Introduction: Story Map Journal

Picture of Story Map Journal

All of us have a story to tell or an adventure to share with those around us. Story Map Journals allow us to do just that, digitally! The software company, ESRI, has created a platform that allows users to share their adventures with user-created, interactive maps, photos, audio recordings, video recordings, artwork, animation and text, all of which are contained within a Story Map Journal that resides in cyberspace.

There is a great tutorial on how to create a Story Map Journal as well as other tutorials for publishing photos and videos, so no need for me to try to duplicate those efforts here.

This instructable is designed to:

1. Introduce you to the idea of using a Story Map Journal to share your story or adventure.

2. Provide a basic workflow on what is needed to create a Story Map Journal using freely available websites that host, store and provide content to others at no cost.

3. Provide links to necessary and optional websites.

4. Share tips and advice you may wish to consider as you build your Story Map Journal

5. Provide a link to a simple Story Map Journal that I have created to provide an example of how a Story Map can be used to share an adventure.

Step 1: Websites

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There are a few websites that are needed to create a Story Map Journal. These websites require an account and make it possible for account holders to create a Story Map Journal, just as the Instructables website allows account holders to publish step-by-step tutorials on making things.

I am not an employee of any company whose websites are referenced in this tutorial, nor do I derive any form of compensation or reward from anyone. I am simply sharing information that you might find useful.

The accounts are free and allow users to create content for Story Map Journals. Greater functionality and added tools are available for those who may want to upgrade to a paid subscription, but it is not necessary.

Viewers of Story Map Journals do not need to have an account. No programming skills are needed, just basic familiarity with using online webtools.

At a minimum two accounts are needed:


1. An account with ArcGIS Online.
https://arcgis.com
This is the website where you will create a Story Map Journal.

2. You will also need a website to store images. I use Picasa Web found at: https://picasaweb.google.com

If you want to include videos into your Story Map Journal then you will need an account with YouTube or another similar video hosting website. YouTube is found at: https://youtube.com

If you want to add narration or any audio recordings then you need an account with a website such as Chirbit which is found at: https://chirbit.com

Step 2: Maps

Picture of Maps

Interactive maps are what sets Story Map Journals far apart from other forms of social media such as blogs in that the maps are dynamic, allowing viewers to:

1. Zoom in or out of the map.
2. Scroll or pan to different parts of the map.
3. View the legend or see the overview of the map.

Layers are features of interest that you want to share as part of your story. These features can be:
1. Lines showing, for example, the route you took through the mountains.
2. Points showing, for example, places that you visited.
3. Polygons or areas showing, for example, fields of blooming flowers that you saw and photographed.

Layers can also be maps, charts, etc that have been created by others.


Features can be created in free programs such as Google Earth or QGIS and also with subscriptions to ArcMap. Once features are created they can then imported into ArcGIS online.

Start by visiting https://arcgis.com
and take the tutorial on how to make a map, then make your own simple map or two that shows where you've been and what you've done.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to share your maps so that they are available for public (global) viewing thereby enabling the Story Map Journal to display your maps for others to see. If you don't share the maps publicly, then the maps won't load and your viewers will only see a grey screen.

Step 3: Photos

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Assemble all of the photos that you want to use to share your story and upload them to a photo-hosting website, such as Google Photos.
Make any enhancements such as crops, rotations, brightness/contrast adjustments, labeling, or any other technique that you want to use and then save the photos.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to share your photos so that they are available for public (global) viewing thereby enabling the Story Map Journal to display your photos for others to see*. If you don't share the photos publicly, then the photos won't load and your viewers will only see a grey screen.

*Please be aware that once you share your photos with the public, they become freely available across the internet and anyone may find them, download them, alter them, etc. Be sure not to add any labels, names or information to the photos that you don't want others to have.

You are not limited to using just your own photos but can use any photo that you find on the internet that has been publicly shared. Be sure to provide credit to the owner, if known.

Step 4: Videos

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If you want to include videos in your Story Map Journal then you will need to set up an account with a website such as YouTube. Put your video together, make any needed edits and then upload to YouTube at: https://youtube.com


IMPORTANT: Be sure to share your videos so that they are available for public (global) viewing thereby enabling the Story Map Journal to display your video for others to see*. If you don't share the videos publicly, then the videos won't load or play.

*Please be aware that once you share your videos with the public, they become freely available across the internet and anyone may find them, download them, alter them, etc. Be sure not to add any labels or information to the videos that you don't want others to have.

Step 5: Audio Recording

Picture of Audio Recording

If you want to include narration or bird songs or ringing church bells in your Story Map Journal then you will need to set up an account with a website such as Chirbit. Put your audio recording together, make any needed edits and then upload to Chirbit at: https://chirbit.com


IMPORTANT: Be sure to share your audio recordings so that they are available for public (global) listening thereby enabling the Story Map Journal to play your audio recording for others to hear*. If you don't share the audio recordings publicly, then they won't load or play.

*Please be aware that once you share your audio recordings with the public, they become freely available across the internet and anyone may find them, download them, alter them, etc. Be sure not to add any labels or information to the audio recordings that you don't want others to have.

Step 6: Text

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The Story Map Journal has a text editor allowing you to type in all of the details of your story. It is just as easy to type up your story in a word processing program such as Google Docs or Word and then copy the text and paste it into your Story Map Journal.

Within the Story Map Journal app, you can link words or sentences to activate and bring up images, charts, audio and video recordings or move the map to a new location or scale.

You can also link words or sentences to bring your viewer to another website for more information. I try to minimize my use of linking to another website as I like my guests to fully explore the Story Map Journal and not follow a link to another site when they are only partway through my Story Map Journal. However, for illustration purposes I will include a link in my demonstration Story Map Journal that will take you to another website.

Step 7: Assembling Your Story Map Journal

Picture of Assembling Your Story Map Journal

Now that you have created and edited to final form all of your layers, maps, photos, audio and video recordings and text - it's time to upload your content to the appropriate websites. Once uploaded AND publicly shared, it's time to create your Story Map Journal!

Go to: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/map-journal/

Take the tutorial and learn to build a Story Map Journal. Take time to see other examples of Story Map Journals as a fun and interesting source of inspiration for your own Story Map Journal.

Browse through the different Story Map Journal templates, select one and create your Story Map Journal!

Step 8: Content Considerations

Picture of Content Considerations

Story Map Journals are great for providing a lot of interesting content in a variety of formats. The format of the Story Map Journal, itself, is such that viewers of your story can take in as much or as little of the content as they wish. It is fun to load your Story Map Journal with all kinds of varied and interesting content that provides your viewers with a customized experience as you take them along with you as you relive your adventure.

However, as with anything related to digital content, the more information you have, the bigger the file size will be and the longer it will take to upload, download and access (view) that information.

Story Map Journals are viewed well on a variety of digital media devices such as computers, e-readers and tablets, but not so well on mobile phones, in my experience.

Once you have created your Story Map Journal, it is easy to update it at any time. Your changes are made in real time and your viewers will always see the most recently updated version.

The Story Map Journal application is open source so those with programming skills have the option to enhance the application for even greater customization.

Step 9: Final Link

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I hope that the information I have shared with you has inspired you to make your own Story Map Journal as it is a great way to share your stories and adventures, digitally, in an engaging way with interactive maps, photos, audio and video recordings, animation, artwork and more.

And as promised, here is a link, below, to a Story Map Journal that I put together about a trip I made with a friend. My Story Map Journal, entitled "Journey to Dogo Onsen", is a very basic one with just enough features to demonstrate the functionality of the application. Be sure to check out the gallery of Story Map Journals to see the amazing things others have done to tell their story.

"Journey to Dogo Onsen"

http://arcg.is/1WkFq8L

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