StoryMap: LA to Chapman on the 405—A McDilemma

(If the map doesn’t load, click here)

One of my favorite features about StoryMaps is the ability to allow a cohesive and organized narrative over a map. While I imagine that most traditional maps are made to utilize their aesthetics to imply a narrative, the interactive element of StoryMaps gives a more distinct definition of aesthetics and their role in the map-making and meaning-making process. I really enjoyed narrating the maps so I could guide the viewer on my own little tour of this specific journey to look at specific sites. I was able to inject my voice, sense of humor, thoughts, and more while maintaining an easy interface for the audience. I cannot imagine other digital storytelling platforms to have that involvement with a simple map, let alone physical maps as well.

Likewise, StoryMaps’ design itself is also very intuitive and organized, leaving less room for confusion (even though I did get a little lost in the specifics) than other interactive digital storytelling platforms. I would definitely say that the flexibility of the maps, which of course depend on the map and designated points being used, is the StoryMaps’ best feature. It maintains the structure of a WordPress site while also not being so open-ended as if the user is coding on the spot. As compared to the user interface of the Vector’s journal project called, The Stolen Time Archive by Alice Gambrell, I could easily navigate and understand the meaning of my own StoryMap due to its design. While The Stolen Time Archive has some fun doodling feature to open the application, I am thankful it was arbitrary somewhat arbitrary to the actual archive since I frankly could not manage to use it correctly. I do understand that the tracing within The Stolen Time Archive is used to introduce the user to its concepts and artifacts regarding design and handwriting.

Back to StoryMaps, one major flaw I noticed regards the work it takes to input values and images for certain points. While I had originally plotted out points within my ArcGis map, the StoryMap required me to re-input the physical addresses as tabs despite having all the necessary data on a spreadsheet. I simply could not figure it out. I also struggled with finding an efficient way to input these values manually. Maybe it was due to the particular theme I had chosen, but it grew more and more tedious as I found more and more places to input data. On a large scale project with many points and pieces of data, organizing a StoryMap would be unnecessarily gruesome.

Other than that complaint, it was a blast narrating my journey! I even had some creative writing fun on one of the points. 🙂