This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series WANTED: Social media scrapbook

Our parents and grandparents recorded their memories in baby books, year books, photo albums and Super 8. We have Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and blogs. Our tools have the virtue of immediacy: 140-character updates and cell phone cameras make it quick and easy to add to our collections, and the web enables real-time sharing.

Until Apple releases that much-rumored tablet, however, we can’t curl up with a blog or flip through a Flickr album with the same ease and intimacy you’d experience with a physical book. And our digital memories typically lack the curatorial dimension in which we choose the particular memories to record or images to juxtapose.

As I’ve shifted to recording our family’s memories in digital form, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of tools for presenting and preserving the daily capture of our stories and images. On the one hand, there are dozens, if not hundreds of services for printing photos in physical books. And there are hundreds, if not thousands of tools for aggregating every kind of online media into a single blog or site. But in my search for a service that will aggregate multiple sources of online content, and then prepare it for offline (and ideally also online) publication, I’ve come up empty.

With so many families, groups, and companies capturing and sharing their memories online, surely there is a huge potential market for a service that can convert that collective lifestream into a set of on- and offline photo albums or memory bookss. In our case, I’d just like a tool that would pull our Twitter updates together with our Flickr or iPhoto collections, using datestamps to combine tweets and photos from the same week or month into a nice montage. I haven’t updated my kids’ baby books in years, but I could put together a beautiful album each year based on the comments I’ve captured in Twitter and the photos I’ve snapped with my iPhone and camera.

Essentially, this tool would be a hybrid between a blog that aggregates from multiple web services (like Tumblr), an online photo album service (like that provided by Facebook, Flickr and many others) and a print-on-demand service (like Shutterfly or Lulu).

A service that met my needs would also have a strong potential market for school, community and company yearbooks. Imagine compiling a company yearbook from the tweets and photos of your entire team — a big company could even have separate pages and sections for each department. Nonprofits could use photos and tweets to compile annual reports on their activities. And I hear that the kids now use the Internet to communicate, too: they might have one or two Facebook updates that could help feed a great, relevant yearbook.

In my next few blog posts I’ll present a recommended feature set, a review of related tools and an interim solution.

Series NavigationFeature set for a social media scrapbook >>