Just the Apps, Ma'am: DocumentCloud

By on November 18, 2011

What is it?

It’s a better way to store your documents. It enhances your files, allowing you to search, annotate, store and make notes on different documents, as well as cross referencing them against what you already have in your stash.

How it works:

It runs on Calais, which is essentially a smart tagging system. It improves on the idea of keywords by one important step – it also links important people and ideas, and sorts the information in a way that mimics thinking.

Why it’s cool:

It gives your files a brain and acts like a personal reference librarian.  And it does complicated functions in a flash, like:

  • Find all dates in a document and generate a timeline
  • Annotate sections of the document and mark them public (for all to view) or private (for personal notetaking)
  • Embed documents on your own site, and provide more depth to your stories

Real world application:

The Los Angeles Times used DocumentCloud to sift through the 1997 FBI investigation into the slaying of popular rapper Notorious B.I.G.

See more examples here.

Use it for:

Major reporting assignments; deep fact checking; FOIA requests and other government document dumps; exploration of a topic.


Web / iPhone / Android