LiveWhale Places Launched
August 05, 2011
By David McKelvey
Early this summer, I had announced that we were working with WhiteWhale on LiveWhale Places. In the interim since, Morgan and I have reviewed Alex and Fred’s work on it several times over the summer, knocking out some of the kinks and getting its user interface working smoothly. It is with great pleasure that I am announcing that LiveWhale Places has launched at Lewis & Clark!
As part of launch, Morgan, Lawrence and I quickly jumped in to get everything on the campus maps into LiveWhale so that you would have an easy time using this new feature. You can now geo-locate news stories, events, galleries, blurbs and images.
The process is simple since LiveWhale Places works intuitively. For instance, as you’re editing a news story the takes place at the English department, you could tag it with Miller Hall by simply typing Miller (or less). LiveWhale Places auto-suggests matching locations about which it is already aware. But, let’s say you don’t know that English is in Miller. Well then, start typing English. You’ll see Miller as we’ve pre-filled most offices and major elements of the Places with related content.
If instead your story is about a partnership with a community organization — somewhere in Portland say — you can geo-locate the story to where the partner’s offices are or where the story took place. Type an address, a major landmark (like the statue of liberty), and LiveWhale Places will give you some suggestions from which you can choose to create a new LiveWhale Place on-the-fly.
And right there, LiveWhale will show you your Place on the map. You can zoom it, move it, and if the pin isn’t in the right place, you can move the pin where you need it, from right there while editing your news story.
Places works the same for all the types of content I mentioned above, except for events. Previous to this, events have always had a location (for obvious reasons). That location remains post Places launch for an important reason. We did pre-fill Places with all the buildings on our campuses and downtown, but we also want to give you the flexibility to be more specific. So you can geo-locate your event to JR Howard by typing JR, and then enter the location of Room 124 for the attendees.
Why geo-locate my content?
The previous sentence begs the question from some that I’ll paraphrase here as: “why bother with geo-location?” Take that one step further: why is new media spending its very-limited time and effort on this? There are a number of good reasons why this is a key and fantastic step forward for us, but I’ll highlight two that I find very persuasive.
One simple reason is that it gives us a whole new dimension to present Lewis & Clark in a very convincing manner. For instance, one of our collectively agreed upon statements is that Lewis & Clark is “locally and globally engaged.”
How much better can we demonstrate the truth of this statement in we can easily drop pins for all the graduate school’s partnerships with local agencies and organizations onto a map — and it’s overwhelming how involved they are in the community? And this is just one example — I know there are others out there. How about this? How cool is it to follow one of our faculty members and their research around the world like Kellar Autumn?
Now, Kellar’s map was built well before LiveWhale Places, but is a good demonstration of exactly the benefit here (and would now be so much easier to do). Because in concert with the ability to geo-locate content I spoke of above, LiveWhale Places also includes a LiveWhale widget that allows you to drop geo-located content into any page, news story, event or blurb — displayed on a map.
A second reason is that like-it-or-not, believe-it-or-not we are moving from a desktop (or stationary) computing world to one in which mobile will dominate. Part and parcel with offering a positive and successful mobile experience is in utilizing the mobile’s location and filtering content for it based upon that — particularly when small screens are involved. Without geo-located content, this is simply impossible.
Think, you’re standing the LRC and you’re heading to an event, but you can’t find the email and otherwise don’t know where the event will be. (I know the LRC isn’t too big that you couldn’t just wander around, but bear with me, maybe the event is really in Boley.) However, what if you could goto the events calendar and see only events in the next two hours — near you. It would probably pop right up, and a few minutes later you’re where you need to be.
In this example, geo-location is essential to providing a great experience to the end-user, be they part of Lewis & Clark or not. This particular service doesn’t exist yet, but now it can exist if it is of comparative value. This gives us a whole new range of options to engage our internal and external communities.
Simply put, in the next few years, if we want to grow our community with talented new students, lure great new faculty to teach and engage them, hire amazing staff to support them, and better connect with alumni and donors, we need to stay ahead of this curve, not behind it. LiveWhale Places gives us a tool to do that.
There are many to thank.
While new media is on the front lines of web-tech, we don’t walk this path alone. As always — great thanks to WhiteWhale, particularly Alex and Fred, who built this feature for us. And many thanks to last year’s presidential strategic initiative fund, which funded this addition to LiveWhale for us through the LiveWhale training and upgrades project.