A Super Useful List of Digital Storytelling Tools
These days if you want your story to be heard you don’t need a journalism degree and a uncle who works at a newspaper. Those things can help but as technology advances at an accelerated rate, we now have access to the open web and tools aavailable on our smartphones and laptops that make creating stuff easy, fun and, thankfully, often free.
The #MyStory project presents to you a few (maybe more than a few) tools for budding journalists, nonprofit organisations, and digital storytellers to consider using to effectively and creatively convey any kind of message.
If you know of any tools then let us know too and we can update this list over time.
Storify is an excellent tool for making stories with social media. You can use it to combine tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, images from Flickr, Instagram, GIFs, Tumblr and Soundcloud. The interface is quite flexible and it allows you to mix elements around and change their order. You can even embed Storify stories on webpages. It can be a useful tool for students to practice collecting information and displaying it like a journalist would. You can also use it to live blog events and conferences. Check out the video below.
Google Slides in an app (vailable in your broswer, phone or tablet) that lets you create, edit and collaborate with other people through the cloud on presentations. You can even open and edit Powerpoint presentations with it but what makes it more felxible than Powerpoint is that you can embed your presentations on websites. It also syncs your Google Drive files across all your devices. Pretty neat.
Google News Lab
Google Crisis Map, Google Trends, Good Scholar, Google Alerts, Google Translate, Google Public Data Explorer ….. there’s a lot here, as well as free training.
You can use Tweetdeck as a dashboard to management multiple Twitter accounts. You can display your Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, hashtags, or all tweets by or to a single user real-time. It can be downloaded on your phone or tablet as an app or used in your browser or as a standalone application on your desktop. Most useful
This is a great app for finding what content is ‘trending’ and where around the web and who is posting it (influencers). Journalists
Check out this overview
Facebook Live, YouTube Live & Periscope
With both these apps you can broadcast to Facebook, YouTube or Twitter (Twitter purchsed Periscope recently) live from your phone. There are new features being added soon but both these apps are indespensible for digital stroytellers in the age of social media. Check out this video comparing the three
Google Drive and Dropbox
Although these two tools are not storytelling tools, they are there to make your life much easier.
For instance, if you film something on your phone that you would like to later edit on your computer you can save it to your Dropbox or Google Drive app on your phone. If you are connected to the net, it will upload to your account in the cloud and sync across all your devices, making it accessible on your laptop’s har drive or your desktop or tablet.
Check out this quick introduction to Google Drive.
Gifs are the best thing about the internet and a valuable tool for illustrating an argument or telling a story.
Gifs are actually an early image format of the web. Back in the olds days of the web when internet connection speeds were slow, images needed to be compressed in a format that would load as fast as possible. The compression algorithms resulted in a loss of quality which some people now find aesthtically appealing as they adda sense of nostalgia. Gifs also provided a way for people to show short snippets of video which loop over and over again. The best gifs are ones you can’t look away from. Gifs went out of fashion as connection speeds increased but have hung on as a format for many reasons and have even made a comeback.
To make a gif these days you can use image tools like Photoshop or GIMP (a completely free image editing program)and edit togeether small bits of video but browser-based tools like Giphy have made it even easier.
For some examples of how gifs can be effectively used in storytelling see the links below.
Evernote and Pocket
Ok, obviously Google Tranlsate isn’t perfect but it does improve over time. I’ve noticed significant increases in its accuracy when translating between French and English over the last two years. Unfortunately when translating between Arabic and English/French/Anything it is woefully inaccurate but it does seem ok for small snippets of text.
One great application of Google Translate is that you can point your phone at a sign in another language and your camera will translate it for you. Could be useful for your next investiagtive story.
iTalk and Voice Memo
While camera quality on smart phones continually increases, we unfortunately can’t say the same about the quality of audio recording. For digital storytellers and reporters it is necessary to buy high quaity field recorders like this and this in order to be a decent enough quality to be broadcast on radio. However,
The web has made it easy for anyone to publish stories. You can create your own blog with Tumblr, Blogger, Blogspot or if you’re keen to delve a bit deeper into a blogging platform, then the blog version of WordPress (wordpress.com) as opposed to the content management system (CMS) for bulding hosted websites wordpress.org, is a great place to start. We recommend WordPress.com because it can be a gateway to learning how to build a proper hosted website with a CMS.
If you are keen to get started straight away then you can always open a free account on Medium and publish your stories there – or you could always upload your content to mystoryproject.eu – just saying 😉
Video editing is notorious for chewing up a substantial amount of resources on desktop and laptop computers so video editing applications on mobile have yet to make a huge impact. That said, there are some handy (and FREE!) mobile applications for editing video that you can use to create stoires.