On mapping: where we are, where we're headed, and a starting use case

Moore, Kathleen E kemoore at bu.edu
Thu May 28 12:45:52 UTC 2009

This isn't mapping, but...


How about introducing a social element...a threaded discussion and/or
"Others who selected this object also visited..."





Kathleen Moore

Web Manager

Boston University School of Management

kemoore at bu.edu



From: fluid-work-bounces at fluidproject.org
[mailto:fluid-work-bounces at fluidproject.org] On Behalf Of James William
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:27 PM
To: Dale Evernden; Ron Wakkary; Erin Yu; Tona Monjo Palau; Muriel
Garreta Domingo; Antranig Basman
Cc: Fluid Work
Subject: On mapping: where we are, where we're headed, and a starting
use case


Hi all,

Some of the chatter around mapping, its possibilities, and what we're
doing with it has been a bit scattered, so I'm writing up this email to
consolidate some of that and give an overview of the landscape, as well
as provide a basis for some ongoing dialogue.

If we were to map out the space of our mapping ideas (pun unintended), I
think we might find that they lie on two axes: location awareness, and
spatial vs. conceptual.

Maps can be location-aware (map knowing the current location of the
map-user), or location-unaware (map oblivious to the current location of
the map-user). Note that it's not entirely clearcut; there's a spectrum,
or rather, varying degrees of awareness: maps could be acutely aware of
the user's precise position at all times (full tracking), aware of when
the user is in a particular zone (e.g., proximity to an object), aware
of when the user interacts with a particular object (e.g., tagging of an
object), etc.

Additionally, maps can either be spatial (mapping the physical layout of
a space, as in a floor plan) or conceptual. Conceptual mapping, in our
case, largely involves relating objects (to each other, to concepts,
etc.). This could be, say, semantically (e.g., DRESS worn by a Belle
used at The Uber-Grand Gala of 1942, attended by photographer Bob, who
photographed Belle in this PHOTO), or otherwise (e.g., objects related
to each other by subject, geography, time period, etc.). It's probably
most natural to think of conceptual maps as node-link graphs (e.g.,
concept/mind-maps), but they could conceivably take on other, more
'interesting' forms (e.g., arc diagrams, treemaps, etc.).

Also, like location awareness, there's conceivably a spectrum of
solutions between spatial and conceptual mapping. One could imagine, for
instance, various ways that a spatial map might overlay the relationship
of objects to each other (e.g., a node-link graph overlaid upon the
spatial map; or, highlighting objects on the spatial map that belong to
the same period/theme/etc.; etc.).

So, our mapping ideas thus far lie somewhere on space like this:

                  spatial mapping

location-unaware --------+-------- location-aware

                 conceptual mapping

Another thing to consider is whether we are looking at maps from the
desktop or mobile experience. For instance (and most obviously),
location-aware mapping is a moot point in the context of the desktop

All of this is maybe an unnecessarily longish preamble to talk about the
following simple use case:

Consider an individual who's returned from a museum visit. A few objects
caught her interest, and she'd like to learn more about them or revisit
the content. She goes to her desktop computer, opens up a browser to the
museum's site, and finds the interactive museum maps. The maps show the
exhibition space, divided by zones, which are labeled by their theme.
She clicks on the general area she remembers the object to be, and is
given some textual content about the zone in general (i.e., zone main
text), and a shortish list of objects (image and object name, perhaps)
organized by subtheme/subzone. Clicking on the object gives detailed
information on it, including related texts. From here, she can click on
various different paths to related objects: by time, artist, etc.;
clicking a path highlights zones on the map which contain those related
objects. She can then click on those zones, and find the relevant
objects highlighted in the objects list.

Alternatively, she might use a search feature to find an object that she
doesn't remember the general location of, or simply to explore for more
information. The map would highlight zones with relevant object results,
as well as give a standard listing of object search results to the side
of the map. Hovering over or clicking on an object in the side results
would highlight the correlating zone.

This use case has been built in part from some data we've collected from
our McCord visit, which I'm compiling and will send out soon(ish).

I'm hoping this use case can serve as a starting point for dialogue
about our first designs and prototypes for a mapping solution.
Naturally, our dialogue may very well lead us into an entirely different

Let's meet soon to talk about going from here.

(also, I think Antranig has some notes he'll be putting up soonish about
the implementation side of mapping; technological options and so forth;


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