How to microblog in high heels

A geek girl's guide to social media and online engagement

Posts Tagged ‘maps

How to map: top tips and tools for hyperlocal publishers

Getting to grips with mapping is a fundamental part of running a hyperlocal blog – this is the first part of a post I’ve written for Wannabe Hacks as part of their hyperlocal week – the rest of the post has some helpful tips for using different mapping tools – read it here.

Seany @Flickr

 

Mapping is wrapped up with the very idea of local. It’s no surprise that one of the first things many hyperlocal start-ups do is work out exactly which area the blog aims to cover.

But what’s local to us is bound up with our day-to-day living – how the school is situated to the bank, how long it takes to walk to the nearest park, how close the post office is to the train station – these are all things which make up our private memory map of our local area.

In this way – using ordinance survey map data could pose a problem for hyperlocal publishers – since the reader’s local map is woven into the fabric of daily lives, their emotions and experiences. But if stories and new bits of information can somehow tap into this private map (make it emo-local) – and help the reader better understand, better digest, or give more meaning to something about their community – then the map is a very powerful tool for storytelling indeed.

Part of the reason hyperlocal publishing has often been likened to the news industry is because there are aspects of being a community publisher akin to the traditional patch reporter.

But while local newspaper reporters may struggle to place the story in its emo-local context, hyperlocal publishers not only usually know their area through and through – but also have a number of easy to use online tools at their disposal to help.

There are different types of maps that make up an area – some online tools will work very well for local reporting and some stories, while others will be just too complicated for volunteers working in their spare time to bother with.

This post aims to give a brief overview of some online mapping tools hyperlocal publishers can use – with some practical tips for those getting to grips with maps for news gathering, storytelling and engagement purposes. I also aim to offer a few ideas for when these tools are best applied and what is the best practise for using maps for hyperlocal blogging.

This is by no means an extensive list – and I’m no expert – so I’d very much welcome comments in the section below linking to other good tools, ideas for best mapping practice and links to maps you’ve seen work well on hyperlocal blogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyperlocal mapping: Tools and tips for geolocation storytelling

Recycling data by ward in Cardiff – created with Google maps and Zeemaps

One of the first things I did when setting up hyperlocal blog BournvilleVillage.com was to look at a local map of the ward area’s electoral boundaries.

Within the first few weeks of posting up blogposts of news and events in the area, it was evident maps and geolocation tools were integral to the internal mechanics of hyperlocal blogging.

I knew my ‘patch’ from the angles of road junctions, local landmarks by how they looked when I passed them on my way to work, the size of the park by the length of time it took to walk around with the dog, and where my house was in relation to everything else – a map of our local area is woven into the fabric of our day to day lives. Each story’s meaning to the reader is bound up with its geolocation – every line of each post had a longitude and latitude in her mind built through memory.

This post on gritting routes in Bournville written by Dave Harte included a few pars and a map showing the priority gritting routes for the council in times of snow and icy weather. Within minutes the post attracted a comment from a local asking what exact boundaries were considered Bournville – whether roads from neighbouring wards Cotteridge and Shirchley could not be included because many residents considered them part of ‘Bournville’ – location, for hyperlocal publishers and readers, is pumped with emotion.

Maps are part of the very idea of hyperlocal – but when is it best to use them to help illustrate a story – and when is merely adding the name of the road or postcade area enough for residents to get a geolocal grip on the content?

I’m preparing a blogpost on mapping tools and tips for hyperlocal publishers and would welcome your comments and ideas to feed into this practical guide – with perhaps some comment on how maps have been used so far and what should be avoided.

In a couple of weeks I’ll also be running the first Cardiff Students Social Media Cafe where we’ll be looking specifically at using mapping tools to illustrate or tell a story.

Indeed, one of the first things I think about when looking at how big media and local blogs are using maps is often that they are used in completely the wrong context – as a tokenistic nod towards data visualisation.

When used in the right way the map is the medium through which the story is told – or is a portal for readers to add to the story.

Great mapping tools I have used in the past include Google maps, Zeemaps, Open Heat Map, crowdmaps and a few others.

Which are your favourite tools for mapping and what are they good for? What stores lend themselves to a map, what problems can be solved with a map? When should we use maps in hyperlocal reporting and when have they worked well/not so well. Leave your comments below and they will feed into my future blogpost and workshops.

Written by hrwaldram

January 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm