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Web Assignment #1, Or Where Have You Guys Been?

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I was shocked to discover that there have been no web assignments submitted so far. I’m pretty sure they count for the submit-assignments assignment for the second half of the semester — and I’m gonna be mad if it doesn’t! — so I decided to get us started. My idea was to tell a story using Google Maps.

This isn’t an original idea; I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere. I initially got the basic idea from seeing words spelled out using beacons and lines in google maps in the midst of some story in Zach Whalen’s Electronic Lit class last fall. (This is at least the second time something we looked at in that class has inspired me to do something else for this class!) Unfortunately, I can’t find that specific example, or really any examples of this exact sort of storytelling. The only thing I can find is this much fancier version, which I have not seen before — so there’s something else out there that either inspired those guys, or was inspired by it that I saw. If you can find similar early examples, please post them and I’ll credit them. (Jim Groom has done related, but different, stuff with google maps before.)

Anyway, as to how you actually do this, for those who want to do this on their own: Simply go to and click on “My Maps,” followed by “Create new map.” You can now move around, place waypoints and draw lines, describe the story, and so on. To link others to the story, center the screen around where you want the story to begin, and click on the ‘link’ link on the right hand side of the page, and get the url. (“Submit-assignments assignment, ‘link’ link…I hate to be so repetitive, but sometimes it’s necessary.) The Google Maps interface is actually a bit clunky and frustrating at first, as it was clearly not designed as a storytelling tool. But with a little practice, you can sketch out a rough story.

I was initially planning to do the story of a family trip across country, but when I realized that even I was bored by that, it wasn’t likely anyone else would be interested. So instead I made a story of a ds106 student who is kidnapped right after class. The lines are just named as times, so you can follow where the action is going; the waypoints also have times as their titles, but have text in them. This text is in the form of tweets because a) Those are short too, b) I thought, ‘Hey, why not,’ and c) it let me be someone fairly obnoxious that I wouldn’t be sad about putting through tragic treatment.

Here’s the story! To navigate it, just follow the lines and click on the next waypoint/bubble. Let me know what you think, and submit your own if you have the time! (There’s a moral to this story, after all…)

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