Thursday, November 15, 2012

Telling Stories With Maps

Previously we talked about the storytelling power of print maps. The map displays at Armacost Library and A.K. Smiley Public Library highlight some ways print maps can be an important part of storytelling. Using web-based digital maps to bring a tale to life is yet another powerful way to infuse geography into a narrative. The use of both print and web-based maps are just some of the tools available to students, faculty, staff, and administrators at University of Redlands. Maps, whether printed or web-based, are basic spatial information that are important elements of map-based storytelling.

Telling stories with maps is a great way to "better understand the interconnectedness that makes the world work" and help story-map creators, users, and viewers "become better world citizens" (Esri, Telling Stories With Maps: A White Paper, February 2012).

Story maps can have various purposes. Still, all share general elements and principles that include a simple, clear message, spatial information, and user experience. Below is an example of a story map that gives us a picture of the 2008 presidential election. The story map invites users to consider the past as a means to think about the future. It also melds data based on location with information based on individual and group behavior and categories. The story map also invites us to interact, learn, and explore. Even ask questions.

image of the interactive online map of the 2008 presidential election results by precinct
Past As Prologue? 2008 Presidential Election Results By Precinct
A story map powered by Esri

1 comment :

Elizabeth F Wallace said...

I really want to learn how to use ESRI's software. I'm not a GIS professional. I'm a storyteller.

I sometimes use a HUGE wallpaper size map when I tell kids some stories. Lay it on the ground and let them crawl on it. They tell stories where they have been and then I incorporate some of their details into a story I tell (How I Learned Geography) that involves Eastern Europe as well as Western Asia. Their faces light up!.

These days the children have traveled to or have come from so many diverse places! The details they gift me about their experience of a place can then perhaps be incorporated into a future story. Never underestimate the power of a detail from someone else's life.

I also want to learn to merge information from a particular culture with sky maps (perhaps using Stellarium software) so that one can "travel" to another country, familiarize themselves with the terrain, culture (even in the past) and then "look up" and see the night sky as it was then. Perhaps then ancient skylore will become more understandable.

I also work with students to create contemporary sky stories based on their understanding of, in the case of urban children, "non naked eye" observations -- via computer :)