Storyflow widget open sourced

As some of you might have heard, Storyflow came in as runners up at the Irish Times Digital Challenge last Summer, an eight-week incubator organized by Johnny Ryan inside the Irish Times building in Dublin. The programme’s primary advertised goal was to help media-oriented startups set foot inside a large news organization, which can admittedly be quite conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies. However, the Irish Times made it no secret that they too wanted to learn from the startups, in particular about the potential of different tech ideas for boosting their online (and perhaps even print) revenue.

Admittedly, Storyflow was launched on the business section of a few months prior to the start of the Challenge, giving it perhaps a small advantage over some of the other candidates with arguably more solid financials etc. Either way, the eight-week presence inside the building gave us an opportunity to understand how the digital team worked in more detail, find out what the near- and long-term future plans the company had for its online presence and, most importantly, try to push the widget out to the whole site.

In retrospect, the main reason why we could not achieve our main goal seems to be that the entities and topics provided by Storyflow with the help of Zemanta were not local enough for an Irish newspaper. Unfortunately, we did not have the resources to create and maintain our own meta-linguistic system, while the Irish Times were working on integrating a different third-party platform into their CMS at the same time, effectively resulting in the take-down of the Storyflow widget from with the release of their newly designed Web presence in early 2013.

Having considered our options, we have now decided to open source the code for the Storyflow javascript widget, allowing any news site or blog to display a visualization of news story development next to an article. With this move, publishers won’t be bound to our entities and topics any more and can use a system of their choice, whether something built in-house, a Web-based API like Zemanta or just rely on good old tags and categories.

From those of you who find the Storyflow widget a worthy storytelling improvement to their blog or news site, all we ask in return is maybe a small note to @TheStoryflow that you are using the widget as well as any kind of feedback that you might want to send our way to let us make the experience even better. From others, we would love to hear what your reservations are about Storyflow and again, how we could make it better.

To get the Storyflow widget, visit this github page. For now, you will need to install the script manually on whatever platform you’re using. However, we are working on plugins for WordPress and Drupal, with possibly more to come on demand. We really hope that many authors and readers will be able to have some fun with this small piece of eye candy and hope to hear from you about your experience with it!


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