Beyond The StoopPosted: 03/11/2011
In Beyond The Stoop, the New York Times looks at a single New York block, one of 70,000 in the city. As the introduction to the story says, each block is “a tile in our vast mosaic, each with its own stories.” Here, 20 of those stories are told.
How It Works
The block is presented as a series of photographs, one for every building on the street. The user can scroll left or right through these photos, just like they were walking down the actual street.
When certain buildings are clicked on, a pop up appears which contains a short amount of text, an audio recording, a photo gallery, or some combination of those. The audio recordings are short, no more than a minute and a half. The photos can be enlarged. In some cases, there are links to related stories from the newspaper or other websites.
A smaller bar at the bottom of the page allows for easier scrolling along the block. The user can also jump directly from pop up to pop up.
What Works, What Doesn’t
The stories collected here aren’t deep. These are short anecdotes about the day-to-day lives of the people who live on the block. Collected together like this, they give some small sense of what it is like to live there.
The problem is that the content is often too limited. The entry for Dorthy Goldstein, the “block elder,” reads “Ms. Goldstein, 88, is likely the oldest person on the block. Originally from Scotland, she is widowed from her husband Henry. She is homebound, with no family nearby, so the people on the block take care of her.” The entry for Mullanes Bar and Grill simply reads “The corner hangout.” A little more information would be help here.
The use of audio recordings does help personalize the stories. One of the subjects tells a story about a pimp who used to frequent the street in the 1970s. Another talks about the illness of their baby daughter Estella. Such stories benefit from being told by the people the events happened to instead of being impersonally filtered through a reporter.
And because these are all separate stories with nothing in common beyond location, Beyond the Stoop does, like other projects made up of multiple stories connected by some overall theme, suffer from a fragmentation. The user has to do the leg work to get the larger picture and draw out deeper connections on their own.