Rakonto: What it is, and how to use it
Discover how to use Rakonto to record your family members
How many stories and fascinating facts are locked up in your loved ones’ memories? Rather than try to write it all down, a much easier way is to encourage your family to make audio and video recordings of themselves reminiscing about your shared past, and the Rakonto website offers a fascinating platform on which to do just that.
Rakonto organises your family’s history into stories and collections, allowing you to not simply record memories, but also attach other elements – photographs, files and even timelines of events. A ‘Free Forever’ account offers 1 GB of storage, or after the 30-day trial you can pay $9 a month (or $84 a year) for 10 GB of storage as well as an automatic transcription tool for recordings in English.
Setting up Rakonto is simple enough. Visit Rakonto on your computer, smartphone or tablet and click or tap ‘Try for Free’ to create your own personal account – just follow the prompts and click the link in the confirmation email. Then we recommend clicking ‘Take a tour’ for a quick video overview. When you’re done, our guide will show you how to create stories, elicit (and receive) stories from relations, and organise all of your content into collections. A Rakonto collection of recordings is a great way to share your family history. Make sure that you click 'Download' after creating a video or audio story to store a backup copy of the recording on your computer or mobile device.
1. Set up a collection
From the main screen click ‘Collections’ at the top followed by ‘New Collection’. Think of your collection as a topic – give it a name, description and type, then upload an image file that will serve as a thumbnail. When you’ve finished, click ‘Create’ to save your new collection.
2. Create your first story
Now click ‘Stories’ at the top followed by ‘New story’. Enter its name into the title field – if you’re short on ideas, you can type a keyword into the box beneath the title field and choose a suggestion from the dropdown list. Click ‘Next’, provide a description of the story and click ‘Next’ again.
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3. Add your video or audio file
If you’ve previously recorded a video or audio file (most popular formats are supported), click ‘Choose file’ to upload it; otherwise click ‘Video’ or ‘Audio’ to make a recording using your mobile device or computer’s camera and microphone. Follow the prompts to start and stop recording.
4. Review your recording
Once the file is recorded, click the Play button to review it. Click ‘Re-record’ if you’re not happy with it, otherwise choose ‘Save’ to transfer it to your Rakonto account – an indicator reveals how the upload is progressing. If you’re a paid subscriber, a transcript of the audio is then created automatically.
5. Tag stories
The ‘People’, ‘Places’ and ‘Timeline’ tabs allow you to tag stories. Type a person’s name to create them (you can then select them again for other stories later), with an optional thumbnail image and web link. ‘Places’ lets you pinpoint a location on a map – search by postcode for a quick match.
6. Add more elements
You can also record a timeline featuring multiple events – each requires a date (MM/DD/YY), title and description. ‘Photos’ allows you to attach relevant images to your story, while ‘Files’ can be used to attach other material, such as documents or certificates. ‘Links’ lets you store relevant web links.
7. Review, edit and publish
Your story will have been saved to the default collection – click ‘Change Collection’ under any tab, select the collection you created in Step One, then click ‘Move’ to transfer it across. Perform any other tweaks using the ‘Edit’ button, then flick the ‘Draft’ switch to ‘Publish’ it.
8. Share with others
By default, the story can be shared with anyone simply by providing a link – flick the ‘Do not require email to see story’ switch to make it available only to those you specifically invite. Return to ‘Collections’ and click ‘Share’ to choose whether to share that collection’s stories publicly or privately.
9. Encourage contributions
If you’d like other members of the family to contribute to a collection, click ‘Request a story’ on the collection’s main page. Work through the prompts to create a user-friendly wizard your family will follow when recording, then wait for their contributions to appear within your collections.