Storehouse released their iPad app yesterday, and it is stunning. Storehouse is a storytelling app that allows you to combine text, images and video into beautifully designed one-page stories that can be consumed inside the app and on the web.
The Storehouse app is not only beautifully designed, the team also nailed the editing and viewing experience. Scaling images and moving elements around is really easy and fun. I especially love how video clips are seamlessly integrated into the stories, as in this example.
And yet I will probably never use the app (apart from a sample story I created to test the app).
I Want to Control my Content
Storehouse has a lot in common with sites like Medium and Exposure. They all make publishing your content easy, present it beautifully and promise that a larger audience will see your creation than what most people can reach with their personal website.
The price you have to pay for this is giving up control over your creation, though. And to me, this price is too high. Like Medium and Exposure, Storehouse is free, with all the consequences that “business model” brings. As a user, you must assume that anything you publish on Storehouse will some day either be plastered with ads or will no longer be there at all (not that using a paid service is a guarantee for longevity).
Yielding control feels easier for ephemeral things like tweets (though I’d love to host them on my server, too), but for long-form writing or other creative output that I’m reasonably proud of, I want to control the URL where it is published. Deviating from that rule—for a guest post on another blog, for instance—should require me to have considerable trust in the other party, which rules out young startups as well as any of the major tech companies.
Would They Give me Control?
Note that having control over the URL does not imply control over the server where the content is stored. If Storehouse or Medium offered the option to use a custom domain for publishing while still hosting stuff on their servers, I would be all for it. But I realize that doing so would weaken their “brand” and I belong to the minority of people who are both interested in such a feature and nerd enough to set it up so I’m not holding my breath for it.
Marco Arment’s August 2013 post Medium and Being Your Own Platform on the same topic is also worth reading.