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.

1 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 group sometime, would be great to see you, catch up as well.
    All the best!


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