September 03, 2013

A storytelling app I want but can’t build; maybe you can.

The Micronaxx & I make up bizarre, freewheeling bedtime stories nearly every night, just as my dad did with me. Unlike in the old days, we at least occasionally record the stories, but it’s rare. What would change that, giving us a better archive of family memories? I’d like a mobile app that would:

  • Record you telling your kids bedtime stories (maybe after prompting you just before bedtime)
  • Transcribe the text
  • Organize the sound & text files (into a book, journal, and/or timeline layout)
  • Let you add descriptive metadata & tags to stories
  • Enable easy publishing from the journal to a blog, Tumblr, etc.
  • Maybe let you add other supporting media (illustrations, photos, links, etc.)
  • Maybe let you present those images, etc. at various times as the story progresses

I think the key thing is in the recording/transcription: Without that it’s dead in the water, even for a guy like me. Prompting & organization would be good, but I really want to see the output (even if rough).

I won’t get to build such an app anytime soon, if ever, so I’m throwing the idea into the ether in case you’d find it interesting (either as a user or as a developer). Maybe the “bedtime story” angle seems too niche-y, but you might be surprised: RapGenius started just by annotating rap lyrics & is now very well funded to socially annotate any kind of document. “Do one thing well” instead of starting with ocean-boiling.

If you’d pay for such an app, please speak up—and if you’d build it, I’ll happily be your first customer.

Posted by John Nack at 11:24 AM on September 03, 2013


  • Ambrose — 11:36 AM on September 03, 2013

    This sounds eerily like something I saw in one of the guest speaker presentations I had in my first year foundations course. So I believe someone already has at least a prototype.

    [I’d imagine it’s pretty technically trivial to build, provided one could tap into APIs for transcription & data sync. If companies like Google & Evernote don’t already offer these things, I’m guessing they will. –J.]

    But if I remember correctly, how to solve copyright problems (that relate to the sharing/blogging aspects) was one of the big concerns raised.

    [I doubt that’s a problem for this use case. No one else asserts rights to our lunacy. :-) –J.]

  • John Stevenson — 11:44 AM on September 03, 2013

    hi John, Chris Mayer – who is U.K.-based and the founder of CodeStore – might be willing to at least advise you – he was very supportive of a unrealized ambition I had for app development … apps based upon his Comic Book and Story Book projects are quite popular (and have attracted some very imaginative authors):

    [Thanks, John; I’ll try to drop him a line. –J.]

  • michael jahn — 12:11 PM on September 03, 2013

    I can think of several developers, but I would love to see what Evan & Gregg Spiridellis ( Co-Founders, Brothers, and Dads ) would think – they are the JibJab guys, but also have something called StoryBots.

    [Yep—they came to mind for me, too. I should run the idea by them. –J.]

  • Pieter Collier — 2:57 PM on September 03, 2013

    this app idea is great, but so far even the bigger publishers don’t succeed in making good interactive books for tablets and iphones, seen some nice children books with “some” interaction, but nothing fancy or smart yet. i want to be able to research meaning of words, get alternative version, original manuscript switch, annotations, historical facts, animations, movies, side info… o yes I want anything related to the book that would be fast and nice to be integrated. Like the ultimate The Hobbit book! Wooo wantssss it

  • Beau — 11:50 AM on September 10, 2013

    i think Evernote has most of this covered (except the publish part)

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