Map Critique In-Class Exercise

For today’s lab, we’ll break everyone into groups of two or three; ask you to review the following list of choices and choose one map to analyze; then give you roughly a half-hour to explore your chosen map, and perhaps do a little background research to find out how it was created, by whom, what their intentions were, how it’s been received by its intended audiences/user groups, etc. Ultimately, you’ll apply some of the evaluative criteria we discussed in the first half of class (you can access my presentation here). We’ll then reconvene and share what we’ve discovered.

Here are your options:

Situ Research / International Criminal Court’s mapping of cultural destruction in Mali: a platform combining geospatial information, historic satellite imagery, photos, open-source videos, and other forms of site documentation to assess the destruction of sites of cultural heritage. You can find the interactive platform here. See also these additional media files. *Note: we’ll be visiting Situ’s studios on October 28!



Situ Research / The Nation’s Where the Bodies are Buried: Mapping Allegations of War Crimes in Afghanistan: a geospatial portal combining historical satellite imagery, photos and videos, documenting evidence for alleged U.S. war crimes in Nerkh, Afghanistan.



The Office for Creative Research / National Geographic / Wild Bird Trust’s Into the Okavango project: live data documenting expeditions into the Okavango Delta, which contributed to the Great Elephant Census. See also OCR’s project site and research journal. *Note: we’ll be visiting OCR on October 28, too!



The Center for Spatial Research’s Citi Bike Rebalancing Study: studying Citi Bike use patterns and redistribution options in the hopes of evening out the bike-share geography.



The Urban Fabric: publicly-created hand-embroidered maps.



Almudena Cano Piñero’s Urban Strategies to Regenerate Indian Public Space: a student’s catalogue of tools for improving infrastructure and small-scale means for reinvigorating public space in Ahmadebad. See also her Archiprix profile, and more images here. You might choose to focus on a single rendering, or to look across her various illustration techniques and address her comprehensive cartographic approach.



The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Science on a Sphere Explorer: an “interactive earth” visualization engine — a desktop version of the fancy displays we typically see in museums and science centers — featuring environmental data provided by satellites, ground observation, and computer models. See also the Atlantic CityLab article.



City of Amsterdam Maps: based on all kinds of open city data — on housing, urban growth patterns, zoning, big development projects, concentrations of creative activity, etc. You might choose to critique the platform as a whole, or focus on one particular map, or compare a couple visualizations. See also the AtlanticCityLab article.


Information Geographies: studying the geographies of who produces, reproduces, and has access to, and who is represented in our contemporary “knowledge economy.” Based on research directed by Mark Graham at the Oxford Internet Institute. You might choose to study a single map, compare two or three maps, or examine the research project as a whole.



London Sound Survey: a multi-layered map of ambient sounds from across London, and across time.


Surfacing: mapping the geography of transoceanic cables — the things that bring us the Internet. The map is an interactive companion toThe Undersea Network, a wonderful book by NYU faculty member Nicole Starosielski.


Guide Psychogéographique de OWU: led by geographer John Krygier, whose work we’ve read for this week, a group of middle-schoolers engage in a dériveand map the sounds, textures, and smells of their summer camp at Ohio Wesleyan University. Read more about the mapping process.


Larissa Fassler’s psychogeographic maps: tracing the non-places, informal connections, in-between spaces. See also the uncube article and blog post.



Gert Jan Kocken’s palimpsestic maps of Amsterdam and Rotterdam: layered historical maps reflect the various traces of war in these two cities. See also Bianca Stigter’s essay.