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We Tell Stories: An Interactive Journey Through a City, Powered by Google Maps

Penguin Books collaborated with one of its authors to create a dynamic, interactive thriller that weaves through London via Google Maps. Perhaps we can do the same for somewhere like Detroit.

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Written by DeletedUser

In its  We Tell Stories project, Penguin Books collaborated with several authors to present their stories in fresh digital formats, expanding upon the possibilities of storytelling. One of the formats that struck me the most in its simplicity and innovation is a thriller titled "The 21 Steps", by Charles Cumming.

We Tell Stories: The 21 Steps
In "The 21 Steps," the reader follows a first-person narrator as he runs about a Google Maps satellite view of London, with each stop on his route (designated by Google Maps' familiar pink teardrop marker) coinciding with a plot point. When he's running, the line that dynamically illustrates his path speeds along; when he's on the Tube, it shoots across the page. 

While the constant movement does get dizzying quickly, and you kind of get the feeling early on that the story was written to serve the medium, I found this an exciting and inspirational way to explore a city without being there. (I didn't stick around the story long enough to exhaust all of its features, so I don't know whether or not the story eventually adopted a "choose-your-own-adventure" format, but that would have been pretty cool, no?)

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This project inspired me primarily through its clever use of Google Maps in getting me to virtually explore a place in the form of a narrative. I could imagine, say, a city tourism bureau commissioning a smartphone app/website from local authors/artists that told a (presumably uplifting) story and highlighted local parks, murals, hidden gems, and maybe even popped into a museum for a bit. 

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NB, 1: This Inspiration was primarily inspired by Arjan's Foursquare tour map

NB, 2: One would think that shows like The Wire would have pummeled Baltimore's tourism industry, but apparently there are such things as "The Wire" tours, as rare as they are.

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DeletedUser

I love the idea of storytelling! Your post reminded me of this scavenger hunt game app as another way to learn more about a location. http://www.scvngr.com/

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DeletedUser

Although, it's old, I'm still a fan of The Wilderness Downtown...
http://thewildernessdowntown.com/ Always thought it would be fun to create something like that.

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DeletedUser

Thank you so much for the links, Michelle! You know, it's funny -- I've actually heard/read a lot about both SCVNGR and The Wilderness Downtown, but for some reason or other never got around to checking out either -- and am so thankful I did. (Especially the latter! What an inspired use of Google Maps to open up the floodgates of memory...)

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