Scientists with stories, MoJos and mobile video

Posted on August 14, 2013


Scientists with Stories: get ahead of the game in promoting your research.

Scientists with Stories: get ahead of the game in promoting your research.

Scientists with stories (SwS) is a new initiative put together by Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Realising that communication on research helps both funding streams and societal understanding, academics have decided to grasp the nettle and arm themselves with some solid storytelling and multimedia skills. They are part of a new wave of academics taking note of the increasing amount of simple publishing tools to help people become proficient in audio podcasting, photography, animation, video, slideshows and blogging.

The Scientists with Stories collaboration creates an intensive training workshop and professional exhibition opportunities for PhD students affiliated with the Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML) and the UNCʼs Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS).  The first post seen from SwS was an interview about an appearance at the US TED programme, with accompanying GIFs – if you didn’t know GIFs are a form of animated image, a bit like a short video – on Zeega is a relatively new and very popular format that incorporates viewer interaction – you have to press buttons and ‘route’ the story yourself – with all sorts of multimedia content. I think this is a brave and progressive step and I’d urge others to investigate.

While you’re at it why not have a look at an app developed in conjunction with The Guardian and other organisations, called Storymaker. It’s as much an educational app as it is create, but the gist is that you use templates and lessons to produce really engaging video content – it’s a video masterclass in an app. I’m really impressed by it because it gives you shot templates, so rather than learning about video ‘grammar’ and shot composition the hard way by trawling through online filming courses, you follow on-screen templates that teach you how to take shots.

Also have a look at BBC journalist Marc Settle’s guide to smartphone journalism, then check out this list of 10 essential apps for MoJos (mobile journalists). You may wonder why you should look at them if you’re not a journalist, but most journos are avid tech heads and (usually) ahead of the game when it comes to putting stories together from different media. They know a thing a two about what’s useful to know and what isn’t.

Robin Fearon.