I’ve been experimenting with maps for storytelling, newsgathering and information for quite some time, aiming to best utilise the specific attributes of different available platforms.
For a few examples; I like the simplicity of using google maps to display information such as this map of northern food bloggers’ locations. The utter ease of reasonably large spreadsheet visualisation using fusion tables for this and the live data element of Zeemaps proved useful with this.
But the issue of involving the reader to crowdsource the map’s content always proves a bit trickier – I loved the possibilities the Leeds Cutswatch map offered using Usahidi for instance, but the backend management and integration it required probably put it out of reach for smaller operators such as bloggers and hyperlocals to replicate.
This weekend I’ve played around with the crowdsourcing mapping capabilities of n0tice.com. (Disclosure; this is a platform which I’m part of the team working on.)
The Guardian Travel website used this very effectively this weekend to crowdsource readers events and tips – basically the EasterWeekend.n0tice.com noticeboard feeds automatically onto the Travel website and a few design tweaks on their pages means everything appears in the Guardian’s house style for icons etc.
Inspired by this I came up with this simple hack to display the events of a noticeboard I run for The Northerner blog. Bearing in mind I know no code……it was a simple rehash of the embed code for the Travel one but now anyone who wants to add an event or news story from the north of England to this map simply log into n0tice.com and visit the northerner.n0tice.com board. What do you think?
Fun to play around with yes, but there’s a few considerations for any publisher, whether you’re a blogger like myself or a mainstream news organisation, to take into account when crowdsourcing material like this so tools have been built into the n0tice.com backend;
- live updating. Be able to automate the display of data entered – from form to feed.
- moderate submissions. Ability to control exactly what content remains on a noticeboard (and therefore the map).
- measure the map’s effectiveness, or otherwise, with standard metrics eg. Page views, most viewed etc.
- promote. Easily integrate into the publishers established platforms such as blogs, twitter, facebook etc.
Soon the n0tice.com api will be available to any publishers small or large (sign up here if you are interested) so I’m hoping what I’ve fiddled around with here to demonstrate The Northerner might prompt some far greater ideas for where this particular open journalism adventure could lead.