New online storytelling tools: Curating/collaborating with Pearltrees

Pearltrees  could be an interesting take on curated and collaborative storytelling. I discovered the site via Mo Krochmal, who hade made a paella tree using the Flash tool, and I liked the idea so much I wanted to try it out.

Basically, Pearltrees allows users to collaborate on just about anything that exists online. I’ve found everything on there from beauty tips to nude photography, to political debate, all available to be updated in real time by multiple users. So it should be fairly simple to adapt as a way of telling a story online, in the same way you can use Prezi for visualisations.

I installed the Firefox addon for Pearltrees, which lets me add web pages, and then had to pick a topic. The question was, what?
Time was pressing so I combined it with something that I’ve been doing as alongside my day job (although, of course, it is part of my day job as well) which is getting to know more about my new home city of Cardiff.

I tried to group topics and themes together, so information like maps, Wikipedia and TruKnowledge are linked pearls. Likewise, sport, Dr Who, Torchwood and some social media elements have linked pearls.
It’s not perfect – in fact it’s downright sprawling compared to Mo’s lovely paella pearltree, but it has a rough shape and more elements can be added in as necessary. 

As a storytelling tool I like it. It can be very realtime and linear, or it can branch out and span multiple topics. You can invite users via email, Twitter or Facebook, publish via Twitter, embed or link.
Downsides (for iPad-ers, at least) are that it’s Flash-based, plus it would be really useful to be able to add comments (in text boxes to clarify a timeline or the choice of content, for example), as you can on Storify. Also to upload media as well as curate existing information.
But it’s only just out of beta, and it’s a very interesting, and very simple tool.

[Update: Overnight my Pearltree on Cardiff had accrued 65 hits. It’s also got followers, one of whom is now a team-member as well. 

[So, maybe this will start to take on a life of its own – I certainly hope so.]

I did think of curating a journalism Pearltrees but – frankly – the one below takes the blue ribbon… so I’ve simply shared it here…

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Here today… gone tomorrow content? Back up your work…

This is not so much of a new post as a republishing of something that already exists on a third party site but there is a reason for it beyond lazy blogging.
Yesterday, I found myself rummaging through Delicious as I needed to use various Twitter tools I’ve either used or which have featured on, for example, Mashable, over the years. They were all neatly saved in my tags, but when I came to use them something like half of them led to redundant sites. That included the well-established Mr Tweet, which I always thought was an excellent tool (if a little annoying with the DMs) and far better than Twitter’s own recommends ofo people to follow.

Along with the rest of the online world I saved my Delicious bookmarks as a csv file within seconds of Yahoo intimating it was thinknig of closing the site.
And when Seesmic closed its video operation last year I thought about moving my videos and then decided it was a job too far (it involved emailling them and asking for the content) in a fairly hectic period of my life.  So, as far as I know, those videos (including a before-and-after of my epic hair cut, and all the lovely people who videoed their thoughts on it) are gone.More pertinently, I suspect a lot of people who crafted blog posts that included embedded Seemsic discussions are now missing content if they search back in their archives.

Of course, those videos weren’t particularly import but – extreme example, I know – what if Google was to close Blogger? Shifting three years-plus worth of content from this blog elsewhere would be a piece of work. And as a journalist, creating and embedding content up using curation or visualisation tools – like Storify and ManyEyes, both of which I like a lot – doesn’t mean you’ve crafted a work of permanence.

So, along with the idea of backing up as much of my data as I can (and accepting that, sometimes, things just come to an end) I’ve moved a piece of crowdsourcing that is very close to my heart onto this blog.
It’s the Journalism Cliches I Most Dislike list, which I started on Listiki and which so many talented and funny people took the time to contribute to.
Of course, Listiki still exists and I’m not suggesting for a moment that the site is likely to go away – I hope not, it’s great – but I also would hate for this to get lost because I enjoyed collaborating on it, and so I’ve cut n pasted it here.
I’m sure I’ve used or worked on papers that have featured every one of these cliches in the past, but that doesn’t bother me one jot. These are still awesome:

  1. Saying something was ‘slammed’ when someone disagreed with it a bit
  1. Tragic (when used to describe minor inconvenience)
  1. ‘‘Sources close to’’ meaning the person concerned
  1. Only time will tell (I haven’t a clue)
  1. Firefighters use breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze… NO THEY DIDN’T, THEY USED WATER
  1. “So-called” before some tech term
  1. An uneasy calm descended on X (place, frequently war-torn) one day after X (violent event). Meaning: There’s no story today, but we have to write summat.
  1. Drinking sprees that end in tragedy
  1. Ttroubled
  1. A neighbour said “He was such a quite man who kept himself to himself…”
  1. ‘Gone to the dogs.’
  1. (insert verb)-athon
  1. Teens are always on ‘a rampage’
  1. Every young person is a ‘hoon.’
  1. Laceration (it’s a CUT!!!)
  1. Moggy – see pooch
  1. Terror – See Horror
  1. Mercy dash (routine ambulance call out)
  1. Sparking Fears.
  1. Political correctness gone mad
  1. “with links to”: Anyone who’s flown on the same airline as Al Quaeda operatives, or families, or acquaintances, or pre-school classmates is deemed to be one “with links to”: absent detail on said links, the phrase has lost all informative value
  1. Wrote in an online blog (because there are so many offline blogs…)
  1. Winter (or any other season) of discontent
  1. In an inte, “what’s it like….” to…, when… followed by some reference which couldn’t possibly be “lik” anything else.
  1. At the end of the day…..
  1. All Caribbean, Australian etc etc waters are ‘shark infested’; nowt else, just ‘shark infested.’
  1. “Beverages” when you mean “drinks”
  1. Keynote speech… as opposed to a pointless one
  1. Every mother’s/parent’s worst nightmare
  1. “Licence fee payers reacted with fury”. Did we really…?
  1. “Allegedly”: The magic word that allows any random speculation and wild guess be presented as a fact
  1. Gruelling – in connection with any charity or sponsored event
  1. Tragic tot
  1. It  remains to be seen
  1. Floral tributes
  1. ‘Community leaders’
  1. Loveable rogue (death tribute which translates as ‘bloody nuisance)
  1. Only cute girls pass exams.
  1. ” -gate”
  1. ‘Plummeted’ meaning ‘was down a bit’
  1. Detectives are piecing together
  1. “Fuel fears of a double-dip recession”
  1. Tour de force (in book res)
  1. Fires that rage or blaze
  1. In scenes reminiscent of [insert film/TV show here]
  1. Grisly murders. Or brutal ones.
  1. Rain/snow/gales ‘Brought Traffic Chaos’
  1. Cats that are ‘feline purr-fect’ about anything
  1. Articles involving music that include Striking A Chord headlines/intros
  1. Pooch (It’s a damn dog)
  1. Wantaway (any sportsperson looking for new club)
  1. Fights described as fracas or rumpus
  1. Wet weather failed to dampen the spirits of…
  1. Anything happening in broad daylight
  1. Non-biblical Good Samaritans
  1. “Bravely battling” by doing what the doctor says
  1. Raised eyebrows
  1. Revealed
  1. Centre Stage
  1. “A grieving mother/wife/girlfriend today paid tribute…” (ugh. pass the sick bucket)
  1. “Blinking back tears…” (often a attempt to add colour to a real-life story)
  1. Horror (when used in a headline. Almost every day)
  1. Tot (small child)
  1. Plucky (especially pensioners)
  1. Up in arms
  1. Perfect storm
  1. Only time will tell/bring closure
  1. Outpouring of (grief/support/etc)
  1. 70 Intro: “It is a truth, universally acknowledged…” (that a journalist without an intro will dust this down)
  1. According to my taxi driver (clueless foreign correspondent arrives in country)
  1. Fortress (insert football stadium name here)
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