Monday, January 20, 2014

Trying Out Flipboard, a Curated Magazine Website/Mobile App

After reading Lisa Louise Cooke's email about Flipboard last week, and seeing how the RootsTech 2014 magazine looked, I pondered (in Technology Tuesday: Read the RootsTech 2014 Flipboard Magazine) how I might use this program/app to introduce my extended family to the collected family pictures and stories about their ancestors.  I know that there are other programs and apps that can do this, but Flipboard really appealed to me, and it has on both browser and mobile app versions.  

Flipboard is a curated magazine - a magazine containing articles selected by a person to share with their family, friends, colleagues, readers, etc.

On Saturday I had some free time, so I spent several hours on the site, registered with my Facebook account, figured out how to use the program (it is not easy to find all of the steps - I fumbled around a lot! There are several video tutorials linked from the home page), downloaded the bookmarklet for Google Chrome and put it on my Bookmarks bar, found the magazine "editor," and made my first curated magazine.  Here is the process I used, and the result as shown on the web browser:

1)  I eventually found the magazine "Editor" (, which has a FAQ link to help confused readers like me), and created my first magazine - I called it "Betty's Life."

Note that I took the image above after I made the magazine.

2)  The "gear" below the magazine image (for "Edit magazine") permits me to add or edit the information about the magazine:

3)  The "Flip It" Bookmarklet is the key to adding content to the magazine.  I have it in my Google Chrome Bookmarks bar on the image below:

4)  To save the above specific web page to my magazine, I need to click on the "Flip It" bookmarklet, and it asks me to pick one of the images on the web page, and then click the "Next" button:

After clicking "Next," the popup asks me to confirm the upload to the magazine.  I did that.

3)  I went through my blog post file using "wordless wednesday" and my mother's name as the search terms, and found 40 different blog posts with a family picture to add to the magazine.

When I was finished, I saw thumbnails for my 40 blog posts, and was able to move them into approximate date order by dragging and dropping on the "Editor Dashboard" page.

I selected one photo of my mother for the "Cover story."

After I had done that, the "Editor Dashboard" looked like this:

4)  In order to save the magazine, I had to share it to a social media outlet.  There is a "Share magazine" icon below the thumbnail on the "Editor" screen, and I can choose Email, Twitter or Facebook.  I chose Facebook, and a link appeared on my Facebook wall:

5)  When I clicked on the "Betty's Life" link on my Facebook wall I was taken to the webpage for my Flipboard magazine at

The cover above shows the title and description of my magazine, along with links to articles within the magazine.  There is a right-arrow on the right side of the screen above, and that is how you "flip" to the successive magazine pages.

6)  Here is the magazine page for the blog post that I showed in step 3:

As you can see, there are two magazine articles linked on this page, one that takes about three quarters of the page, and one that takes about one quarter.  This is typical.  Each article shows the web page title, the magazine owner (not necessarily the article author), and the first 20 words or so for a "tease."  To read the entire article, the reader needs to click on the link and go to the web page.  This is done, of course, to protect the copyright of the author.  

The reader can use the right and left arrows on the side of the web page to go back or advance in the magazine.  

The placement of the wide and narrow articles seems to be in approximate date order, and sometimes depends on the size of the photographs.  A landscape photo will more often be in the wide section than a portrait photo.  Photo size in pixels may also play a part in the order of the articles - larger photos are usually on the wide portion of the page.

7) I learned a few things in how I can improve on this particular type of magazine:

*  Articles need shorter and catchy titles.  If I did this one over, I would use a title like "Betty in her Buggy - 1919" and would start the text with something more specific to the image.

*  The magazine has to be "Public" to be saved.

*  You have to "flip" a specific web page, not a home page or an archive page.  

*  You can "flip" a page with only text, but it's the photographs that catch the eye.

*  I doubt that document images will be of much interest to my readers.

*  Magazines can be added to or edited at any time.

*  Magazines don't have to be your own material - you can add articles from any web site.  It could be interesting articles that you found on any subject at any time.

8) I've thought of other opportunities for other magazines with a genealogy orientation:

*  Do a 52 Ancestor biography as a Flipboard magazine using Amanuensis, Wordless Wednesday and Treasure Chest posts with photos and document images.  

*  Do the "Best of Genea-Blogs" post as a Flipboard magazine.

*  Genealogical societies could create a magazine about their activities, and put it online - but it would need pictures.  It could also do a "Society in 2013" type of magazine to highlight what happened in a year as a historical record and a link in their membership materials.

*  An immediate photo album for a genealogical conference or even a society seminar or program meeting - take a picture, blog it, flip it, and update the magazine every hour or every day.  

*  Do a historical photo magazine of a place - e.g., "San Diego Historical Photos" - using articles found online.  

*  "My Family's Homes" using historical pictures of ancestral homes, workplaces, events, etc. 

I'm sure that others can figure out more interesting and fun things to do with Flipboard.  Please tell me any ideas you have and I'll be happy to publicize them.

9) I know that many other genealogists have already created Flipboard magazines for their personal research and society activities - please provide links and I'll highlight them.

The mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android are available, and I have downloaded them on my iPhone 5s and my Samsung Galaxy tablet, and have used them.  I'll share some images of my magazine above on the mobiles in a later post. 

Go forth and watch Flipboard - it's fun, and try it out.  Your extended family and friends may find that sharing family photos and stories this way may teach them more about their family history and their ancestors.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Root Digger said...

Thank you Randy for posting about Flipboard! This is an awesome tool. I love it, and will be doing my own...Great idea!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! Our Flipboard club saw it and posted to our page. Very great idea!

Jana Iverson Last said...


This is so cool!

I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!

Leslie Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Ann said...

I just joined Flipboard myself! I created a magazine to document my online searches in trying to solve mysteries surrounding a particular ancestor.

For example, I am trying to verify some old family histories and anything I run into that might help I just "flip it" to that magazine.

My cover page will always be the blog post that explains the magazine, but I have to move it to the front from the dashboard every time I flip something new.

I try to make a comment explaining why I flipped a page.

Here is the link to my magazine "Following the Grandma Mary" =>

p.s. I must note that the Flipboard Windows 8 app, and the web link address do not always reflect any changes you made from the dashboard.

venarbol said...

I read your blog from France and was inspired by this idea. Thanks to you, I created my own Flipboard webzine, dealing with my genealogical searches in Italy (in french):