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Top 5 Tools for Telling Beautiful Stories

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COWBIRD

http://cowbird.com/

Create your own personal saga with this new audio-visual storytelling platform. Founder Jonathan Harris (of We Feel Fine fame) created the totally free website to keep a slower-paced chronicle of the “human experience” as a respite from the frenzied world of quick-fire tweets and status updates. The result is a beautiful ecosystem of stories with built-in social sharing capabilities, “so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.”

PROJEQT

http://projeqt.com/

From a collection of haiku love letters about New Orleans to a philanthropic photography exhibit of a South African school, this site (currently in beta) provides typographers, illustrators, designers, photographers and other artists and visual communicators a “creative storytelling platform” to display their creations. The platform was launched in October 2010 by global advertising agency TBWA, which uses the gallery-style Content Management System (CMS) to power its own corporate website. Dynamic multimedia content—from RSS feeds to Vimeo videos—is displayed as a series of slides, which can be scrolled through horizontally, arranged in a grid view, or viewed in full screen. Built in HTML5, the platform is “device-neutral,” meaning it displays just as well on an iPhone as it does on a desktop, unlike software applications built with Flash. The first set of account invites will be distributed sometime around Thanksgiving. Sign up here.

STORIFY
http://storify.com/

Storify is a “real-time curation platform” that allows people to turn photos, video, Tweets and other posts from API-enabled social media in embeddable stories. The software was launched in December 2009 by former Associated Press bureau chief Bert Hermanfounder of Hacks/Hackers, a nationwide organization of journalists and technologists. Here is a list of ten different ways to use the tool, from the perspective of journalists.

CARGO COLLECTIVE
http://cargocollective.com


Similar to Projeqt, Cargo Collective is a customizable CMS platform that GOOD magazine recently described as “Tumblr to the extreme, a multimedia-rich platform for creative portfolios and interactive communities.” The site is designed for artists and designers, but a keyword search for “sustainability” reveals that many project creators have environmental and social impact goals in mind. Read an interview with the co-founder, Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter, here.

QWIKI
http://qwiki.com

Qwiki at TechCrunch Disrupt from Qwiki on Vimeo.

Qwiki is the visual version of Wikipedia, turning “information into an experience.” Co-founder & CEO Doug Imbruce describes it as a “platform for vivid, multimedia tours of a given topic,” where raw information on a chosen subject is presented by photos, videos or interactive maps and narrated by a computerized voice. The platform is still early in its development, but groups like TEDxSF (the San Francisco chapter of TED) has already started using it for “ideas worth spreading,” for example, bringing speaker bios to life.

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What say you? Do you have other favorites?


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“As we move to this world where we consume things on screen and the lines blur between television and radio and the printed word and every medium, everything is going to be catered to storytelling,” says writer Nick Bilton in a recent interview with Wired.com.

The techie journalist, who’s written about everything from crowdsourcing hamburgers to the creation of the anti-Facebook, just published a new book, “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted.” In it, he explains why surgeons should play video games and how pornographers are futurists, among other forecasts. His main point, though, is that the internet is going to encompass every element of our lives, not just media consumption: “I think it’s going to be in everything: electricity, our clothes, our cars, our pets.”

His book itself is an interactive experience—users can scan QR Codes at the beginning of each chapter, which, when scanned, will take them to a website where they can consume additional multimedia content and leave comments. Or, you could just read it on your iPad.

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