Thing Link: Digital Tool Review

Holly Pyles is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

My Thinglink Demo:
https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1147018756271112195

Thinglink Inc. is a company whose website provides an annotation tool that elevates any image or video by adding tags with additional details directly onto it. These tagged products can not only be viewed on the Thinglink site, but shared on various social media platforms for consumption by the general public. This use of interactive visualization is a unique and creative way to share information that any person, creating or viewing, can enjoy. It is extremely easy to work and can be used for every discipline, as the image/video you upload and data you compile is limited only by your imagination. The informative tags you add can include anything from audio to video to websites to maps. Don’t feel limited to just images or videos either, as you can also annotate 360º/VR images that make you feel as if you are there. If using Thinglink sounds daunting, don’t fret! They include an optional video tutorial at the beginning of every project.

Anyone can create an account and use Thinglink, but if you choose to upgrade to a paid account, you can have access to additional features, such as a wider range of available icon images to choose from. The Thinglink subscriptions are targeted at business and educational use, as one of the upgraded features is the ability to add students to your Thinglink group. If you are looking to use Thinglink as a teaching tool for the classroom or handy device for your business, I would suggest looking into an upgraded account; however, I used the free version and it provided all of the necessities and more for me to create the project I had envisioned and view other projects for inspiration.

For my project, I used Thinglink to annotate a photo of the Indian Peafowl with additional information about the bird, including an audio file of it’s call and a video of it’s mating dance. This was a great tool for compiling lots of different data about the peacock in one place with an easy-to-use concept and an aesthetically pleasing vision. Thinglink allowed my project to be a one-stop shop about the Indian Peafowl, and it can do this for an unlimited amount of other topics.

While the majority of my experience using Thinglink went smoothly, I did have an issue with the Google Maps feature. It was advertised that you could embed a location on Google Maps into a tag, so that the Google Map fixated on that location would show up when that tag was hovered over. I tried to do this with India on Google Maps, but the embed link did not work and showed up as if I had not entered an real link. Upon googling how to embed a google map on Thinglink, the information I found was outdated and looked as if it had not been updated with the site, so I was unable to use that particular feature. Instead, I used a screenshot of India on Google Maps and wrote my own caption. Other than that one inconvenience, the program was extremely helpful and worked very well. I can say that I have not used another tool like it, which makes it even more valuable. I could definitely see myself using Thinglink again, and I’m excited to explore what else I can create with this tool.

How To:

  1. Register for a Thinglink Account
    1. Register by entering an email address and creating a password. Also, if you are looking for a free option, make sure you choose a teacher account. The student option is also free, but you will need an access code before you can use the site.
  2. Click “Create” to start making your first project.
    1. The “create” button is blue and can be found on your startup profile.
  3. A drop-down menu will let you choose to upload an image, video, 360º/VR image, or import a URL.
    1. In my case, I uploaded an image.
  4. Once the file you chose has uploaded, a Thinglink video tutorial is available in the bottom left corner of the screen if you need additional guidance.
  5. Click anywhere on the image/video to add a tag.
  6. Using the menu on the left, you can change the icon image of the tag.
  7. Enter the url of the website or image you would like to attach to the tag under “Link or image address.”
    1. You can change how the link is formatted on the tag by choosing Small OG, Large OG, Small Image, Large Image, Custom, etc.
    2. If you link something that the program recognizes, like Google Maps or Youtube, the format will have an option that caters to the linked website.
  8. You can then enter custom text that will show up on the tag.
    1. Text may be automatically entered for you when you insert a link, but this can be changed or reformatted in the text box.
  9. You can then change the image that shows up on the tag or add audio that will play when the cursor hovers on the tag by clicking on “Change Image” or “Upload Audio” and uploading an image or audio file.
  10. Other advanced settings are also found on this menu and can be changed or applied, such as “Hide Icon,” “Click Action,” “Font Family,” etc.
    1. These advanced settings are explained on the menu.
  11. Once you have made your tag, click “Save” at the bottom of the menu. The tag will then be on the image/video, and you can continue making tags.
  12. When you are done with your project, add a title at the top and click “Save Image” at the bottom right of the page. The project will then be saved to your profile, where you can edit, share, and much more.

If you need additional guidance, here is the link to a youtube demo.

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