Hoping To Find Space Between WordPress And Tumblr, Journal App Narrato Adds Web Publishing

As tempting as it is to call this a pivot of sorts, in many ways Narrato is returning to its roots. The journal app for iOS can still be used for private lifelogging, pulling in and curating various content such as Tweets, Foursquare checkins, and Quantified Self data. However, hoping to occupy the space left between WordPress and Tumblr — if such a space exists — the UK startup is beefing up the journaling side of Narrato with the introduction of Web publishing. Specific journals can now be made fully public, appearing in a new Web directory, or sharable via a private URL.

The move, says Narrato co-founder Ramy Khuffash, came about after lessons learned from observing how the app’s 50,000 users (~44% of which are active monthly) currently use the app. Top of that list is the way people mash up different kinds of ‘lifelogging’ data. In particular, Quantified Selfers, thus far, tend to only be those who are interested in fitness-related data, which obviously narrows down the appeal of Narrato as it was conceived. That said, the startup is still intending on opening up its platform to developers who could come up with ways to make the data proposition stick.

But what has garnered wider appeal is the app’s simple journaling features, such as the ability for a user to create different kinds of journals for different parts of their lives, whether that be original journal entries or curating timely or topic-related content pulled in from their Narrato Life Stream. It’s a use-case that was crying out for a way of publishing those journals on the Web.

“We launched Narrato as a lifelogging service that lets you import your content from services you already use. Our intention was to help people learn more about themselves by highlighting trends and correlations in their data,” explains Khuffash. “The problem was that most people interested in the Quantified Self were only interested in specific aspects, mainly fitness. The few who track more parts of life see the value in aggregating their data and looking for deeper insights, but not enough to want to pay for it.”

Instead, Khuffash says its users “love how easy lifelogging is with Narrato” and enjoy organising their content into journals based on topics and events. “We decided to focus our efforts on what was working”.

Furthermore, not all users want to keep all of their journals private, all of the time. A requested feature, says Khuffash, was the option to have controlled, per-journal sharing. “You can continue recording your life unfiltered with Narrato because it’s private by default, but you now have the option of making journals private, unlisted, or public. Only the people with access to your unique link can see your unlisted journal, and public journals are searchable for anyone to enjoy.”

This means that you can have a private journal for your most private thoughts and data, while, for example, you could also create a holiday journal (see example) that you share with friends, or a parenting journal only given out to close family members.

“There’s no shortage of online publishing options, but none make it as easy to record and organise life privately, with the option of controlled sharing, which is what we’re seeing clear demand for.”