Join our global community of mapstorytellers!
MapStory.org is the free atlas of change that everyone can edit. We are a community, not a company, working to organize humanity’s shared knowledge about how the world evolves geographically over time, and to make this knowledge easily accessible as an open educational resource. Our work is sustained by the nonprofit MapStory Foundation and dedicated volunteers and sponsors. Join us!
Depending on your skills and interests, you can contribute to MapStory by: importing data and creating StoryLayers, by editing StoryLayers to make them more complete and accurate, or by composing MapStories that use StoryLayers and other media (like text, videos and images) to explain how and why geographic change occurs in the world. In the videos below, we walk you through all of these tasks. If you have any questions, hit the Feedback button at the bottom of your screen or go to wiki.mapstory.org for more information.
How to Explore
You don’t need an account to start exploring content shared in MapStory. Simply hit the “Explore” button at the top of your page or use the link below. You will be able to search for StoryLayers, MapStories, and the Storytellers who created them. Filters will help you refine your search based on the topics, time periods and parts of the world that interest you most!
How to Compose a MapStory
If you can write a Tweet or share a photo on Facebook, then you can compose a MapStory. To get started, log in and click Compose MapStory from the Create tab above. As human beings, we all experience the world differently. MapStories help us share these experiences while also rooting them in data drawn from StoryLayers. For more help composing a MapStory, click the link below to access the guide located on the MapStory Wiki.
How to Import StoryLayer data
StoryLayers are datasets that have attributes for Latitude, Longitude and Time. StoryLayers can cover global topics, such as the spread of Starbucks stores worldwide, or local ones, like every building built in a town. StoryLayers open for community editing can be edited for completeness and accuracy by any registered Storyteller. To create a StoryLayer by importing data, use the Import StoryLayer link in the Create tab above. Currently, MapStory.org accepts data imports in .CSV or .SHP formats. For more help importing StoryLayer data, click the link below to access the guide located on the MapStory Wiki.
How to Create a StoryLayer without Importing Data
If you don’t have data to import, you can still create a new StoryLayer and then start adding features to it using the community editing functionality. To create a new StoryLayer, click Create StoryLayer under the Create tab at the top of your screen.
How to Review a StoryLayer
Help make StoryLayers better by giving them a review. A one star rating means the StoryLayer is extremely inaccurate and incomplete. A five star rating means its extremely accurate and complete. If you see a StoryLayer that is broken or inappropriate and in need of review by an administrator, flag it. Finally, you can share your feedback publicly by adding a threaded comment to the StoryLayer, or privately by sending the StoryLayer owner a direct message.
How to Edit a StoryLayer
Help make StoryLayers more complete and accurate by editing them. To edit a StoryLayer, simply click on the StoryLayer, and then click Edit Features. As you add, modify or delete features in the StoryLayer, your changes will be tracked. If a dispute ever arises over edits, a MapStory Administrator will step in to resolve it.
How to Help Others
Once you feel comfortable importing data, editing StoryLayers and composing MapStories, consider helping others by joining the Volunteer Technical Community (VTC). The VTC is simply a subset of storytellers that checks a box on their Profile indicating their willingness to help others. A storyteller with a question can then search for storytellers that are part of the VTC and send a message with their question.
Crowdsource with MapStory
Do you have a project idea that you know you’ll never be able to complete by yourself? Perhaps you want to map the history of your entire town, or the spread of an entire disease instance, or the gerrymandering of Congressional districts in a state. With MapStory, you can harness the power of the crowd to accomplish big projects by launching a “Community Initiative”. The MapStory Foundation provides Community Initiatives with their own home page. From there Initiative Organizers can manage the StoryLayers, MapStories and Storytellers that contribute to the Community Initiative until it is complete!
Launch an Organization Page
If you run a company, museum, academic institution, or some other type of organization with access to historical geographic data, we invite you to launch your own Organization Page. An Organization Page is similar to an individual account, except it offers a simple branded URL and the ability to pool the StoryLayers, MapStories and Storyteller profiles of a community of users into one place. In effect, it becomes the portfolio for you to share the your organization’s knowledge about how the world changes over time. Watch the video to hear why James Scrivener, CEO of National Solar Power, shares on MapStory.org, and click the link below to initiate your own Organization Page.
Teach with MapStory
History and geography are about much more than memorizing places, time periods and events. Understanding how, why and where our world changes over time is the lens through which we can understand everything! We hope MapStory can help bring these subjects alive by turning students into knowledge creators. Students can use MapStory to conduct original research as part of an independent study or service-learning project, engage in critical thinking about the work of others, and compose MapStories that stretch their interpretative and analytical skills. Check out the video to hear about Deborah Berry’s experience running a youth summer program based on MapStory.
Report with MapStory
Journalists help us understand what happens where and when, and maps have historically been a great tool for journalists. In digital publications, interactive and animated maps can help readers gain more perspective than static print maps ever could. But unfortunately the cost and complexity of many digital mapping tools makes them out of reach for many newsrooms, especially those with low budgets working at the grassroots where stories actually happen. MapStory hopes to make it much easier for journalists to embed MapStories made by others, or to compose them themselves with little money or prior knowledge required.
Use MapStory to Transform Libraries
The Aspen Institute argues that, “The emerging value proposition of the public library is built around three key assets—people, place and platform—and the ability to scale in a world of knowledge and social networks.” We agree! MapStory provides librarians with an open source platform through which they can contribute key knowledge about geographic change, and, most importantly, engage their patrons in the process of creating and sharing that knowledge.
Use MapStory for Humanitarian Relief
In order to more good than harm, relief and development workers need good data about the places they operate within. If you are digging bore holes or building schools, for example, you better have some understanding about history – when and where have these things been built before? By whom? Were they successful? Are they still operating? StoryLayers can provide a quick visual of what is where, while MapStories can provide deeper analysis to explain why and how change occurs in a place. Make contributing to the atlas of change part of your relief and development work agenda!