Samples for Working with Space and Place

Thanks this week to Jess for her provocative materials. I’m planning to add a few things to this list over the weekend (in part because there’s a lot of overlap between what this project made me think of and what Noel’s project made me think of), but here’s a couple first-thought resources based on the questions Jess asked in her rationale. 

Zeemaps is particularly useful if you want many authors but not the general public to be able to add to an individual map’s annotations (Scribblemaps is one of many other similar tools).

Still, it is worth observing that you can do most of the “drawing stuff” you mention with the My Maps features that already exist in Google maps. In addition to text, it is now pretty easy to integrate media into place-based annotations. And lots of blog platforms (and other storytelling platforms, including the Creatavist) make embedding saved Google maps pretty easy. For example, some of my amazing digital media students created a website (coded from scratch) that explores “The Legend of Mediumfoot” during the fall of 2014. Their “Sightings” page was multiply authored and is the type of thing that could easily be featured on a blog page in a class where design wasn’t part of the content.

This (probably) isn’t the right fit for a pilot-program literature class, but it is worth noting that if students know some web design basics and/or are interested in learning javascript/json, Google Maps API is really flexible and well documented.

It might also be worth thinking about ways to have students create non-digital maps (and then perhaps to document these products photographically). I love Nobutaka Aozaki’s From Here to There – this 2012 project consists of “A map of Manhattan composed of hand-drawn maps by various New York pedestrians whom the artist asked for directions.”

Consider sound mapping as an option. I know Steph Ceraso had students do this in Pittsburgh. And there are lots of intriguing examples of other cities/places creating collaborative soundscapes in different ways. Here’s a list of project links via the Acoustic Ecology Institute.

Along those lines, I’ve long wanted to find a way to take what I got out of the article “Affective Geographies: Toward Richer Cartographic Semantics for the Geospatial Web” by Elisa Giaccardi and Daniela Fogli (link to .pdf) into a semester-sized student project. Their pilot study “engaged the local community of Boulder, Colorado, in capturing and sharing sonic experiences for a period of six weeks” and was conducted In collaboration with the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department and Water Quality Department. They use fancy sound cameras, but students could probably get sufficient data using phones and notebooks.

Thinking about real-and-imagined places in terms of video game environment design could be provocative. British journalist/game critic Andy Kelly’s Other Places project, which is “a showcase of virtual worlds from a variety of games, and a tribute to the talented artists and designers who create them,” could be a starting place. Here’s a brief interview with Kelly (via the predominantly German website

A couple more general resources for place studies:

The first three volumes of the University of Chicago Press’ massive History of Cartography are available online as .pdfs.

The Cultural Landscape Bibliography – an ongoing project associated with American Studies 851: Interpretation of Cultural Landscapes at the University of Maryland (compiled by Mary Corbin Sies, Gilda Anroman, Claudia Rector, and Krista Park and their classes).

Pitt specific: 

The Darlington Digital Library has digital versions of some really wonderful historic maps of the region. 

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