storytelling, technology

Try These Dynamic Digital Storytelling Platforms

24 Comments 14 January 2010

Image courtesy of Jill Clardy

Nonprofit organizations can tell the best stories. Stories about the impact that a nonprofit has on people’s lives can engage, recruit and solidify donors and members. As ImpactMax writes so beautifully, tying individual stories to overall contextual problems and societal issues can really change policies. Anecdotely, I see a lot of blogs and Flickr photo streams, some YouTube and Vimeo use. Why limit yourself? There are so many other tools and platforms that are exciting, innovative, incredibly engaging, and beautiful. Here are my top digital storytelling platforms and tools for your nonprofit to try out in 2010:

POSTEROUS

Posterous is a publishing platform whereby you email your posts to your Posterous account, attach video/audio/photos and voila! Published.  Use it to quickly and easily upload a thought, photo, tweet, or idea. It’s wicked simple to use, and much less time consuming than a blog. It IS a blog, but more along the lines of a daily journal.

Why It’s Great: Less time commitment than blogging, easy publishing by email. More fun than traditional blogging. All the comment and social features of blogs.

WHRRL

Whrrl has been my favorite “under the radar” platform for at least six months. It is a combination slideshare-photo sharing-storytelling platform. If your organization wants to tell a story via photos, slides, and brief text, this is one of the most visually arresting platforms. Whrrl has recently added an entirely new “geotagging” feature that encourages checkins at different locales and belonging to social groups. Nonprofits could take advantage of this by hosting an event at a locale and asking folks to check in. However, just use it to tell stories. No check-in required!

Why It’s Great: It’s simple to create Whrrl stories, a great platform for storytelling, and has a social features. New geotagging feature (“check-ins”) and tagging with hashtags can potentially be used for fundraising, awareness, etc.

I first read about how a reporter used Whrrl to document homelessness in a tent city, and the story pulled me right in. The reporter is @hardlynormal. Here it is:

More check-ins at Tent City on Main
Powered by Whrrl

ANIMOTO

If you want to turn the photos into a video, adding words and text, along with a call to action, try Animoto. Incredibly simple to use, Animoto automatically integrates images, video clips, and music into videos. Nonprofit organizations can apply for a free professional account here. View sample videos from causes to see how other nonprofits are using it. I am personally mesmerized by the animoto videos.

Why It’s Great: Simple to create a fabulous video for a blog or website, or produce a DVD for donors using photos or short video clips. Videos are easy to share socially, and embed. I created a short 30-second animoto video for a nonprofit client of mine in about 20 minutes!

BLIP.TV

Blip.tv is gaining in exposure and use. It bills itself  as “the next generation TV network,” and that’s a real possibility. Forget cable access and YouTube; if you want to create a steady stream of stories using video, open a blip.tv channel and start broadcasting. It is designed for developing original web tv shows, and supports Creative Commons licensing.

Why It’s Great: Blip.tv will distribute your videos to all the major video platforms for you. Blip also enables RSS feeds for subscriptions. The video quality is spectacular, and they are building a loyal base of followers who want to see original programming. It’s also incredibly easy to share and embed.

One of my favorite blip.fm videos? How Alon Nir created and developed @thekotel, as presented at the 140 Conference, Tel Aviv. (Click on the icon for a pop-up video.)

Alon Nir of @thekotel at the 140 Conference TLV

If you want to see other great examples of digital storytelling, check out the entries at Tech Soup’s 2009 Digital Storytelling Challenge.

Do you use any of these storytelling platforms or tools? How? What are the other great tools that I missed?

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  • Thank you for the great compliment and for helping to spread the word!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Alon,
    Your speech at #140 TLV was funny, and moving, and inspiring. It was my pleasure to promote it, and your idea!

    [Reply]

  • Thank you for the great compliment and for helping to spread the word!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Alon,
    Your speech at #140 TLV was funny, and moving, and inspiring. It was my pleasure to promote it, and your idea!

    [Reply]

  • Rebecca Leaman

    Whrrl is new to me, Debra – thanks for sharing! I’ll be playing with that over the weekend, for sure – and it’s good to see examples of how nonprofits are actually using these tools.

    On a related note… it was very smart for Whrrl to add geo-tagging, wasn’t it? Certainly, it seems very clear that location-specific social networking is one of the trends set to really boom over the next few months…. I have a theory that this may be a combination of (a) the technology exists to make it possible; (b) mobile devices have great enough distribution to make it worthwhile; and (c) human nature can only take just so much of the “world wide web” before we start to feel a need to connect face-to-face with some of those friendly avatars. But that’s a topic for another blog post, perhaps!

    [Reply]

  • Whrrl is new to me, Debra – thanks for sharing! I’ll be playing with that over the weekend, for sure – and it’s good to see examples of how nonprofits are actually using these tools.

    On a related note… it was very smart for Whrrl to add geo-tagging, wasn’t it? Certainly, it seems very clear that location-specific social networking is one of the trends set to really boom over the next few months…. I have a theory that this may be a combination of (a) the technology exists to make it possible; (b) mobile devices have great enough distribution to make it worthwhile; and (c) human nature can only take just so much of the “world wide web” before we start to feel a need to connect face-to-face with some of those friendly avatars. But that’s a topic for another blog post, perhaps!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @Rebecca – I love the idea of whrrl, the accessibility of the images, and it’s seeming ease of use.

    When Whrrl decided to add geo tagging, it completely changed Whrrl for me; it became more of a geo tagging/local “game” than a beautiful storytelling platform. That said, it was probably a smart move on their part to bring the storytelling to the local level. It now becomes more like Posterous and a photo booth type of platform. However, I agree with your analysis of the geo tragging trend and the pushes/pulls of it. Why has FourSquare and GoWalla and Yelp taken off? We do want to be social, and local. The combination leads to making weak ties stronger, and thus social media becomes even more effective for the participants. Oh – I bet we could talk for hours about this! And it would be fun to do it with you, too!

    [Reply]

  • You know I’m a huge Posterous fan! It’s an easy way to for nonprofits to extend their blog onto a variety of platforms.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @Johnhaydon- don’t I know it! If you want to visit John Haydon’s Posterous blog, it’s got great info and some fun insights into John’s life as well! http://johnhaydon.me/

    [Reply]

  • You know I’m a huge Posterous fan! It’s an easy way to for nonprofits to extend their blog onto a variety of platforms.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @Johnhaydon- don’t I know it! If you want to visit John Haydon’s Posterous blog, it’s got great info and some fun insights into John’s life as well! http://johnhaydon.me/

    [Reply]

  • @Rebecca – I love the idea of whrrl, the accessibility of the images, and it’s seeming ease of use.

    When Whrrl decided to add geo tagging, it completely changed Whrrl for me; it became more of a geo tagging/local “game” than a beautiful storytelling platform. That said, it was probably a smart move on their part to bring the storytelling to the local level. It now becomes more like Posterous and a photo booth type of platform. However, I agree with your analysis of the geo tragging trend and the pushes/pulls of it. Why has FourSquare and GoWalla and Yelp taken off? We do want to be social, and local. The combination leads to making weak ties stronger, and thus social media becomes even more effective for the participants. Oh – I bet we could talk for hours about this! And it would be fun to do it with you, too!

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for the props, Debra!

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for the props, Debra!

    [Reply]

  • I’d never heard of a couple of these, and the examples were very inspiring. Thanks, Debra!

    [Reply]

  • I’d never heard of a couple of these, and the examples were very inspiring. Thanks, Debra!

    [Reply]

  • johnhds

    Excellent article. I have been looking for a place to produce videos and I think Animoto may be the place. Thanks

    [Reply]

  • Let us know what stories you tell using Animoto, John!

    [Reply]

  • johnhds

    I was considering doing a story about one fo my websites; but read the terms page and decided (at least at this time) to pass on using the site. The reason is because you have to stay with Animoto. they have an agreement to allow users to use their music. If you decide to leave (not keep paying a monthly amount) “you are responsible for ensuring your use is in compliance with applicable laws.”

    That has me concerned. Maybe it's nothing; but I don' need to make a video and then have to take it down over the music used.

    [Reply]

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  • Create Online Video

    I work with HD Splash, which is similiar to Animoto as far as it is an online template that can be customized. Here is a screenshot of the Ink Blot video!

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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