I’ve been hard at work with my independent project for Digital Public History exploring the complicated and frustrating realm of Storymaps. It’s been super hair-pullingly frustrating because I can’t seem to figure out how to get it to do what I want it to do! Originally, I didn’t think I’d run into this many problems. For one thing, the Storymaps policy for videos are quite limiting. What I’m trying to map deals a lot with videos of oral history interviews with Holocaust survivors. These interviews are all found on the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) website, and have their own restrictions. For one thing, you are able to download some of them, but not all. However, this is not what’s frustrating. What’s frustrating is that I’m not able to insert those videos on my Storymap. The Storymap video policy/guidelines/restrictions are that the videos have to either come from Youtube, or Vimeo, neither of which mine come from. There is also an option to embed the video in your story map, but after (what seemed like) hours of researching, watching videos and asking my data scientist boyfriend, I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video, or even get the video code in right. I kept running into errors and I eventually, just gave up.
That’s when I sent an email to Liz Sutherland.
Unfortunately, Liz wasn’t really able to help me in this situation. She offered quite a few really good alternatives to the problem I was facing. One solution was to link the video in the info box itself. However, I’m still debating on whether or not I want to do this because I don’t want viewers to constantly be clicking out of the storymap! Another option was to find similar videos on Youtube. But, again, most of these oral history interviews were conducted by USHMM, and 99% of them didn’t make it onto Youtube. Currently I’m at a standstill.
Without the videos, the storymap itself is not as impactful as I would’ve liked it to be. It’s one thing to read about the struggles of the Hidden Children, but another thing to be able to hear the testimonies of the survivors. It seems that I might just have to link the USHMM link in the map itself. This might be the only solution.
This is one of the things that I really don’t like about Storymaps. Storymaps allows the user to do so much and to educate on so many levels. However, the video part of Storymaps is lacking. Hopefully, in the future, something like this can be fixed. Perhaps, the option to upload downloaded videos, or videos on a website other than Vimeo or Youtube. I think with this improvement, the projects on Storymaps can benefit more and make it more interactive. This way, sights and sounds are combined with interactivity to create an educational and meaningful learning map.
Stay tuned next week to read about how far I’ve done with this project. Other than that, the future is still bright.