The Map Room Project: Documenting the Connections and Disjunctions between Civic Data and Lived Experiences

Yanni Loukissas, Georgia Tech
Jude Ntabathia, Georgia Tech
Jihan Sherman, Georgia Tech
Jer Thorp, NYU

New Orleans 2019: Mapping / monitoring

The Map Room project develops local spaces for grassroots map-making, where people can creatively and collaboratively explore data. Conventional digital maps can help people see rapid, large-scale social and environmental changes, even as they unfold. But often these maps are based on abstract data alone and are disconnected from the lived experiences of their audiences. The project empowers people to understand, but also challenge and even redefine the stories that maps and data tell about their lives, and about the places they live. The Map Room is best understood as a hybrid drawing tool, with both digital and traditional components. Participants use our software to identify a geographic region they want to map and select from a variety of data overlays. The resulting image is sent to a projector, which guides participants as they use pens, markers, paint, and collage materials to trace, interpret, and invent their own handmade maps.