I’m really excited by tools that enable digital or transmedia storytelling. I think there’s huge potential for organizations to use multiple mediums, content, and locations to help document and advocate for the change they want in their communities and around the world. I recently attended the US launch event for Historypin is a new (and free) application for Android, iPhone, or the web that arranges photos, videos, and text in the context of time and location (leveraging the Google Maps API). I was so energized by the tool—both its current functionality and its potential for future application—that I downloaded the mobile (Android) version and started testing it on the spot. It’s been a few weeks now; I’ve used it to share photos from a work trip to Portland, Maine, and to explore my neighborhood in New York.

In the most basic terms, I see Historypin as the interface between people (you can be in the exact spot you’re looking at on the map, or around the world), places (the geography, the buildings), and things (the events, small and large, that change those people and places over time). It’s a way of interacting with other people, other places, and other times from anywhere you are. So how can social good organizations take advantage of an innovative tool like this? Here are some ideas:

Share community history. Non-organizational community groups and nonprofits that focus on a specific locality can create hyperlocal community engagement through pictures and documentation. Do you have a hyperlocal online network/space? Encourage volunteers, program officers, donors, or other community members to become social reporters and document events in their neighborhood.

Promote campaigns. Pull together information, data, and multimedia power (maps, photos, videos) to create a compelling, interactive campaign story for your nonprofit organization. Encourage community members to join, follow, or share their own related media, giving them a way to participate in and connect with the campaign.

Create digital classrooms. Education programs—schools, after-school programs, and youth-focused nonprofit—can work with established collections in the classroom; and students can document the area around their school to create their own collections, and potentially trade collections with other schools.

Create a custom “tour.” Your organization can arrange pieces of media and information so that they unfold in order—great for telling a story, or walking people through highlights or history of an area or place. People can follow along via the mobile application or the website. Museums, tour groups, and history societies could all make use of Historypin for sharing tours and routes, complete with images and stories. Nonprofits: What if you created a digital annual report that walked viewers through your service area, giving them a tour of your work and impact?

If you have a chance, explore the map. Use the time slider and address search to wander around the world and check out the 51,000-plus photos already uploaded.

What other ways do you think this tool could be used to support the social sector? I’d love to hear your ideas.