Real-Time Storytelling

Comments (3)

Chris Brogan earlier this month raised the question: “How have (or how can) you use social media tools in real time to capture the stories around us, in whatever form you want?”

The example Brogan used was being at a Panasonic press conference at a larger convention and sending out dispatches via Twitter (“live-tweeting”) about the press event in real time (while other journalists took notes on paper to write their stories later). Brogan noted that not only did bloggers/tweeters scoop the notepad journalists but that they started a conversation.

planecrash.jpg A superb recent example is the Hudson River plane-crash photo that Janis Krums (who is apparently a guy) of Sarasota, FL, took on his cell phone (iPhone to be precise) and posted to Twitter more or less in real time last week.

Tomorrow’s inauguration provides a great opportunity to tell stories in real time. I’ll be doing close to that — periodically blogging my impressions of this momentous day.

One commenter to Brogan’s piece, “Zoe,” noted that she’d heard a podcast with Clay Shirker, who “pointed out that ‘Is this journalism?’ is not the question — the question is whether or not we are getting information to the people. I think this distinction allows us to get past superficial distinctions, and embrace things like real-time storytelling.”

A ton of journalism will be happening tomorrow. But I suspect there will be even more real-time storytelling. One is not better than the other, but real-time storytelling can certainly be more personal and immediate.

(I should add here that technology may fail to support all the live storytelling; Matt Richtel reported in today’s New York Times that: “The cellphone industry has a plea for the throngs descending on the nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration: go easy on the mobile communications. Cellphone companies have added temporary antennas in Washington but expect to be overwhelmed anyway.”)

Another commenter said that this kind of real-time news dissemination is not storytelling because “storytelling connotes longer narratives.” I disagree. If you look at, for example, the six-word memoirs at SMITH Magazine, a 140-character Tweet seems like War and Peace. (OK, maybe comparing words to characters is like apples to oranges, but the point is, you can say a lot in 140 characters.)


Was I delighted to see this post! Tweets are a good way of recording fleeting thoughts and observations. I have been thinking of suggesting that career counselling clients use them to make diaries that they can review later looking for their peak times, insights, themes and surprises. However, it appears that Twitter makes it somewhat difficult to retrieve more than a couple of dozen tweets when one would really like clients to consider hundreds.

Have you seen any software systems that make it easy for noobs to use Twitter to help them to keep simple logs of their comments that allows hundreds of tweets? Or would it be better to use something else? Thanks for any suggestions.

Thanks so much for commenting, Bill. What a great idea about tweeting for career counseling. You made me curious about being able to retrieve old tweets, so I checked my own account and was able to go back to my first tweet almost a year and 476 tweets ago. The only thing that’s a pain about it is that you get only so many on a screen and have to keep hitting the “older” button, but as far as I can tell, you can retrieve all tweets. I know there are tons of Web-based and desktop applications relating to Twitter, so I suspect you could find one that does what you want. Maybe Tweetdeck? Thanks again for writing!

I’ve been looking for Twitter-based products that do what I imagine might be best for a while but haven’t found one. I should have explained that I would like to find something that makes it easy, first of all, for clients to retrieve all of their career-related tweets at one fell swoop. does this. And so does friendfeed for IM postings. However, once a client has retrieved all of her postings I would like to have her push the postings around on the screen to form groups of related items, or to make them into outlines, or to order them in some other way that would be meaningful to the client. Considering where I’m writing this I should say that stories could be one result. Other results such as sociograms would also be possible.

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Dr. Kathy Hansen

Kathy Hansen, PhD, is a leading proponent of deploying storytelling for career advancement. She is an author and instructor, in addition to being a career guru. More...


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