Juxtapose is a free, open-source tool from Knight Lab that “helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs.” Juxtapose projects can be embedded into blogs and websites, displaying both pieces of media separated with a user-controlled slider between them. This tool is perfect for historians because it emphasizes visual representations of change over time.
How to Use
Juxtapose is a very user-friendly tool, making it a great addition to an educator’s toolkit for assignments and presentations. The most important part of using Juxtapose is selecting two images that offer generative comparisons. For example, a city landscape now and in the past, a natural landscape before and after a natural disaster, or two versions of the same GIF or meme. Please note that Juxtapose will display best on the web if both images are cropped to be the same size and optimized for web quality.
Once you have selected your two images, you can upload them into Juxtapose in one of two ways. Paste in a URL to the hosted image on the web, which will end with a file extension like .jpg or .png., or upload an image from Dropbox by clicking on the Dropbox icon next to each image field. Once you have your images uploaded, you can add title and credit information and adjust some of the viewing options. Click Preview to view your Juxtapose and make any necessary changes. Once you are satisfied, click “Publish.” This will generate two embed codes. In most instances, unless you are publishing on the Medium blogging platform, you will need the second one that begins with to embed into your website or presentation.
Juxtapose is a great tool to use both for presentations in class and as a quick assignment for students. For example, if discussing the history of your city you can create a Juxtapose of different sites including a contemporary and historic image. Show these to students in class, and have them discuss and comment on what’s changed and why those changes might have occurred. You can point to natural changes, changes in business or residential areas, changes in technology and transportation, or any other useful comparisons.
Alternatively, you can have students create their own Juxtapose images as part of an assignment. Have students locate two primary sources on the web that can offer a useful comparison, and have then make a Juxtapose of those images. This can be accompanied by a short in-class presentation or by a short written explanation of their choices. Alternatively, you can have students search for historic photographs of their community and then take contemporary photographs of the same site. Making a Juxtapose of these two images can not only highlight local change over time, but open up discussions about the process of creating primary sources and how we use them.