Storify Has Competition, and It’s Called Brickflow

Just when you think you’ve mastered the art of quick, effective visual storytelling, there’s a brand new tool to learn.

The latest tool for journalists to tinker with? Brickflow, a building-blocks type of application you can use in the newsroom that is both super fun and a simple way to enhance your image-based storytelling efforts. Literally, it’s kind of a toy, as its creators liken the process to Legos.

Think of this addition to your storytelling library, built by Hungarian developers, like Storify — only the end result is a square-shaped slideshow rather than a vertical story flow.

Here’s how it works:

Brickflow allows users to search for hashtags and compile corresponding pieces of content (bricks) found across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr into a workable story. You can drag and drop each tile where you want it, piecing together a sensible visual narrative, and voila — you’ve got embeddable and sharable content for the Web. If the topic doesn’t need to be chronological, you can “remix” your flow and rearrange the story.

Crowdfunded via Indiegogo (with a $10,000 goal) and led by a team that includes a former Harvard University-funded startup incubator participant, a man who worked for Prezi, and a filmmaker, Brickflow released its public beta just days ago. They say they are the first social media curator allowing users to string together multiple Instagram videos in a story format. That feature alone could be a game changer for journalists.

Before playing around on Brickflow, I really didn’t want to compare it to Storify, but I realized I was enjoying the process for the same reason. Both apps give you the feeling of putting together pieces of a puzzle. I created a couple of Brickflow stories about Anthony Weiner and the Texas Legislature haphazardly, but I have no doubt I’d be able to design a coherent, publishable slideshow for any one of my pieces in 10 minutes or less. You can add text relevant to slides to provide context if needed. Though given the nature of Brickflow, I can’t imagine needing to interrupt the flow too much with text, since the whole point is to be creative visually (everyone remember that “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text” statistic?).

My only complaint would be that the videos and some photos appeared a little low-res while playing in the slideshow. Considering only that aspect, I might prefer to use Animoto. Still, that app doesn’t serve the same purpose as Storify or Brickflow.

While Brickflow works out its kinks, I’d encourage everyone to create a free account and start thinking through how you can use it in the newsroom.

Here’s an example of a Brickflow slideshow about the upcoming Steve Jobs movie, created “in seconds” with the hashtag #JobsMovie.

What do you think about Brickflow as a tool for journalists? Any suggestions about how to make it more user-friendly?