Using maps to tell stories

I recently moved from San Francisco back to Northern Virginia where I’m from. I’ve always wanted to drive across the country, so a friend of mine and I took the opportunity to tour a bit of the US. We spent 7 days on the road, drove through 13 states, and covered roughly 3,500 miles along the way.

I was planning on writing a long blog entry to document the trip, and creating a custom Google map as a supplemental visual aid. Creating the map seemed like the fun part, so I did it first. I used Google’s new "My Maps" feature which, in addition to being a little buggy, is also very powerful. I ended up adding so much detail to the map that eventually I didn’t need to write the blog entry anymore. Everything I was going to write as a boring old blog post, I added as annotations to the map, instead. Not only did telling the story as a custom map force me to be more succinct (which almost all writing can benefit from), but I also provided unique visual and spatial context that I would never have been able to capture in an ordinary blog post.

If you’re interested, you can check out my first custom map entitle Cross-country Drive. As a bonus, my friend created his own map documenting his perspective on the trip. It’s interesting to contrast the two and see what different things stood out in our minds.

One thought on “Using maps to tell stories

  1. Hey Christian – had no idea you were back on the east coast. Very cool use of the map API to tell a story, especially with two versions to compare, it definitely adds an additional dimension.
    Maybe I can talk you into coming up to Philly and speaking about Apollo at our user pfpaug.org group sometime, would be great to see you, catch up as well.
    All the best!
    Rob

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