Friday, December 28, 2012

Spicynodes: A visual spin on storytelling - Rated B-

I don't know what Spicynodes are, but I would probably eat them. I would also probably play with them again to tell a story in a unique, visual way.

I recently wrote an Up Close profile of a local artist, Alex Cutler.

Alex Cutler looks quite at home during his first art show a year ago.
(Jon Hill /Courtesy photo)

I'm a raging fan of pull quotes, Tumblr quotes and even sometimes (yeah, I said it) memes. Sometimes. Grumpy Cat memes. Obviously.

So I thought the free and super easy-to-use Spicynodes would be a fun way to highlight some of the quotes from the article.

Getting on the Google+ train

I've held off longer than a middle-schooler breaking up with MySpace in 2007, purely because I didn't want to manage yet another portal, and I didn't know many people actively using it. But finally, I joined Google+. 

The reasons: 
* If you promote your stories on Google+, it feeds the hungry Google alligators and they push your stories up higher in the Google search engine.
* I have discovered some great journalism communities (or groups). I have subscribed to my favorite feeds to be sent to my inbox, and I feel like I opened up a whole new world of information and education.
Here are my current favorite j-nerd groups on Google+: 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thinglink: Storytelling with an interactive photo - Rated A

So, there's this house: 8 Lincoln Place in Longmont. You gotta see it in person to believe what happens here every Christmas. Hundreds of decorations. Maybe thousands. Maybe millions. It's so intense, and a single photo just doesn't begin to express the level of Santaplosion.

I was going to make a video to try to capture the spirit. But instead, I decided to make a video, and another, and another, and a photo slideshow, and a day/night photo -- and before I knew it, I had gotten quite carried away with spirit myself and had put together an interactive photo of the house.

It's a wild trip. I think it tells the story in a way not even a video could do; because a video with all of this info would last like 10 minutes long.

What I used:

Solving the holiday lights dilemma with technology

Every year, we post a map of the best holiday lights in the area.
Every year, readers are supposed to submit their favorite lights to add to our map, but every year, we get approximately three entries. 

That means, I have spent countless weeks over the past decade driving around neighborhoods in Boulder County looking for good displays to add to our map. I admit, not as bad of a job as a rattlesnake hunter or Indonesian stick fighter or a busser at Outback Steak House (I got fired from that job when they asked me to scrub the peanut grease off the steps, um, noooo). But after hour 10 in yet another KB Homes subdivision, writing down addresses in my trusty reporter's notebook to bring back and type into the system and then give to a designer to turn into a map, it became clear this had become a resource drain. 

Drain: Plugged! 

I found a free app for my iPhone called Geospike that allows me to:
1. Create a specific project, or "trip," such as Holiday Lights 2012.
2. Take photos of the best holiday lights, and enter any text/tips with it. 
3. Then, it automatically plots each photo onto a map, with the address and driving directions (if needed). 
4. Then I can share it. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Up close: A way to give more local artists a voice

One of the regular features that I launched with my IdeaLab project is called Up Close (used to be called A&E Q&A, but that just got annoying to say).

What is it: A profile of an interesting arts or entertainment person in the community that we have not covered before or might not otherwise be able to write about.

Friday, December 7, 2012

You get what you give

Yet another story came out of the Features Advisory Board -- from our most active member, Amy Tremper. Per the request of the members, I scheduled a face-to-face, real person meeting in downtown Boulder. I had initially attempted to coordinate the group virtual only, but the members requested to meet in person. Ironically or amusingly, the only person who came was the member who was already very active online.

But that didn't matter, because our meeting was more fruitful than a meeting with a 100-chair networking dinner. Here is one of the stories that came out of tea date at Trident.

Do you know where this is in North Boulder?