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robertogreco : stacks   5

The House That Fish Built — Medium
"Around the time Sloan published Fish, I had been wanting to move my explanatory storytelling studio towards a new visual medium. Newsbound had produced several video explainers earlier that year — on wonky subjects like the filibuster and the federal budget process. They had attracted healthy traffic, but our user testing had revealed a pacing problem. Everyone loved the accessible illustrations and animations, but more-informed viewers often complained that our narrator (yours truly) spoke too slowly. Newcomers to the subject matter felt the opposite — that it was too much information too fast.

I’d already entertained the idea of a self-paced, slideshow-esque format, but worried that requiring the user to continuously click or tap their way through a narrative might be too tedious. Then I found myself standing in line for a sandwich at Pal’s, happily tapping my way through Fish.

I was bewitched by this medium — and emboldened.

In the days that followed, I created a prototype in Keynote (a chronological explanation of the Trayvon Martin story). Using their iOS app, I could simulate the “tap-essay” experience on an iPhone. Over the next few weeks, we tested that prototype with a series of users. They took vastly different amounts of time to complete the explainer, but stuck with it nonetheless. Most of them complimented the format, telling us that they had “lost themselves” in the story and expressing surprise when we showed them a text-only print-out of the 1,500 words they had just consumed in bite-sized pieces. (“I would never read something that long!”)

The Newsbound team continued to refine the reading experience and started building our own web-based technology to power it. Around the same time, Sloan wrote an essay for Contents reminiscing about Hypercard stacks and predicting their triumphant return:
“We will start to make stacks in earnest again. We will develop a new grammar for this old format. We will talk about rhythm and reveals and tweetable cards. We will know how many cards an average person can tap through in one sitting. We will know when to use stacks…and when to just scroll on. Twenty-five years later, we will prove the hypertext researchers wrong: cards are pretty cool after all.”

When we published our first embeddable, public-facing explainer in this format (on the history of political conventions), we called it a “stack.” Internally, we started referring to our software as “Stacker.”

Newsbound has since published over 75 stacks — some of them original works, some client projects. Our embeddable player has appeared on the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, BoingBoing, The Atlantic, Upworthy, as well as in Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter.

Over this period, we’ve gathered granular analytics (all those clicks and taps are trackable, after all) and observed remarkable engagement rates. For instance, out of the 50,000 people who started reading this Gates Foundation stack on the history of international family planning, 65 percent finished it, spending 4–5 minutes on average. Over 80 percent completed this OZY stack on Iceland’s marriage norms. The minimum wage explainer we produced in tandem with KQED has been launched nearly one million times.

This year, we released Stacker as a platform to a beta group of writers and designers. They are now creating their own stacks and, every week, we are onboarding more people from the waiting list (which has grown to over 400)."
hypercard  slidedecks  stacks  journalism  design  2015  robinsloan  frankchimero  joshkalven  format  webdev  webdesign 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Stacks — Tools to work and play better
"Stacks is a new way to find and share tools that help you work and play better.

We’re curious about tools that work well together, and how the right combinations of tools can be empowering. We built Stacks to help everyone share these collections, so we can all find the right tools when we need them.

We’re @stackshq on Twitter, or you can ask us questions or send us your feedback to hello@stackshq.com.

Made by Offset
Stacks is the first product from Offset, the digital studio at MOO. Want to know what else we're up to? Follow us on Twitter (@offsethq) and Medium."

[via: https://www.stackshq.com/@revdancatt/podcast-construction-9yun3wjr ]
stacks  tools  toolbelts  collections  sharing  toolkits  onlinetoolkit 
march 2015 by robertogreco
My student asked me a question | Gardner Writes
"What I always try to do, whenever I teach, is to arrange the class as a shared project. We’re making a movie together. We’re making a record together. We’re building a house together. The whole meta-team idea was an extreme version of something I now recognize I’d been doing for decades. The idea of the course as a series of meetings, all self-contained, has always been boring to the point of hysteria for me. I’d have a similar reaction (have had, in fact) to a PowerPoint presentation full of inane and obvious bullet points and nothing else–no images, no video, no sound, nothing out of the ordinary. Same thing. All inert lists.

Over time, inert lists have come to be expected by many students, maybe even most students. They actually come to prefer it, very often. Inert lists make everything so much more manageable. Stuff in stacks. I didn’t want stuff in stacks. I wanted art or mystery or eureka or games or symphonies or laboratories or studios.

So when I teach, I try to convey, in every way I can imagine, that this is not going to be an experience of stuff in stacks. And every time I sense a student is going along with the idea of no-stuff-in-stacks, I try to reward that right away with attention and commitment and equal blends of zaniness and intensity. When one fishes, there’s an art to landing the fish: the line has to be taut, but not so taut that it snaps or the fish gets away somehow. It takes a lot of patient back-and-forth and an art of the line as subtle as how a violinist holds her bow to make the strings sing. (Not to worry: I’m a catch-and-release kind of fisherman, though I do eat fish, I will confess.)

What’s never worked, in my experience, is making 90% of the experience stuff-in-stacks and making 10% “freedom to learn,” because the 90% just overwhelms the 10%. Truth to tell, “stuff-in-stacks” can overwhelm “freedom to learn” even at the 5% level. Stuff-in-stacks is a poison and it doesn’t take much to kill the learning.

I don’t know if any of that is helpful. All I can say this morning is that I try as hard as I can to help nudge the class forward in its journey, its project, its writing-itself-into-being. I try as hard as I can to let the class nudge me forward, too, because I’m also in it for the learning. And I try to do this with an absolute minimum, as close to zero as I can make it, of stuff-in-stacks. This is one of the reasons I love the internet. The web, at least so far, is full of what Walt Whitman calls “barbaric yawps.” These yawps can be like throwing a window wide open in the early spring, just before it’s really warm enough to do so, but just when you really want to because the stale inside winter air is just too stifling. So we shiver some, and we take in the cold air, and we smell some of the mud and early growth of just-spring, and our brains clear and our hearts beat faster for just a little while. And sometimes that’s enough to get everyone over the school-as-stuff-in-stacks hump and we can get another magic moment and recapture that feeling of determined yes.

I don’t mind syllabi or semesters. I kind of like final exams. I love projects and highly refined and purposeful zaniness. When creative thinking and critical thinking marry and have a child, the child’s name is joy–it’s the same child born to Cupid and Psyche in the old tale by Apuleius.

You’re working very hard to push a huge rock up a steep hill. When I teach, I have the opportunity to frame the whole encounter very differently. You don’t have that opportunity. But you do have extraordinary shining eyes and a heart for adventure and a mind for keen insight. So I’d say you should talk with the students, heart to heart, and tell them what your dreams are for this experience, and then see if anyone responds. If anyone does, then find a way to celebrate that, and keep on hoping that the response will catch on."
gardnercampbell  canon  teaching  howweteach  2014  via:audreywatters  stacks  freedomtolearn  learning  howwelearn  engagement  lcproject  tcsnmy  cv  openstudioproject  creativity  criticalthinking  content  openended  collaboration  cooperation  open-ended 
march 2014 by robertogreco
House of Cards | Contents Magazine
Robin resuscitates HyperCard-like stacks.

"We will start to make stacks in earnest again. We will develop a new grammar for this old format. We will talk about rhythm and reveals and tweetable cards. We will know how many cards an average person can tap through in one sitting. We will know when to use stacks…and when to just scroll on. Twenty-five years later, we will prove the hypertext researchers wrong: cards are pretty cool after all."

Later, we discuss: http://branch.com/b/cards-scrolls-flexibility-text-that-knows-whassup

Full conversation now here: http://storify.com/rogre/stacking-scrolling-interacting-evolving-and-branch
comments  design  text  writing  stacks  robinsloan  2012  contentsmagazine  hypercard  scrolling  pagination 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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