The Story of 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story

This 50+ Way thing had its roots for a workshop I planned for a trip I did in October 2007 to Australia (8 capital cities in 2 weeks, that's a whole other story).In June of 2007 I was starting to plan the presentations and some workshops I would do there.

That year I had been making use of Slideshare for presentations- I call it the "YouTube for Powerpoints" (I bet you never though there was such a need for things). When they came out with the ability to attach and sync slides to audio, i thought- this so a great way to share stories- and you can create and share it all on the web for free. In fact, this very capability was something I had used maybe four years ago in a very expensive enterprise software (Macromedia Breeze), and now you can do it for free!

Then I saw this site called VoiceThread which was amazing and blogged about what a nifty tool it was to create stories.


Like Slideshare you can upload images to create an online slideshow, but the unique feature here was that you could record an audio track to play with each image-- and you can allow other people to add their own voices. This example by the site's creator (who was the infant) shows the typical posed studio portrait families did in the 1960s and 1970s (and still do) and is introduced in his voice. But then Mom's vice breaks in and gives her tale on what was going on:

"I’m the happy mother here in this picture of these children, some of whom… appear to have anxiety disorders… I don’t know why the look unhappy, because I’m their mother- and they should be happy."

And I knew of maybe 4 or 5 other tools for creating and sharing stories, presentations or slide shows with images, text, and sound. And I began to wonder, how many tools are there? 15? 20? No, there cannot be that many.

At the same time, I had just watched the tribute to Paul Simon from the Library of Congress- I consider him one of the most gifted musicians (and a great storyteller in music). As the song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" floated by, and I said to myself, I wonder if there are 50 different free web tools for creating stories out there... and that's how this idea was born.

And the answer is-- there are more than 50, but also, as a meta lesson, this illustrated a concept I had been trying to articulate- that the web is really big. No we know that, but is one a sprawling scale beyond human comprehension, like the effect we have standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. The web is beyond our scale to take it all in. No one can really know it all. If you read make sweeping statements like, "Blogs are just diaries" or wikis are security risks -then question these statements, because there is no way for anyone to have seen every blog or wiki! Question any so-called expert who makes a sweeping generalization about anything on the net.

These tools sounded like a great idea for a workshop- set up some basic processes for designing a story and then have the group try them in these web-based tools, some as just a means to stretch their creative juices, but also to get them out of the PowerPoint mindset.

But since I was doing this as a workshop, I realized that if I found 50 tools, I'd have to know how to use them. I could not just give them a list of tools if I did not know them inside and out. So I got this really silly idea- what if I used the same media and story in every tool and told the same story in each different tool! I then wondered what I would use, and it would have to be well contained.

Then I remembered that a year or two ago I had done a video story about a special dog who traveled cross country with me. It was my voice over stills for the 60 second story contest (the original site is gone, sigh). Do you know how hard it is to create a 60 second story? My first attempt when I recorded the audio was over five minutes. I chopped and chopped and cut and chopped and got it down to... 2:50. It is a great exercise to take a story down to its essentials (I still had to rush the last 10 seconds, you can hear my voice speed up).

Here I had a story, a storyboard, all of the images, and an audio track. I was on my way. All I needed to to was to re-tell that story in each tool. These are provided as examples on all of the Story Tool pages and I have a complete list of all Dominoe Stories. I must admit by the time I got to about 27 I was fairly sick of my story (just kidding, I enjoy it). I ended up somewhere around 55 tools for the first iteration.

The first version of 50+ Web 2.0 Ways was done as a Wikispaces site (as an example I try to use free tools that are available to teachers and students) at http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/50+ways

50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story as it appeared September 23, 2007

The very first workshop was October 15, 2007 for a group of 60 teachers and staff in Hobart, Tasmania. Some of the examples you see on this current site were from that original group. Since then, I've added new tools (and saw a few travel to the Island of Dead Tools) and had the opportunity to present and lead workshops in many places, sometimes remotely over the net;

This newest instance of the 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story is a long over due update, created in time to lead a workshop at the 2010 Museum Computer Network conference in Austin. It is designed to provide more places where people can add examples and edit content, plus some new ways to organize the tools by tool type (using wiki tags, so tools can fit in more than one category) and by media capability. But the core remains the same.

For a keynote in April 2011 for the Learning Connections organization in Ontario, I created this short video of 50+Ways-- to make it, i used 34 of the tools to create segments of the overall message

50 Ways remains as one of my of my most requested presentations-- I've not done 50 yet, but am on my way!

<50 Presentations about 50+ Ways

Bonus Stuff!

One page handout
Two page workshop handout

And there continues to be a growing list of new ones to add! I invite you to explore, jump in, and be part of the process to add to this site.

cogdog-watercolor.pngThis site was created by Alan Levine in October 2010, the second incarnation of the original 50+ Ways concept. A 2014 expansion for mobile apps is being co-created with Darren Kuropatwa. Everything here is open to be linked, re-used, re-mixed, re-cast, etc. This particular page was created on Oct 24, 2010 11:21 am and has been edited 5 times. The last tweak was made on Nov 10, 2011 1:23 pm by - cogdog cogdog. Share freely, often, and voraciously by linking to http://50ways.cogdogblog.com/