Story Maps

I’m doing a little research on the use of Story Maps, and finding so much great stuff I need a place to document it….

Background

I was introduced to GIS about four years ago, and it changed how I feel we can study and deliver history. I’ve been dabbling in it, slowly learning more and producing a few things. Mostly, I have been teaching others about it — I call myself an expert on entry GIS and introducing its power to others.

Why GIS?

GIS and Story Maps are amazing tools that let us see content and data in new ways. I really can’t write it any better than Allan Carroll, the ESRI Story Maps guru who defines digital humanities as:

  • The creative application of digital technology to humanities questions and data.
  • The use of computational techniques in the humanities that would allow research that is otherwise impossible.
  • The democratization of knowledge through the application of digital technologies to the advancement of discourse in the humanities, broadly defined (and not restricted to the academy!).

 and  make a very compelling argument for Story Maps:

What digital mapping tools like Google Maps or Citymapper generally don’t tell us is how a certain street got its name, or what issues are of critical cultural importance to a community.

But “story maps” – an interactive form of drawing the world around us and an increasingly popular form of mapping – can do all this and more.

This is why I have been doing so many presentations and sessions about Story Maps. I am grateful to have yet another set of good quotes to use when I talk about it.

In my words:

  • Story Maps and GIS completely changes how we can study history. So much of history has a spatial component. Maps have always been used to teach and study history, but using the GIS tools available, we can interpret the data in ways we never could before.
  • GIS visualizes patterns and relationships that let us see something in a quick glance or closer look that would’ve taken much longer in print. For example, I recently showed a group of teachers the two maps of where Japanese Americans lived in 1940 and 1945. Nothing could have gotten the point across about the impact of the internment camps faster than those two maps. It’s one thing to read a sentence about this in a book; it’s quite another to see it on the maps.
  • GIS enables analysis of data. If you have the right kind of data (for example, the location of shipwrecks in Lake Superior), simple — yet powerful — geoanalysis tools can show a variety of different ways of looking at the data.
  • Story Maps bring content to a broader audience. Instead of just a paper that a professor reads, Story Maps and GIS tools can deliver content to others.
  • Context: Story Maps allow us to provide context, story, background and additional information about a map.

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