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Brickflow for hashtag-based storytelling

One of my favorite tools for curating a breaking story as reported in social media has been Storify.   It’s widely used by journalists to aggregate news photos, videos, and tweets. Conference goers use it to grab and archive memorable moments.  I found it particularly handy to make sense of the multiple feeds emerging from the IASL Conference last fall.

Brickflow, an alternate hashtag-based, visual storytelling web app launches in public beta on July 20th.

The web application promises to help

journalists and bloggers turn social media noise into meaningful visual content. It’s the first tool for merging Instagram videos into a coherent story. Using it feels like playing with Legos.

Brickflow allows users to tell social media stories with square-shaped social media building bricks.  Current sources of content include: Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube and the the team promises more feeds to come.  Stories or flows are easily shared, embedded, and collaboratively remixed.

Flows may be built one of two ways:

1. using a hashtag to automatically collect content from major social media platforms.

2. drag-and-drop selected bricks to a whiteboard. The resulting “Flow” can be shared, embedded and remixed with a single click.

New content may be adding using the search feature on the sidebar, entering a direct link, or by using the My Content and Content I Like tabs.

Viewers navigate the flows as slideshows or by clicking on any of the bricks in the overview on the bottom right of the story.

A recent press release described the start-up team’s goals for their new platform and how Brickflow differs from the other curating kids on the block:

Curated storytelling is a form of communication that is here to stay.  Bloggers are using content curation tools to quickly come up with relevant media. But content is getting shorter, more visual, and taking place in real-time. Hashtags are becoming mainstream. Vine and Instagram are widely popular. This is a totally new form of self-expression: a few seconds of square-shaped video, low-res snapshots, 140 characters of text.

Brickflow is first to offer the feature of connecting multiple Instagram videos to tell a longer story. According to Mihaly Borbely, one of the founders, “This will open up a whole new world of possibilities, like crowdsourced short films and advertisements. I deeply believe that micro-videos will reshape the way we think of visual storytelling. It’s a new format by itself, but these videos are also the perfect building blocks for something bigger.”

Free registration begins on July 20th.

I am going to try to report back from the November Learning Conference, #BLC13, using Brickflow.

I see some interesting news aggregations projects for my high school students.  I also can see leading discussion of the process of feed selection as it relates to point of view in curation efforts.

But I am going to wait just a bit before a student roll-out.

I hesitate to introduce Brickflow to students who may not be instinctively concerned about whether those bricks attribute credit.  Most are used to assuming automatic attribution on other curation platforms.

So I wrote to co-founder Mihaly Borbely about the issue, and he responded

About your questions, we store the author information for every piece of content, so it’s not a problem. Displaying it is only partially implemented at this point. With tweets and Instagram photos,  it’s visible already. With other sources we’ll implement it very soon.  Also, we’ll have to make this information clickable, so it leads back to the original content, just as you suggested.  In short, it’s only half-done, but it’s on high priority, and will work exactly like you said when done. This is why we only call it a public beta launch.
Here are a couple of early sample Brickflow projects shared on the site:

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


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