Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]
Back in July we told you about 18DaysInEgypt, an initiative coming out of Cairo, in which a four-man team was taking on the mammoth project of crowdsourcing the story of Egypt’s uprising at the beginning of 2011, using their newly created platform GroupStream.
The 18DaysInEgypt service has just launched its public beta, and is inviting users to sign-up and contribute their own personal stories and media from within the uprising. The name of the service makes direct reference to the 18 days in Egypt that changed the course of the country’s history – from when the uprising began on January 25 to the former Egyptian president, Hosny Mubarak, stepping down on Feburary 11.
Of course, users are not limited to submitting stories about those 18 days, as the struggle has continued long after Mubarak’s departure, with ongoing protests, arrests and more.
How the service works
To contribute stories, users can log in through Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo. From there they can create stories by picking a specific day, adding a title and description and a location on Google Maps. The final step allows you to invite friends to contribute, via Facebook, Twitter or email.
You can add content to your story from a variety of sites and services. 18DaysInEgypt currently supports Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube, and you can can also add your own links, text and uploaded videos and photos.
To see 18DaysInEgypt in action, check out the introductory video below:
The final story is posted as a slideshow, which you can leave to play or scroll through. You can see how many times a story has been viewed, how many people are contributing to it, and how many favourites it has received.
The viewing process is a little bit clunky, as you can’t tell how much media is available in each story, and have to simply keep scrolling through until you reach the end. The ability to view the media as a list, rather than a slideshow, where you can easily pick and choose what you want to see would definitely be a welcome change.
Once all of the data has been collected on the site, it will be used to create an interactive web-based documentary experience, slated for a Fall 2012 launch.
Competition for Storify
As one of 18DaysInEgypt’s co-founders Yasmin told us in July, the team isn’t just building one site, they’re building a platform, GroupStream, which is currently in private beta:
“We realized very early on that the platform we are building was a very powerful tool. We are building a collaborative-storytelling platform that would enable any crowd or community to tell the story of any event or uprising as they saw it, raw from the source, from the ground.”
As we’re seeing it on the 18DaysInEgypt site, GroupStream looks like it could prove to be a great competitor for Storify, as a platform that allows anyone to create a story or timeline by pulling in content from various social media sites. And it does bring a few new significant features to the table.
First of all, the platform has a collaborative element to it, allowing more than one person to contribute to any given story. Since the entire service is rooted in the concept of crowdsourcing, it seems only logical to go one step further, giving you the option to invite others to have their say.
The second significant feature we’re seeing is that it offers a date-oriented method of pulling up information to add to a story. We all know how difficult it is to find a specific tweet from a specific date or event. With 18DaysInEgypt, you can narrow the visibility of tweets to a specific date, or a range of dates, making it easy to find and share content in minutes.
Of course, since the platform is in its beta phase, it is in need of some fine-tuning and additional features, such as the ability to easily embed stories elsewhere. But even as it stands, the service looks like it’s off to a great start.
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