Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Some quick thoughts on Storify as a mini archive for Tweets

The shortened link for this post is

EDIT: 30 May 2011 - Have discovered a useful thing that is a huge help in moving tweets (or other items from left to right): double-click on an item in the left and it will snap to the top of the right hand side panel, or use SHIFT double-click to make it snap to the bottom :)

Storify ( is a lovely bit of web-based kit that sort of lets you trap tweets and it appeared on my radar during my mourning period for What the Hashtag and Twapperkeeper. Those two tools would do the work for you, sniffing the tweestream and picking out the hashtagged tweets you'd asked it to save, then presenting them to you (all nicely in order) for export to a text file. Lovely. But these are more or less no longer with us.

Twapperkeeper doesn't let you export an archive of hashtags and will only let you save two archives. What the Hashtag has been taken over by What the Trend and is no longer doing that sort of thing. In fact, according to Twitter's terms of service it seems that it's not possible to do this:
Additionally, and maybe most importantly, Twitter's recent changes to its Terms of Service (TOS) now prevent us from providing transcripts of conversations around a hashtag.
Storify however, absolutely definitely lets you create an archive of hashtagged tweets, it even lets you embed it in your blog. It's awesome, but the major disadvantage is that you have to manually add each tweet that you want, and you're restricted to a number of tweets (I've not worked out how many yet). It would seem to be at odds with Twitter's TOS (as I understand it from what WTHasthag says above) but perhaps Twitter doesn't seriously envisage anyone using this as an archiving tool because of the amount of effort involved.

I've begun testing Storify to see what I can do with it and will continue to report here :)

1. What happens when a Storified tweet is deleted on Twitter?
Seemingly not much. The tweet I deleted on Monday is still forming a part of the Storify story I created on the Sunday.

2. How many tweets can you access?
Don't know - I have just played around with the #streettalks tweets and it let me go back (you have to keep pressing 'load more' until it stops giving you that option) a day or so - however this was a small meeting in a pub and not a large science conference where tweets tend to ticker tape out at quite a rate.

There is a limit on both the number of tweets you can access and how many days back you can go, and I think these are independent. For example if you were searching for the hashtag #madeuptag but no-one had written a tweet mentioning it for, say, a year or several months, it may well not show up in your tweets, so there is a time thing to be aware of.

While investigating Storify for use by @marilyneb just now we found that her hashtag of interest, #pas2011 could find four days' worth of tweets because it hadn't been used very much. So for capturing low volume hashtaggeed tweets Storify seems to work beautifully.

3. If you can go back to, say, 500 tweets, does stripping out the RTs (eg let's assume 200 of the tweets are RTs) allow you to access an earlier batch of tweets?
Don't know.

4. Transferring tweets from the left hand side panel to the right hand side panel is not that easy on a small laptop with a pointing device rather than a mouse. It's just a bit fiddly. For serious use I think a desktop is a lot easier. I was only half joking when I tweeted the other day that one day we might see people paid to sit in conferences and do precisely this (sweeping tweets as they come in, into a Storify to save them), unless Twitter sorts out its TOS so that third party apps can archive stuff again.

Because it's a bit harder (for me) to move them, what I've done is bung them into a draft Storify - here's what I said:

These are a series of tweets that are not in the order in which they were posted. I just grabbed them from the feed and bunged them here. It will be easier to reorder them if I let them sit for a few hours or at least more than a day.

This is because a newly posted tweet will say it was posted 'x minutes ago' then 'x hours ago' then 'about x hours ago' and finally 23.06 May 4th - and that's when I'll swoop in and reorder them.

Or, what I can do is create a fresh Storify and select from THIS Storify the elements I want to use.
5. If you're archiving tweets, it seems that the avatar of the one on the top of your 'stack' of tweets is used for the Storify's picture. This could be a bit annoying but I haven't investigated it yet - an obvious way to get around this is to add in a tweet of your own and use your avatar... but not ideal.

6. When you search on Storify for a set of tweets, eg a hashtag, the most recent tweet is at the top in the panel on the left. If you want your story to start from the beginning then the trick is (if starting from the top) to drop each tweet on the top of the next one, to reverse the order.

On my computer it's easier to wait 24 hours so that all the tweets are properly timestamped (see point 4) because Storify can be a bit fiddly to use on a very small laptop.

7. I think I might have just spotted a way to get a bit more granularity in Storify. I'm currently creating a record of #streettalks (Harry Rutter's talk on making cities more active-friendly) and am working from a rough draft which has ALL the tweets bunged in from a Twitter search.

While in edit mode, clicking on the S button in the panel on the left (which lets you search within Storify stories) for #streettalks brings up my story and I can drag the entire thing in to the panel on the right. But... I've just discovered that if I click on the Storify result while it's still in the left panel it will unfurl into the entire post, enabling me to pick out the individual elements (ie the tweets). If you hover over the link it does actually say "click to view the elements of this story".

In the pic below I've clicked on the S, highlighted by an orange circle, then typed #streettalks into the search bar and pressed 'get stories'; what shows up is a single result which is my Storify based on the #streettalks hashtag. If I hover over the link it invites me to click to view the elements, which I then did... and in the second panel you can see the entire Storify story unfurled and with all the individual tweets available for adding to the panel on the right to create a new story.

I expect there's more to follow...


  1. I've been looking at alternative uses for Storify as well, including the idea of a mini-archive. In theory it's got the advantage over SearchHash etc that you can strip out RTs, chat/snark if you wish.

    But (and it's a big but) as you state "Transferring tweets from the left hand side panel to the right hand side panel is not that easy". I'm using a netbook, and I just give up with Storify _every time_ as I can see so little. I'm a Keepstream fan for that reason!

    Thanks for the great list of tools on your latest list as well, just RTd it.

  2. Thanks for your comment and RT Ann - I just discovered this useful thing yesterday about Storify and need to update the post to mention it.

    Double-click on an item in the left and it will snap to the top, SHIFT double-click and it snaps to the bottom :)


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