Because our final project will be an interactive map, we’ll dedicate some time in most of our classes to presenting and critiquing several (canonical/ exemplary/ experimental/ overwrought/ elegant/ etc.) maps in a variety of formats, to see what they do right and wrong, what they illuminate and obfuscate, how they integrate form and content effectively and poorly, and what lessons we can take away from them and apply, or avoid, in our own projects.
We’ll maintain an “atlas” of mapping projects, from which you can choose one project to critique. You’re also welcome to propose additions to the collection. You’re encouraged to choose a map that both pertains to the critical issues raised in the week’s readings and raises practical questions that we’ll need to address as we create our own map(s). Please consult with the other presenters for the week to work out who’s chosen which projects.
Your ten-minute presentation should consist of two parts: (1) a critique and (2) a critical-creative application prototype. The critique should focus on a single mapping project and should address some of these issues. As the weeks progress, and as we explore more and more mapping projects and hone our methods for critical evaluation, we’ll generate a list of “best practices” or an evaluation rubric (see this) with which we can critique and refine our own project at the end of the semester. Your application is a critical-creative attempt to apply to your own research project the same effective and/or ineffective techniques used in the map you’ve critiqued. You might choose to exaggerate the failures of that map by creating a parody – or you might choose to blend in helpful features from some of the other maps in the atlas in order to productively consider mapping techniques that might aid in your own work. Be sure to identify what projects inspired you and why, and how and where we can see those projects’ influence in your map. Your application can take virtually any form and format – from a quilted map to a hand-dissected map to an audio map. Keep in mind that this is only a prototype – a rough sketch, a maquette, a “napkin drawing”; we’re more concerned in this context with the ideas behind your project than with your execution.
Before class begins, post your 600- to 900-word text – which should encompass both your critique and the explanation of your application exercise – along with documentation of your application, to our class blog. In class, you’ll have 10 to 12 minutes for your presentation; please save five of those minutes for discussion. And please be sure to have presentation media loaded/booted/hung/distributed before class begins so we can start on time. Your review is worth 15% of your final grade.