Knight Lab, produced by Northwestern University, is a community of designers, developers, students, and educators working on experiments designed to take journalism into new fields. The community creates an open, collaborative environment for interdisciplinary exploration and conversation where students and professionals learn together.
Almost all the tools this community produces allow you to create free, unique visuals by following three steps. At the same time, being user-friendly and suitable for crowdsourcing makes these tools indispensable. In this blog post, I will briefly introduce six different storytelling tools designed by Knight Lab.
An open-source tool called Timeline JS makes creating aesthetically appealing, dynamic timelines possible. Timeline JS also allows users to create visually rich and interactive timelines simply using Google spreadsheets. More than sixty languages are supported in Timeline JS, which is visited by millions of people worldwide. While maintaining Timeline JS’s essential functionality, users can construct unique installs using their JSON expertise. Users can use this tool for free without registering for any membership. It can be added to timelines by combining data in different formats such as text, video, images, and audio.
The Timeline JS tutorial is available here.
In a previous blog posts, Ahmet Yusuf prepared a guide for creating a story map using ArcGIS StoryMaps. StoryMaps JS is another tool for creating stories that have features similar to those of this tool. With this free tool, you can use the locations of a sequence of events to create stories online, and these stories highlighting the places of a series of events can be told on a web-based basis.
Transforming a subject into a visual narrative by locating it spatially adds a distinct dimension to research. So the use of this tool should expand substantially. At the same time, StoryMap JS enables visual concretization of some details that might otherwise remain opaque when only reading the sources. For this reason, open access and completely free tools such as StoryMap JS make research findings accessible to everyone.
The StoryMaps JS tutorial is available here.
Storyline JS is an open-source tool allowing users to create annotated, interactive line graphs. You can create a Storyline by adding more details about titles, context, sources, and credits. This tool works just like the others, via Google Spreadsheets. After you upload your data, you can create a timeline in just three steps.
The Storyline JS tutorial is available here.
Scene VR is an entertaining method to tell tales from a wholly different perspective. You can make original 360° narratives by converting your collection of panoramic and VR-ready photographs into a slideshow of narrator-friendly scenes. You may arrange your pictures, add text and descriptions, and edit them with their easy-to-use editor. With their user-friendly UI, your tales may then be embedded and seen anywhere. The best part is that SceneVR is browser-based. Your stories can be seen on desktops, mobile devices, and even the most widely used VR headsets without additional plugins or apps.
You can find further information here.
Using Juxtapose JS, storytellers may compare two pieces of similar material, such as images and GIFs. It’s perfect for emphasizing then/now tales that illustrate gradual changes over time (such as the development of a city’s skyline or reforestation), as well as before/after tales that demonstrate the effects of specific, spectacular occurrences (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.).
To view, the Juxtopose JS tutorial click here.
The tool SoundCite JS makes it incredibly easy for web publishers and authors to add inline audio to their stories. This tool was designed by a Knight Lab student fellow and Medill student, Tyler Fisher, with Medill assistant professor Jeremy Gilbert. SoundCite is also open-source and accessible via GitHub.
Please click here for further information.
As you can see, the Knight Lab team produces different tools for users to tell their stories in a variety of manners with a variety of features. The fact that these tools are user-friendly and open access makes them an important contribution to the development of digital humanities.
4 thoughts on “Knight Lab JS and Storytelling Tools”
These tools look fabulous. I’m looking forward to trying them out!
You write that you can use Timeline JS “without registering for any membership”, yet it seems like Timeline and several of the other tools require a Google account. Is there some other way to add the data?
To the best of my knowledge you need a Google account.