The cool thing about the TechCrunch Disrupt conference is that the biggest names in technology come to mingle with some actual garage operations on a somewhat level playing field. One of the simplest but also brilliant micro-startups there this year was Storify , founded by a former AP Bureau chief, it's another possible way to save the ailing journalism industry. But even if it doesn't save the world, it's still a pretty powerful little tool for anyone who publishes anything on the web, which is almost everyone these days.
Storify is in private beta right now, but we got access to try it out. It's basically a dashboard with a story template that allows publishers to easily ping Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and a handful of other sources for content, opinions and anything else the crowd has to say about the story in progress.
Stories created with Storify can easily be embedded into HTML and Storify tracks where that embed code travels around the web. There's also a powerful API that allows developers to crunch the data behind all the elements of a story in numerous ways.
We talked to founder Burt Herman at Disrupt to get a more detailed low-down:
Daniweb - Where did the idea for Storify come from?
Herman - I worked as a correspondent and bureau chief for the Associated Press for 12 years, reporting around the world covering lots of different stories and saw that things are really changing in the way that media is working. Now everyone is a potential source for a story and these are key elements that you want to incorporate... So (Storify) is about ways to bring together the best of curating content, journalism and those standards along with what the crowd is doing out there on social networks.
Daniweb - Can you give an example of the ideal type of story that would work well for Storify?
Herman - We've seen these recent stories that have become touchstones for social media like the Iran protest, the Haiti earthquake. I worked for the AP and we had 3,000 staff but still you can't have somebody everywhere where news is going to happen, but because of social media somebody probably is there and they're able to report and send a photo and see what's going on, so anything like that is a great example.
Daniweb - It seems to operate essentially as a dashboard that gives someone a template and quick access to Twitter, Google, Flickr and other sources. So it seems like it's really mainly about cutting down on browser tabs. Is that right or are we oversimplifying?
Herman - No, you're right. It's a dashboard and you get access to all these sources in one places. And since we have this drag and drop way of doing things - when you drag a tweet into your story, we're not just making it look nice, we're also taking all the data that comes with that behind the scenes and saving that too... Like with a Twitter user, how many followers they have, what's their avatar picture, what's their background picture, what's their geolocation, all that data is actually saved in our system. You can access the story as a developer (through our API) and look at all the data behind that and then come up with different ways to show a story or analyze the data behind that story to see which Twitter users are being quoted on which topics and how many followers they have and do all sorts of different things. We wanna kind of open this up and create stories that aren't just text and pixels, but a story that's actually made up of these elements with all the data behind it.
Daniweb - Who's your target audience? Reporters, bloggers, someone else?
Herman - It could be for any blogger, anybody who wants to make a story using social media. Even more broadly than that it could have some business applications and we've already had some test users doing this for brands looking to say 'look at what people are saying about us on social media.' Being able to take the best things and control what that message is rather than just taking a blanket Twitter search where you just get a stream of tweets.