We are pleased to announce the beta launch of GeoStories.com, a social story-mapping platform that enables users to create personal narratives around the places they’ve been and the experiences they’ve had there.
GeoStories is about connecting—and contextualizing—our many remarkable moments and memories. The site’s simple, streamlined interface allows users to pair their personal thoughts with meaningful images or videos pulled from the media site(s) of their preference (Picasa, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), almost instantly transforming the ubiquitous digital map into a personal memoir, descriptive genealogy, historical non-fiction, or lighthearted travel journal. The GeoStories Introductory Video gives a colorful and concise overview of the process. It should also be noted that much of the information included here is available at the GeoStories FAQ page.
- How It Works
Each geostory is built of chapters; each chapter represents a different location; and each location can be detailed with personal thoughts and narrative text, as well as imagery or video.
As each chapter is completed, you’ll see a numbered icon representing the chapter appear in the GeoStories map display. Clicking on the icon will reveal the full, multimedia description of your experience.
Once all the desired number of chapters has been written, and the user hits the I’m Done button, the map display zooms out to reveal all chapter icons, numbered and linked—a narrative constellation of your own making, ready to be explored and shared.
- The Team
GeoStories is a start-up funded by E.Y. Ventures and founded by Uyen Ngo and Andrew Pogany. As Chief Experience Officer, Ngo has dedicated her considerable expertise to the design and programming of the entire GeoStories site. She also created the awesome Introduction video. As Senior Story Teller, Pogany has contributed to the site’s concept and content.
- Key Functions
1. User-Generated Map: GeoStories is ultimately a tool by which users can quickly become authors of personalized, multimedia, map-based narratives. Fundamental to this function is the use of the Google Maps API, as well as the Google geocoder, which enables a non-specific location entered in the Address input to be almost instantly translated into latlong coordinates and mapped.
2. Media Upload: Popular online media management sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Picasa, and Vimeo provide image and video links for content owned by the user or deemed available for public use. Presently, GeoStories users must copy and paste the appropriate image or video link into the Pictures/Video input on the Story Board. They also have the option of including the embed codes of images and videos in the Description input.
3. Connecting The Dots: GeoStories does not present individual locations as separate entities of no (explicit) relation. Its Story Board interface allows for users to attach text and media to specific locations, and then connects those locations using numbered icons and lines, thereby guiding the reader to consider each location, or chapter, as part of a larger sustained narrative.
- Notable Challenges
1. Interface Design: Coding of the input page was moderately complex, especially when trying to figure out how to add imagery or video to the same pop-up window as the text included in the description box. Also, understanding how to connect map icons with a visible line required assistance.
- Future Improvements
1. Saving Drafts: The GeoStories team will be looking for a solution that will allow for the saving and editing of incomplete stories.
2. Library Upgrade: Every story, once completed and fully mapped, should automatically be saved to the GeoStories library. The GeoStories team will look to allow story authors to obtain links for each of their stories, or share directly through the social network of their choosing.
3. Additional APIs: GeoStories presently incorporates the Google Maps API. Future manifestations of the site will potentially incorporate the APIs of various online media management sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Picasa, and others to facilitate enhanced uploading capabilities. Additionally, GeoStories will look to potentially incorporate the APIs of relevant social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to enable sharing.