Mapping your Stories

work in progress, aligning the maps. Not all maps are equal ... and some maps are less equal than others.
work in progress, aligning the maps. Not all maps are equal ... and some maps are less equal than others.

I've just uploaded our first set of visual maps to the site... a map is now generated for each of your Stories... here is my story. Simple, isn't it?

(By the way, if you can't see the map you probably need to install the latest version of Flash Player. It's freee, and it will only take a minute or two)

At the top of the map you can see my 'portrait': which shows who I am, where I'm from, and what I do.

Across the map are spread the locations in Folkestone I have a connection with. Or in my case the Location - the Folkestonomy Float (I admit, I have more connections than this, but Andreas was hurrying me back to London, and I got flustered doing my mapping...).

On the bottom right are the 'reasons' that people connect to their stories. Some of these are connected to locations, and some are not connected to locations. You can identify which story an item is in by it's colour.

So there you go, have a look, and see what you think.

In the coming weeks we'll be adding more maps onto the site, which show different sets of connections, which will allow you to see how folkestone, and the triennial, are connected out into the rest of the world, and how the spaces we've identified within folkestone are connected to each other (other than by roads and pavement...)

At the moment we are cleaning up a lot of the data we've gathered. Due to the larger than expected number of failures of our 'add-ons'* we've had problems with data being getting corrupted upon import, and so we're going through looking at all of your story photos and making sure the stories we have are correct, and trying to tie up any missing photographs to the stories... but pleae let us know if you spot any problems with your stories.

*word of advice, don't use cheap 1/4" jack plugs!

They're maps, but not as you know them.

Regular visitors to the site may notice that we've added a couple of sections to the left hand navigation: Map Items and Stories. These are my first steps in visualising all of the data we have, and the connections between them, so that we can create further maps over time.

The map items are all the plug-in items we have on the float. Browsing through the lists of items you can see how each item is connected to others, through connections Kathrin mapped out prior to the start of the Triennial.

On top of all the relations between the plug-in's there are your stories. These are the connections that are inferred by the mapping we make at the float. Each story is split up into a 'portrait' and a number of stories. The portrait reflects where the visitor we've mapped have come from and how they ended up at the triennial, the stories are how they are connected to the cultural spaces in Folkestone.

It's taken a while to get these up due to a number of teething difficulties with the whole setup - it's quite a complex system and this is the first version of it. We will now be uploading new stories onto the site each day, along with photographs, and if you've already come and told us your story you can search for yourself if you know your story ID, or if you gave us a name you can search by your name (or your friend's names).

Please let us know if you see anything wrong with your mapping: there are quite a few issues with some of them from the early days, and we've not been able to attach images to mappings as reliably as we'd like to, so there may be some missing or some attached incorrectly. A quick email letting us know the Story ID ( eg m48625ab2 ) and what's wrong and we'll get on with updating it.

This might not look like a map, in the traditional sense, at the moment, but if you start browsing through the links you'll start to see how places are interconnected by people's stories, how certain places are more fundamental to stories than others. These connections are a map, albeit represented like a text based adventure game on an 80's computer. My ability to see the map in my head probably comes from too many hours spent playing them as a kid.

My task now is to start to gather all of the data we have hear into some form of visualisation. The first step of this is for me to start visualising each of the stories we've been given. Once I can see the spread of those I'll be able to see how we can clearly map the relationships between the stories.

So, please keep checking back to see new bit's appear, and if you want to be kept updated of changes subscribe to out mailing list or our blog's RSS feed.

Refining the language and gathering some initial data

A rough and ready mapping, clarifying my, really!
A rough and ready mapping, clarifying my, really!

The last month has been spent going back and forwards defining what information we are going to gather, and how we are going to use that to generate maps. I've also been working on how we might gather the data and get that into a computer, and then translate that into one of many possible views, as a map.

Kathrin, Andreas and I took a trip to Folkestone so I could have a look around, and so we could talk to some people about mapping, and the space. They told us there stories of how their lives are involved in the creative side of folkestone, the conversations helped me to think about how the pieces fit together into a map.

Storytelling by Signs, Language as a Network

The primary challenge for me is trying to work out how to turn a physical interaction by visitors into a set of data that can be used to produce maps of the cultural spaces in Folkestone.

From my earliest meetings regarding this I've always felt that the visitors are telling their stories. As the project has proceeded and the idea become refined the story has always been a core idea, with the refinement being the language used to describe the story, and the subject of the story we are asking to be told.

The initial brief has a strong concept for a visual language that would be used to tell the stories, based upon street signs and road-works. This would be a very physical process - not someone inputting data into a computer - and we wanted to keep the need for active digitisation to a minimal; the person who's looking after visitors should be focusing on the people, not a computer.

Early on this was imagined as having a map of Folkestone that players told their stories on, by placing markers on. The markers representing actions, connections and objects. This would allow for the story to be laid out across Folkestone, creating each persons map within that space.

Looking into how this could be digitised I started looking into ways of tracking the objects, initial thoughts pointed at
, but whilst it's possible to track RFID tags in space, it wouldn't have been accurate enough to track the placement of objects on the map.

More recent discussions, including the Mapping Workshop at the Stanley Pickering Gallery, has move us away from using the town map as the scope of the mapping tool, and move towards a more abstracted storytelling. This may, or may not, be easier to build an input system for.

Breaking the story down into it's components - essentially verbs and nouns, or items and contexts - has allowed me to view the stories as a simple set of star networks: core actions that are related to places and objects, which have another structure - time, which is (generally) a line.

I can imagine ways of mapping this physically, but the challenge is now how to get that to merge with the overall ideas of the graphical language and possible interactions. It's going to be a challenge to make that work with the visual ideas, and then produce meaningful and interesting maps from the data collected.

a public works project. site design and build by dorian