So, Northwestern’s KnightLab has a lot of awesome tools, and I might as well get their logo tattooed over my heart, ’cause I sort of love them. StoryMapJS is a way to show a story in text and image while also displaying the relevant location on a map. As the story progresses, the map moves around and allows you to interact with the story differently. For this project, I used largely the same data as for TimeLineJS, using strategic copy/pasting. The result, as you’ll see, is somewhat different.
Unlike TimelineJS, this tool does not require use of a spreadsheet but rather is built in a manner resembling a presentation. Each event is a slide, and for every slide you have the option to manually place the geomarker or to search for a location and have it automatically placed accordingly. As I was mistakenly under the hopeful belief that I could import from Google Maps, I had already created a KML file of all the required locations. Entering them again (I’m beginning to see a theme with this project) was tedious, but pretty simple as the search field had a handy autocomplete feature and was spot on most of the time. It also helps that Rome is a pretty small city.
One of the main features I enjoyed using was the media selection feature, which is able to pull Flickr images from their page link without requiring a specific image URL. As Flickr makes finding such a URL very difficult, this feature saved me a lot of time and grief. No digging through the embed code for 50 jpgs to get the URL, no strategic screenshotting (which is dubious anyway), no hoping you have the right resolution… it does it for you.
When you create a StoryMapJS, it links to your Google account and saves the file on your Drive in a similar manner to TimelineJS, so you can stop and start back up again when you need to. I found this very useful as I had to switch browsers a few times to figure out which one was the best (Firefox, shocker).
StoryMapJS was created for Journalists to tell stories in a format other than the usual print/text+image format to which we are accustomed. Its purpose is not scholarly by nature, but it lends itself well to scholarly content and storytelling. It is easy to pick up and learn and requires no data formatting or coding, so while the bar is low the returns are high.