What if there was an app that allowed you to hand a tablet to someone, anyone, and say to them, “Tell me a story”?
This app would need to be intuitive, easy-to-use and perhaps most of all help us figure out that age-old question: where to begin.
Storify has done this, and it’s unleashed the power of the social Web to be characters, quotes and turning points in those stories. Anyone who can search, drag-and-drop and enter some text is on their way. The elements are all there.
The incredible part is that the media industry hasn’t already created an app like this, and that it was beaten to the punch by an innovative startup, co-founded by Associated Press veteran Burt Herman. The crowd - our audience - is here to stay, and empowering them to be part of the storytelling process is not a bad thing.
With proper vetting of user-generated stories, and closely watching power users create stories at will, the news can become better, quicker and more efficient. News organizations can even consider hiring power users who consistently deliver high-quality work through products like Storify, telling stories creatively and in really unique ways; otherwise they will amass their own audiences in time, launch their own blogs and do their own thing, continually eroding the value of more traditional news sources.
Some have voiced disappointment in Storify’s announcement, hoping it would be an acquisition or something else. But acquisitions can kill companies, sometimes killing the product altogether on the spot in a talent raid. Instead this is a growth play for Storify, and journalists should keep a close eye on what it means.
This is not “just” an app. It’s unlike any other, allowing anyone to easily tell stories by curating from endless social streams with a little button to publish to the world; and it’s casting its net on a wide audience, whether that be a developer in Palo Alto, an author attending a conference in London, or a news junkie in New Delhi, just as much as it is for journalists. We’d be wise not to dismiss it, especially as the mobile and tablet worlds continue to grow, and instead learn from it and how we can apply it to our own businesses.