Not Storify

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Storify is shutting down, which means among other things that link isn’t likely to work past May 2018. However, it’s those “other things” I’m more worried about.

Since Twitter started reaching its tendrils into academia, we academics have in our usual self-important ways sought methods for archiving conversations that may or may not truly be worthy of such treatment. Storify gave us a way to do that reasonably easily, and I doubt many of us considered the implications of using a proprietary platform to store discussions for reference or posterity. To be entirely honest, I’m impressed at the good faith Storify has shown in staying open and allowing those of us who used their services for free to download the stories we created. However, putting that data back into the public view is not an altogether easy task. And if we sought to build these public records in the first place, surely we wouldn’t be satisfied with simply storing links to tweets and other content in a file on our computer that we can barely read.

There are alternatives. Storify’s own export function allows downloads of HTML files that could be copied to a web server, but reviewing the code of these suggests many of the links and images are no longer likely to work once Storify closes. Wakelet has offered to import Storify stories onto their own proprietary platform, and at least suggest they’ll allow easy exports in the future. As you might expect, however, that reassurance does not leave me reassured.

So, I wrote Not Storify. Its only aim is to be a repository for those old Storify stories you don’t want to fade into the ether. I have no plans to make a new curation site (Why would it be any better than Wakelet?) nor to allow even basic editing of old stories. Rather, Not Storify is designed to be a Storify reference, a link to stories that may (or may not) have some academic importance, especially (but not exclusively) in relation to academic surgery. It’s not fancy, but it’s made to get rid of all those little storify.com links hidden in the data exported from Storify so that they’ll still work in a few months or a few years. If I want to refer to Amalia Cochran‘s excellent #DearIntern tips, they’re there. And they take no work on my part to maintain, so there’s no reason to think they’re going anywhere.

I’ve foregone some of Storify’s beauty (like the header images) for even more ascetic simplicity, but other changes are mainly due to my inability to dedicate a company to Not Storify’s development. I do want to make Not Storify easy to use in some of the ways that matter, like finding content. If you already have the address for a Storify story that’s no longer (or soon to be no longer) accessible, the Not Storify story link should be the same, but with “not” at the beginning:

https://storify.com/SarahB_MD/aasfc16/ → ✅https://notstorify.com/SarahB_MD/aasfc16/

If a link doesn’t work, that’s because it’s not currently archived in Not Storify (and only a very small fraction are). To request your own Storify stories be downloaded into Not Storify, send me an email. To request someone else’s stories be saved for posterity, please ask them to contact me instead; I don’t want to archive anyone’s content without their permission.

Every story also includes a “colophon”, where you can get information about the Storify link it came from, download the exported files just as they came from Storify, and even get an appropriate format to cite the page should you be so interested. I have other enhancements planned as well, but I’ll forgo listing those for the moment to avoid any embarrassment at their taking a very long time to come to fruition.

As in any good academic discussion, I’ll point out some limitations beyond what’s already obvious. Most Storify stories (at least, of the ones I’ve seen) are built around text, links, and tweets, and that’s just about all Not Storify handles well. That also means that if Twitter ever goes kaput or otherwise shuts down its API, Not Storify will probably stop working as well. Above all, you’re only relying on my goodwill to keep Not Storify running. I will, as it takes minimal work for me, but you still have nothing more than my word.

I’ll continue to gather stories from Storify to archive at Not Storify for as long as Storify is working and you keep requesting that your stories be downloaded. When Storify shutters, that’s it; I have no reason to think I’ll be able to add content to Not Storify after that.

But it’ll still be there.

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