I demo about 5-6 new tech products every week, often with a little handholding from the company behind the technology because my brain absorbs information much better when somebody tells me about it rather than when I read something or try to figure it out myself. The other day, I was on the phone with the CEO of a new startup, Flowgram, and he directed me to a link with an explanation of Flowgram created as a Flowgram. My reaction? Absolutely Brilliant!
Every once in a while, I come across a Web 2.0/social media tool that not just speaks to me but sings to me. Right away, I get it and really, really want to use it. Flowgram is like a screencast, only better. A screencast uses software on your desktop to capture your visuals and your audio, and you end up with a self-contained file that is…well, contained and not interactive.
Flowgram, however, provides the functionality of screencast software entirely online so any web site you show in your Flowgram is totally live. That means that as a person views your flowgram, they can click on a link and explore a site. So if you made a Flowgram as a tour of your online store, a person could click on an item you show in your Flowgram and immediately purchase the item from your site.
A person can also pause, rewind and skip through a Flowgram so they view at their own pace and in their own way. You can even build stops into your flowgram with instructions for a person to click the Play button again when they are ready to proceed. Even though you are not really there guiding people through your Flowgram, you can produce it to make it feel like you are.
The Elements of a Flowgram
You aren’t just limited to live web pages for your Flowgram. You can also use:
- PowerPoint slides and other documents
- RSS and Atom Feeds
- Custom Pages – pages you create using the Flowgram WYSIWYG program
Flowgram provides you a number of editing tools including
- Highlighting pen – handy for highlighting text on the page you are showing.
- Flowgram notes – to add a digital “sticky” note to a page with additional information or instructions.
- Timeline – to view your Flowgram timeline like a video or audio timeline.
- Add Media – to add background music.
Web Worker Uses of Flowgrams
Right away, I can see using a flowgram for
- Explaining something about the Internet to my clients;
- Showcasing work I’ve done for clients and talking through a case study;
- Developing a portfolio of my work and giving some commentary on pieces;
- Showing off the Second Life products I’ve produced and link people to my CafePress store;
- Offering lessons on my web site or blog explaining Internet and social media concepts.
These ideas barely scratch the surface of ways I can use Flowgrams.
So I had all these great ideas and attempted my very first Flowgram. It’s a little rough (to put it mildly) as I get used to the tools. I think I need to watch another Flowgram that gives more detailed instructions about the mechanics behind creating a Flowgram.
The tools weren’t as easy to use or intuitive as I had hoped. In fact, if I didn’t already have a bit of audio and video editing experience, I would have been totally lost. But even with my editing abilities, my Flowgram is still rough, especially the transitions and mixed audio quality. The audio is being pulled from my built in microphone but I find the audio quality on Flowgram to be almost as bad as Viddler’s record function. I don’t seem to have the same problem with a site like Seesmic so not sure what is causing the bad audio.
And I can’t figure out how to get the page scrolling I do when I record the Flowgram to show up in my finished Flowgram unless I highlight text somewhere on the page (maybe that’s the secret). I’m sure as I use it more – and seek out more instructions – I’ll be able to produced much more polished Flowgrams.
Despite the momentary frustrations and the learning curve, I’m excited about this product and how it will help me with my work.