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ATLMaps – Mapping the Stories of our Cities

By Lynda Larsen

Organized by the Metro-Atlanta Library Association, the Society of Georgia Archivists and the Georgia Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, our August joint professional development event featured the ATLMaps project ( Joe Hurley, Data Services and GIS Librarian, and Dr. Brennan Collins, Associate Director of Writing Across the Curriculum and the Center for Instructional Effectiveness, were the presenters for our visit. Attendees were invited to a presentation featuring a 24-foot interactive wall at CURVE, Georgia State University’s “Collaborative University Research & Visualization Environment.” The wall displayed the dramatic elements and stacking features of the ATLMaps project.

What is ATLMaps? The project is a collaborative is collaboration between Georgia State University and Emory University.   “The ATLMaps project combines archival maps, geospatial data visualization, and user-contributed multimedia location pinpoints to promote investigation into any number of issues about the city of Atlanta, “according to the website. “The project looks to offer a framework that incorporates storytelling reliant on the geospatial data … so that material can be cross-compared in novel ways.”

The project is both “a process and a product.” The Indiana University Polis Center’s concept of a “deep map” guides the vision for GSU‘s ATLMaps project. A deep map is defined as “ a detailed, multimedia depiction of a place and all that exists within it. It is not strictly tangible; it also includes emotion and meaning. A deep map is both a process and a product—a creative space that is visual, open, multi-layered and ever changing. Where traditional maps serve as statements, deep maps serve as conversations.”

The idea that guides the project is “the dependence of place and all that exists within it.” The concept is one of layers of small rural places, which include geography, plant life, and history.   The importance of stacking data is for depth of information and possible convergence of data sets.


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