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Tell your life story with Google Maps

Updated on August 11, 2014
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Maps for Storytelling

Google Maps can be customised for a range of uses. You've probably seen them on Hubs giving locations of venues and marking travel routes.

They can also be used to tell stories. I have travelled a lot and lived in several countries. With Google Maps I can easily create a stylish visualisation which shows the extent of my travels at a glance and allows viewers to explore and gain further details on where I've been and what I've done.

Even if you haven't travelled so widely you can produce a map of a smaller area. It's great for blogs and social networks and can also be useful for job applications. It might not replace a CV but it offers a dynamic and attractive presentation of information which would otherwise take up pages of writing that few would care to read. It is sure to impress employers who are looking for skills in IT, Digital Media and Creativity.



Creating a Map

Take a look at my map. If you click on the pins you will get more information about the place and what I did there. Some pins have photos and links to relevant material online.

There are actually three maps. One shows my work, another my education and the third my hobbies, interests and cultural activities. Each of these is on a separate layer with a different colour pin. If you look at the panel to the left you'll see there's a tick box next to Work. If you untick it that layer is hidden and all the red pins disappear. This means that someone who's interested in my education, for example, can hide the other pins and see this information more clearly.

The free version allows a maximum of three layers but that is plenty to get started with.

  1. Before you start creating your map think about the places you want to include and why. Make lists in up to three different categories. Think how you can illustrate them to make the map more dynamic. Do you have photos or videos? Have you written blogs or Hubs connected to the place that you can link to.
  2. Before you can create a map you will need a Google account. Set one up if necessary and make sure you are logged in.
  3. Go to Google Maps. In the bottom righthand corner click on the tasks icon and click on My Places. On the next page click on the red Create Map button.

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3. You will be get a blank map with a white box in the top lefthand corner. Click where it says Untitled Map. You will then be able to enter a title and description of the map.

4. By default maps come with one layer named untitled layer. Click on the layer where it is listed beneath the title and enter the name of your first layer.

5. You can now use the search bar to find the location of your first pin. It will indicate it with a green pin. If you click on this a box appears with an option to add it to the map.

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6. The green pin will be replaced with a red one. Click on this pin and another box comes up. Clicking on the small crayon icon in the bottom righthand corner allows you to edit the title of the pin and add additional information. By clicking the camera icon you can add photos or video. When you have finished click save.

7. Repeat these steps for all the other locations on your first layer. As you add pins they will be listed along with their titles under the layer title in the top lefthand corner. If you click on a pin in this key it will be highlighted on the map.

8. When you are ready to start the second layer click the Add Layer button underneath the map title. A new layer will be listed and you can set the title as before.

9. As you start adding pins make sure the new layer is selected otherwise pins will be added to the wrong layer.

10. When you have placed your first pin hover over it in the key and a small paint bucket icon will appear. By clicking on this you can change the colour and design of your pin and distinguish it from the ones on the previous layer. Unfortunately there doesn't currently seem to be a way to change the default pin design and colour so you will have to change each one individually.

11. Once you've completed your map you can click the share button in the top righthand corner which gives you a link and various sharing and privacy options.

12. As you travel more you can easily up date it!



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