Inspired by the stories of war veterans in the United States, Google has launched a storytelling tool ‘Tour Builder’ in beta on Google Earth. It helps people narrate their stories by linking pictures, and videos to the map location of the places they were taken at.
The original idea behind Tour Builder was to give people working in the military an easy way to digitally preserve memories from all the places their service takes them to, so that they could share them with their family and friends. However, this tool could be used by anyone for telling their story to the world.
In order to use Tour Builder one needs to have Google Earth plugin installed in their computer system. To create a story, the users need to search the map for the starting point of their story and drop a placemark, then they could go ahead with adding more places and describing each milestone with text and digital content.
The storylines could follow either of the three different formats – Linear, Hub, and Disabled. These control how the lines between the placemarks are drawn, and in turn how the story will progress. Linear is for creating a linear storyline. In the Hub mode, a central placemark could be placed with lines spiraling out and to surrounding placemarks, whereas Disabled removes the lines between placemarks entirely for stories that are not tied to a particular timeline.
Each story created is private by default and could be shared with family, friends and even the public.
Google has put up some featured tours in the gallery of Tour Builder, to provide story examples to users and inspire people to create their own.
The concept of storytelling using maps isn’t exactly new, there are websites and softwares like ArcGIS and Esri which offer features similar to Tour Builder. But with Google working on this initiative, the idea might charm more people.
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