Supplemental thoughts on mapping

In this week’s assignment, we used Google Maps and uMapper to plot multiple points on an embeddable map project.

Both tools allow for some customization of basic things – plot points, colors, images, some HTML, etc. But the strength of Google Maps lies in the flexibility of the platform and the Application Programming Interface or API.

APIs are code structures that let bits of software talk to other bits of software. In this case, Google Maps can interact with any number of other Google apps or outside elements to produce automation, data visualization and deeper mapping experiences.

using google

Here’s a look at some fairly basic examples of Google maps with individual plot points and, in a couple cases, using Keyhole Markup Language, or KML feeds. These are geocoded coordinate sets that can be added in bulk to a map – a bit like an RSS feed for mapping.

  • Individual plotting – the Michelin Guide
  • Using a KML feed from Foursquare to map my checkins. This goes beyond silly games and meeting buddies if you use it strategically – checking in to assignments, following a multi-point story, etc.
  • You can also find these KML feeds in other mobile apps. In this case, I plotted points for my daily bike commute in an app called Bike Brain. How could you make use of this type of feature?

Google offers a tool called Forms in Docs that allows you to solicit answers to questions. This is a great app for getting user generated content in it’s own right. Have categories with map coordinates or addresses and you can create maps from the corresponding spreadsheet.

This dangerous intersections story is built around a map generated from user submissions using a form.

Beyond the simple

Those last two maps were created using Google’s Fusion Tables tool. It’s not horribly complex, but it does require some spreadsheet kung fu and a willingness to dig into coding a little deeper.

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Talking Timelines with Zach Wise

Due to a guest speaker’s schedule, we’ll be shifting up a bit from what may be on the syllabus or the schedule we may have discussed.

Zach Wise, an assistant professor at this fine institution, will be dropping by to chat about timelines. Or, more specifically, Timeline, the new Web tool he helped develop with the Knight News Innovation Lab and the Northwestern engineering school.

As reported on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog post:

The Lab — a joint effort between Medill and the engineering school at Northwestern University — has just released this new tool (named Timeline, directly enough) for quick timeline construction. No need for Ruby, Python, or anything more complicated than JavaScript; the material lives in JSON, which most low-level hackers can figure out a way to output from their data stores.

This is a fantastic development as the two real options for creating timelines quickly before were Flash – time-consuming and somewhat difficult – or using a few Web-based tools that bring with them a raft of issues. Zach, who most recently was an award-winning multimedia producer at the New York Times, will talk with us about the new tool and we’ll look at using it for the timeline assignment, which will be this week’s discussion point.

If we have time we may do some in-class work on using a couple of those timeline tools. I’m frankly not sure how easily we’ll be able to use Timeline for our purposes – Zach’s discussion may clear that up. So we likely will still produce the assignment using a few other tools.

We’ll also make some time later in class to look at your video assignments – due Monday at noon according to the assignment page – talk team site ideas and storyboarding. We’ll possibly also do a little chatting about using CSS in the Twenty Eleven theme in WordPress. Continue reading

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Supplemental lecture notes for week 2: The depressing slideshow agenda

First of all, I would like to apologize again for turning a perfectly lovely Monday evening into a miseryfest. What can I say, photojournalists must gravitate toward depressing stories when shooting audio slideshows. And that Chernobyl thing was merely coincidental.

Also, to clear up any confusion from what I mentioned at the start of class or what you may have seen in the syllabus, we will discuss the team assignment next week. You can take a look at the assignment here if you’re so inclined. Also, I’m thinking we do two teams this quarter, though if you guys want to set up your own groups now and keep ‘em to a nimble four people apiece, that’s fine. We can discuss next week.

And a word on deadlines. In general, story and assignment pitches will always be due at noon on Thursdays. The actual assignments will be due posted to your WordPress sites – and tweeted and and other requirements – by noon on Mondays.

For those of you who have problems or questions about your WordPress install – especially if you have hosting issues, didn’t use the Dreamhost install or any other related problems – I’ll likely be in the classroom by 5 the next few weeks. Feel free to come in if you can and we can work it out. Otherwise we can set up a one-on-one at my Sun-Times office or offsite. Continue reading

Number of Views:933

Supplemental class lecture notes from week 1

Not a lot to cover this week, though a reminder on expectations discussed going into week 2.

class tumblr

You will need to share at least one example of digital storytelling each week on the class Digital Storytelling Tumblr. What is eligible for inclusion here? It’s a pretty wide definition and the examples you find don’t need to be journalistic in nature per se – like the Take Away Show we watched Monday.

The key here is to look for work that goes beyond a basic written story. Video, photos, audio, animations, liveblogs, data visualizations, social media reports, tools, apps … all are potential postings. For the first few weeks of the quarter we’ll spend a bit of time in class discussing your submissions, so be prepared to talk about why what you turned in is good, bad or otherwise.

I’ll usually put up examples through the week to support the theme of that week’s discussion and assignment. Continue reading

Number of Views:822

Using CoverItLive to follow along with Brent D. Payne on SEO

For our SEO and social media discussion tonight, the BaldSEO, Brent D. Payne will be joining us. We’ll use the #MedillPayne hashtag to curate the live coverage exercise.
Below is the CoverItLive session we’ll be reporting into:

And I’ll post a Storify later of your efforts.

Number of Views:1120

Supplementary lecture notes and additional content following our week 6 class

As we hit the halfway point of the quarter, we’re pretty much caught up in the individual CMPs, though a bit off the original syllabus schedule. Subject to change indeed. Following is a recap of what should be in, what’s due next and what we’ll be working on Monday.

I’ll have your video and timeline assignments graded and input into Blackboard by the weekend, though earlier for those of you I’m meeting Friday.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard from very few of you in regard to setting up the one-on-one sessions. Please start signing up for appointments sooner than later – the time will be gone before you know it. Continue reading

Number of Views:2062