Kennan says Sandy Storyline hopes to collect even more tweets, texts, photos, and voices at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend. This is the first year of Tribeca’s “Storyscapes” program, which includes Sandy Storyline and several other documentary projects. The installation is made up of several screens, displaying visitor-contributed tweets in real time, benches to sit and watch an hourlong video collage, and, fittingly, a mobile phone charging station. 

The Sandy Storyline exhibit on Varick Street opened Thursday evening and runs until Sunday night. (It is open and free to the public: more information here.) After that, says Kennan, the display may be broken up into parts and set up in various affected communities, where the story collecting will continue. 

As quickly as this project has grown, and as directly inspired as it was by this particular disaster, the founders say they can also see real potential for the platform’s extended life. “We want to keep it open-source, and we want to keep the process transparent, so that when another event happens, that this entire platform could be turned on again, or replicated,” says Kennan.

To that end, they are applying for grants and soliciting reader donations, to help build and support the technology needed to help the project continue. Kennan added that it made no difference to them whether the platform is used by the same network of journalists the next time around, or by anyone else. What matters is that Storyline can be of use to the people who have the stories to tell, at just the time when they may need to tell them most.


Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner