AuthorBee takes a different tack with long-form Twitter tales

Twitter’s focus on immediacy means most of what we tweet ends up lost in the ether after an hour—maybe a few days, if you tweet something particularly incendiary. But AuthorBee wants to give you tools to create longer-lasting content on Twitter with a new storytelling platform.

While Storify and Twitter’s own Custom Timelines let you curate Twitter tweets to your heart’s content, AuthorBee’s focus is content creation. The Web-based platform is designed for storytelling in 140-character chunks, but AuthorBee founder Stephen Bradley envisions the site will be used in many other ways: crowdsourcing song lyrics, writing recipes, or any other collaborative effort.

AuthorBee lets you pose a prompt on Twitter and create a story based on crowdsourced responses.

Storytelling, 21st century style

The platform’s one downfall is that you have to mention @AuthorBee in your tweet to initiate or add to a storyline, which reduces the number of characters you have for your own content. You also have to reply to a tweet—either your own or a collaborator’s—to continue the thread, cutting down your available space even more.

But the premise is an interesting one. You can create your own storyline on AuthorBee using your own tweets and any third-party contributions, and others can create their own storylines using the same content. Anyone can publish a timeline, which links back to AuthorBee.

Bradley is no stranger so the world of entertainment—or startups. He served as president of NPD Group, a media research firm, and has a long and varied resume within the tech world.

He said AuthorBee plans to work with brands to help them create custom storylines, which is conceivably where the startup will make money. A beer company could initiate a contest around New York pubs to crowdsource an epic bar crawl. Users could contribute their suggestions on Twitter using the @AuthorBee mention and a company-approved hashtag. Then on AuthorBee, they could create their own custom crawl. The company could then pick a winner.

If your tweets reference a hashtag that corresponds with AuthorBee’s channels—fiction, sports, cooking, etc.—your storyline will fall into a specific section on the site for easier discovery.

The future of curation

AuthorBee’s user interface is a little confusing at first look, but leveraging Twitter for crowdsourcing and curating original content has potential. Twitter itself recognizes the staying power of tweets, though its efforts with Custom Timelines and surfacing conversational threads to the top of a Timeline are rooted primarily in its mission as the “global town square.” Breaking news and events are Twitter’s bread and butter. AuthorBee is more creative.

“We’re excited about Twitter’s Custom Timelines because it’s strong validation of what we’re doing,” Bradley said. “Twitter talks a lot about wanting to be the platform for creative expression. But there’s still some things that need to happen to make that an effective platform. These are things we’ve been working on for more than a year.”

AuthorBee isn’t solely focused on Twitter. In Michigan, the platform is being tested as a Facebook-based education tool to help students learn how to write. The company is also exploring where it can fit with the fan fiction community.

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