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

Alison Benjamin radiocontrolled at gmail.com
Thu May 28 15:46:01 UTC 2009

Hi James,

Thanks for portraying this mapping use case and describing the thoughts on
mapping ideas so far.

James, in the simple use case you describe above, and I may be jumping way
to far ahead, but is it imagined that mobile phones would be able to hook
into a location unaware mapping tool (putting aside the issue of screen real
estate a phone has).

Although I've caught up on notes posted on the wiki, I'm in class Tuesdays
from 2-5 Toronto time when design meetings have happened so far. Anyway, I'm
interested in helping out with the design of a mapping component and with
the development if appropriate. What I need is some guidance on what tasks
to pick up. One interest I have is describing (developing a use case?) how
exhibition designers would use the tool.

Alison B

On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 5:27 PM, James William Yoon
<james.yoon at utoronto.ca>wrote:

> 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
> experience.
> 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 direction.
> 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;
> yes?)
> Cheers,
> James
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