Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our mega, collaborative digital package on holiday lights

Lights. Lights. Everywhere.

Call us the Griswolds of holiday lights reporting. 

Last year, I helped put together a comprehensive, award-winning, digital holiday lights package. 
This year, we decided to kick it up a notch, streamline our process and provide even better, more useful information to our readers. 

Who was involved: Aimee Heckel at the Boulder Daily Camera, Whitney Bryen at the Longmont Times-Call, Jessica Benes with the Loveland Reporter-Herald and Julie Baxter with the Broomfield Enterprise worked together as a regional reporting team, in an unprecedented effort to tackle this topic on a grand scale -- and save us all lots of time in the meanwhile. 

What we did: We used a new, free smartphone app, TrackMyTour, to produce a giant regional holiday map with HUNDREDS of points, all photographed and automatically plotted using smartphones onto an embeddable Google Map, thereby removing the need to enlist photographers, web designers and page designers for the first year ever. Talk about a time-saver.

You've really got to click on this map and zoom out to see the extent of our listings! You won't believe it. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prezi for holiday lights 2013

As always, Prezi rocked my winter socks off by being the best option for an interactive image of holiday lights.

Last year, I used Thinglink. I tried playing with it again today but it just didn't seem to be as fun as Prezi. I'm kind of a Prezi addict.

Prezi for president.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TrackMyTour for holiday lights map: rated A

As we continue our hunt for the perfect interactive photo map for our annual Christmas lights article, I found myself once again gravitating toward travel apps.

IDEA #2: TrackMyTour, rated A

The pluses:
- Free app. Easy to use.

- Allows you to take photos with a different camera and upload them into the app (pull from camera roll), or use a built-in camera. This lets you add reader-submitted photos, too (just set the location manually so it ends up on the right spot on the map).

- Photos are also automatically saved to your camera roll, so you can access them later (like to print individually or use to create an interactive image).

- Allows you to upload live on site or save the points to upload later, like if you don't have wifi (up Boulder Canyon) or you're in a hurry (although it uploads within seconds).

- The map and photo display on the app looks more professional and aesthetic than Geospike and other geotagging apps I've used.

The great holiday lights map -- again: Instagram maps, rated C-

This is a screen shot. Not an embeddable, interactive map. Don't get excited. 

Last year, we were honored to receive a Digital First award for our coverage of holiday lights.

This year, I'm working with one of my favorite digital reporters, Whitney Bryen, at the Longmont Times-Call, to try to come up with a new solution.

THE TASK: Find a new way to plot holiday lights around Boulder County with photos and addresses on a map using smartphones. Ideally, we wanted an app that would automatically populate a map that readers could follow, and also a map that would be embeddable and look good in print.

Last year, we used Geospike. It worked well, but we wanted to see if there was a new way to do it better.

IDEA #1: Instagram maps