Storehouse

I’ve been playing with Storehouse lately (see Rites de passage, Cinque Terre, Street Art B and Musée du quai Branly) and it’s great. For those of you who haven’t heard of Storehouse, it’s basically an iPhone/iPad app for storytelling. Building beautiful stories is painfully simple; while Storehouse delivers the best experience in the app, all stories are automatically being rendered as responsive web pages, mimicking the app look and feel quite well. Everybody can see and share the stories, no matter which device.

Storehouse as a mobile/touch-only content creation tool (horrible word) is very well executed. Same goes for the story design. Everything looks elegant, premium. As Vincent Laforet explains, even the TOS are OK – which is so not a standard in this field.

As soon as I started building my first pages in Storehouse it hit me that this is exactly what Flickr needs. Flickr, still from a platform perspective a fine option to store huge numbers of photographs online, has lost much of the buzzing around pictures that made it so fascinating in the early days (at least in my subjective perception).

The “set”, as Flickr calls bundles of photographs, hasn’t much evolved. It’s a monotone grid/list of photographs. Since I started using Twitter or Facebook nobody I know has shared a Flickr set, ever.

What people hunger for is a beautifully crafted, awesome set design (think of varying picture sizes, nice responsive clustering) and an option to add text modules or quotes in classy fonts. Enter Storehouse. The seamless interface between Storehouse and Flickr makes it easy to handle Flickr sets like a back catalogue and re-celebrate them in a new, fresh look on Storehouse.

There’s a problem looming for Flickr because providing cheap, worry-free photo storage – a big deal back in 2004 when Flickr took off – is a commodity now. Nobody cares. But people care a lot about easy ways to build great looking stories they can’t wait to share.

Her

Of course the end of “Her” is analogue. OS1, the operating system Theodore fell in love with, said goodbye, en route to a higher consciousness. Theodore and his friend Amy watch a mellow sunset over Los Angeles. Amy puts her head on Theodore’s shoulder. Orrr.

I love the color of “Her”. Everything in earth tones, even the sky is a mild grey or sending warm twinkles. A world with almost no advertisements and funny waistbands.

There’s this moment early on in the movie when you have to admit you’d fall for OS1 in a second. Just because of curiosity. It’s a new frontier, so people can impossibly resist to check it out.

Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Stasi (State Security) Prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Back from a long visit to the former Stasi (State Security) prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, I’m still trying to stomach the input. I’ve previously seen the Stasi headquarters in Lichtenberg, a must see destination for everyone interested in history; but Hohenschönhausen is certainly a different experience. The former prison remained mostly unchanged since 1989 and is now a memorial. Guided tours by former prisoners help to understand what happened in Hohenschönhausen and how the Stasi acted until the end of the GDR.

Our guide was imprisoned in Hohenschönhausen because he was involved in a failed escape attempt trying to cross the border. He never knew he actually was in Hohenschönhausen – the Stasi made huge efforts to leave prisoners in the dark about their whereabouts. It was only in the 1990s during a visit in Hohenschönhausen when he recognized his former prison. “A difficult experience”, as he recalled.

Most of the violence was psychological – leading prisoners in temptation with more food or better living conditions; faking severe illness of loved ones; threatening to forward people to even worse prisons.

Imprisonment conditions overall were torturous. Months and years of strict isolation, the narrowness of their cells, a lack of daylight and systematic sleep deprivation were meant to break the perseverance of arrested dissidents.

Today, many of the former prisoners are still traumatized. Our guide recalled how he was brought to a hospital with an ambulance a few years ago due to an injury. Not knowing where he was and where the ambulance was going triggered a full force panic attack he just barely managed to get under control.

He started to work as a guide in Hohenschönhausen in 2009 after retirement. Since then he has received various threats from former Stasi employees and gets insulted on a regular basis. He was even being spat at by people denouncing him as a “Märchenerzähler” (Fairy tale teller).