Analyzing StoryMapJS

The StoryMapJS digital mapping tool allows the user to either have a section of a map or a still image and then choose points to add commentary or more information. This mapping tool is different from other mapping tools because it allows you to map a still image. Other mapping tools only allow mapping of geographic maps. This tool can be helpful for pointing out historic locations on a map or when using still images highlight important points. In my project looking at historical architecture it can be used in a variety of ways. I can use it to explore before and after images, showing two images and pointing out how things have changed. Or I can just use it to point out architecture features and add a commentary about the reasons for them.  This tool has good user experience design in mind because it does not make people have to scroll across the map, it just jumps from point to significant point, and it lets the viewer see the big picture in the beginning.

This tool is free to use which makes it accessible to anyone with access to the internet. To use this tool the user just has to either choose a location or upload an image. In order for it to be used the user has to upload all of the information that they want displayed, the tool just organizes the information into a map. The site for the tool does not give information on the privacy or who owns the data that is input. The about page of the site does not list when the code for the tool is updated but they have people currently working on it at Knight Lab, so it could be assumed that it is kept pretty up to date. It also gives information about what code to change if you want it to appear in different ways. StorymapJS does not have much bias in the way it allows for any information to be added making it pretty accessible. This tool is not very tricky to figure out, although it does go faster with someone there to show how it is done.

I can definitely use this tool in my Digital Humanities project because it will allow me to annotate photos I take of the different buildings on campus as mentioned previously. I also think that this tool embodies a lot of the Digital Humanities core values, one of them being its openness. This tool is free to use, which gives a lot more access versus a tool that needs a subscription to or one that needs to be paid for, like WordPress. It is also relatively simply to use which makes it accessible to people who are just starting out in Digital Humanities. It does not allow for much experimentation because it is set up in a pretty straightforward way that cannot be changed. Another core value of Digital Humanities is diversity and while it is hard for a digital tool to be diverse it is still important for the creators to be diverse and when taking a look at who helped to create StoryMapJS at the Knight Lab it is both racially diverse and diverse in its inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students.

One Reply to “Analyzing StoryMapJS”

  1. Great! Thanks for thinking about aspects of diversity in how tools are created. You can also see when it was updated by going to the code hosted on GitHub – GitHub is a place where code can be stored, shared, and updated by the larger community of developers, and you can see when it’s been updated and by who and how it was changed. It’s one of those places where openness is valued (but it is owned by Microsoft …). And since the tool itself requires a Google login, Google is getting some of your data … Anyway, lots of DH people use GitHub not just for code, but also for storing different versions of data, text, etc. It’s important to remember that just because something is free, someone is usually getting payment for it in some way (usually with your data).

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