The ArcGIS Story Maps apps (from ESRI) offer a dynamic set of mixed-media presentation forms that represent the best in intuitive usability and serve as an antidote for cartophilic creators previously deflated by the labyrinthine complexity of professional-grade GIS software.

(like this … phew!)

complicated GIS interfact

Just consider July 2017’s Story Map of the Month: Washington’s Ice Age Floods.

It’s about as geo-mathematical as a National Geographic centerfold.

Which may make it an ideal candidate for that ever-elusive, so seemingly simple, and yet so oft-unreachable, answer to two decades of prayers:

. . . a substitute for Microsoft Powerpoint.

Remember how excited you were to discover Prezi and then what you thought would be a laminar waltz of image, symbol, and sound was just an incoherent lurching and jerking that would have you — and your audience — retching? (What has come to be called, even on prezi.com and by a prezi expert at Preziday as “prezilepsy” and “death by prezi” (they used prezis to grapple with this problem).)

Here’s where Story Maps sans maps comes in (or leave the maps in there, up to you, the point is that it’s optional).

There are 11 Story Maps apps to choose from, but I’d like to draw your attention to Story Map Cascade, a down-flowing parallax bonanza, and Story Map Journal and Story Map Series. The interfaces for these apps, rather than being iterations of different embellishments to basemaps exclusively, instead provide a “Main Stage” which can contain maps, but could also be an image, video, or web site, which can then be annotated and embellished. These Story “Maps” apps transform (in the Shia Lebeouf/Steven Spielberg kind of way) ArcGIS from a purely cartographic tool into a raconteur’s swiss-army-knife.

They offer a guide to creating Story Maps, tips for effective storytelling, and a community forum.

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