Story Map Journal: A Geo-Multimedia Extravaganza

In July the Esri Story Maps team released the Story Map Journal, a new storytelling app that enables users to combine long-form text with rich multimedia content. Among the app’s features:

  • A “main stage” for large visuals, including maps, photos, videos, and websites
  • A “side panel” that accommodates titles, text. photos, and videos
  • A builder function that enables users to create media-rich stories without needing to have either GIS or web development skills
  • Ability to switch between layout options, and to make other refinements to color scheme, logo use, and more
  • Responsive design, making the app work on all screen sizes including smartphones

Map Journal builder function

Map Journal stories are organized into “sections,” each of which is associated with an item on the main stage. As users scroll through the side panel narrative, the main stage changes to display relevant content. the result can be a very rich mix of maps and multimedia.

We built the Map Journal app in hopes that we’d give story map authors license to…well…go wild! And that, in fact, is what is happening. Less than three months after the app’s release, we’re seeing a dizzying variety of uses, some quite  surprising and creative. Below is a small sampling; you can find more on our curated gallery. If you have created a Story Map Journal that you think we’d like to feature, please let us know!

Below you’ll find a small sampling of Story Map Journals, organized by topic area. Click images and links to view the stories.

History: The California Geographic Alliance built a short history of the California Gold Rush. And Esri’s cartographer extraordinaire Andrew Skinner told the extraordinary story of his father’s experience during World War II. It’s not strictly history, but this Map Journal by EsriUK’s Dom Saunders plots military cemeteries across the British Commonwealth.

Science: Johnathan Bascom and his colleagues at Michigan’s Calvin College are using Map Journal to create a virtual textbook on the geography of Ethiopia. Check out their latest on Potential Vegetation. The geography department at UK’s Wilmington School for Girls is doing cool stuff, including this look at disappearing glaciers.

Conservation: NatureServe, under a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is providing exciting tools for monitoring and protecting biodiversity around the world. Here’s their Fates Entwined: People and Biodiversity in the Mekong.

Travel: What better way to weave a travelogue than to combine maps, photos, and text? You’ll want to return again and again to John Smith’s Coast to Coast Bicycle Adventure. He’s adding to his journal as he goes. Another thoroughly-mapped travel tale: Deb and Brian’s “Finally to Newfoundland.”

Humanitarian affairs: From Turin, Italy comes “The app that brings the city to its greatest treasure.” It features detailed maps of social services available for the city’s children. Mission Rabies describes an ongoing campaign to vaccinate dogs in India against rabies, which, according to the Journal, costs the life of one Indian child every hour.

GIS: The Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity serves the immigrant community in Montgomery County, Maryland. Data Analysis for the Gilchrist Center presents a remarkably comprehensive atlas of the county’s diversity. Esri’s Liwei Fu has compiled a series of Story Map Journals examining the Ontario Mills shopping mall in Ontario, California. Among them: Leasing Space Based on Location; Brand Alliances; and Store Performance. Raphael Heath, head of geography at the Royal High School in Bath, England assembled a collection of videos, websites, and other multimedia content to into an Introduction to GIS for Students.

The most exciting and gratifying part of my work as head of Esri’s Story Maps team is discovering the rich variety of uses that our storytelling apps are being put to. I look forward to many pleasant surprises in the future. We all have stories to tell—some personal, others of real importance to society. I invite you to use our apps to tell your story. I can’t wait to see it.

Allen Carroll

About Allen Carroll

Allen Carroll is program manager, ArcGIS Online content and heads the Story Maps team. He came to Esri in late 2010 after 27 years at the National Geographic Society, where he told stories with maps in National Geographic magazine, in three editions of its Atlas of the World, and in countless wall maps and websites.
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