Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Georgetown, Seattle startup accents mapped, crowd-sourced story lines

by June 29th, 2011

I’ve been using Intersect since last summer to tell stories, personal and professional. It’s a Web and social media start-up company with offices located in the McKinstry Innovation Center south of downtown Seattle where the SoDo district begins to meet the Georgetown neighborhood, home to a piquant farmers market and some serious outdoor sculpture. Using an embed tool the site offers users, here’s a map – at bottom – of my Intersect stories. Once you open an account and add some stories, you can use easy navigation tools to pull up your map and then if you want, zoom in to, say, a continent, and get embed code of your mapped and linked stories for just that swath. Or your whole map of stories, as I’ve done below.

If you’re exploring someone’s story map on Intersect, or your own, approximate stabs at geography lead to incredibly specific geographic drill-downs. Follow prompts – by clicking on “six stories at this intersection,” or “84 stories at this intersection” etc. – then double-click on a story photo icon to survey a contributor’s stories mapped literally at neighborhood street level. Single-click on a given story photo icon to enter the story. Make sure to use the navigation arrows to explore a contributor’s full map of stories across the globe.

A simple place and time search tool on the main page is another handy tool. Seattle, June 2011? Here’s what you get. London 2010? Texas 2010? Once signed up and signed in (it’s free) – the situational zeitgeist has some collective oomph. Play around a bit and you’ll see.

Intersect’s story-mapping is really an intuitive and engaging use of graphic tools to accent blogged and micro-blogged content and photography, with a potentially big crowd-sourcing function layered in as well. Themed story collections are another prominent feature, one well-suited to use by news organizations and others, as Intersect founder and feature writing Pulitzer Prize-winner Peter Rinearson shows in a recent piece at Neiman Reports, published by the Neiman Foundation For Journalism at Harvard University.

A compendium of commonly adopted keywords for searching major story lines would be a welcome addition, given the current, generally sui generis subject-tagging protocol; special, promoted story themes aside.

Intersect is still figuring out how it will become financially sustainable. In the meantime, consider whether it would be a useful tool for your storytelling or that an employer, non-profit organization, or friend you know.

(Disclosure: I am not now and have never been compensated by Intersect, nor do I have any ownership stake. Just a user; fan; and a friend of Mr. Rinearson. My son is an unpaid intern there this summer).

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