Telling Digital Stories with StoryMapJS

The bank holiday affords the luxury of playing around with all the little bits of code and technology that one saves for that oft too often mythical ‘later’. I found a bit of later today and decided to try out StoryMap JS Authoring Tool – a really handy and user friendly implementation with the spatial side of their stunning Timeline JS  tool (used very nicely for example in the recent Hilda Tweedy Archive project at Trinity College Dublin). My humble project below (also available via their own CDN The McAteers in Guelph) repurposes some bits from an article I published 12 years ago looking at a particular family’s experience in the later Victorian hotel trade in Canada as exemplar of the wider evolution of the trade.

As the folks from Northwestern University’s KnightLab elaborate: ‘StoryMapJS is a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events.’ That is, it creates an engaging environment to construct a shareable narrative combining digital objects that you combine to tell a good story. In the case of this particular tool it works with events (although the time element is more implied and not enforced) that have place-based relevance. You essentially create storyboards combining the place, with text and visual objects to tell the story, link them together as you would using a PowerPoint slide sorter and publish your creation.
As you can see you above, the result is presented slickly within an iFrame for your own site or you can go even further. As the tool keeps its data nicely parcelled in JSON files that it saves to your own Google Drive, you have ownership and control over your own work. In fact, you can then take the result further tweaking its display for your own taste and needs. The framework itself  is completely open source and there for your experimentation, use and feedback. Using their online editor, all your projects are developed in a very slick workspace and published at a unique URL for your use.

This is a rather cool addition to the multimedia digital narrative space. I need to take my same basket of digital goods and see how this exhibit would look in Omeka.

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