Mapping an Island

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Mapping Megijima

If you could peer into what I was doing during a random sampling of points in my childhood, most likely you’d come up with a bucket full of moments where I was begging my parents/grandparents to obtain maps, examining maps and being mesmerized at how the buildings, cities, streets and landscapes flowed, or drawing my own maps of cities where I lived, or places I invented.

[HUMAN:NATURE] User Interface Mockup
[HUMAN:NATURE] User Interface Mockup
Perhaps it finally came in handy, as this week we are finished with interviews and working on the mapping element of the [HUMAN:NATURE] project on Megijima. The map will be used as reference to the stories of the citizens, and also as a secondary way to navigate through the stories.

But first we needed some good detail, not only of the buildings, but the farmland, amenities, and natural features of this tiny town and tiny island. While Google Maps is a great resource, you’ll have tough luck finding or easily adding this kind of detail, especially on Megijima. Because of the limitations, and also because we’d like what we do to be as ‘open source’ as possible, we turned to OpenStreetMap, an open source mapping project which is based on contributions from the public.

Well, poor Megi wasn’t in too good of shape in OpenStreetMap, so Johann and I went at it, spending a few days studying the survey maps we obtained from the town leadership, and recalling our own walks around the island, and then inputting all that we knew about this island’s features into the open source map.

Mapping Megijima
Late night Megijima mapping session with Johann

We’re proud to report that little Megijima is in good virtual shape now, with just about every street, building, farm, park, and body of water on the island.

Editing the Megijima Map with Potlach / Open Street Maps
Editing the Megijima Map with Potlach / Open Street Maps

The final mapping step is to apply XML/CSS formatting, which will make it look pretty… look for the ‘pretty version’ in the final application, available on July 20 to coincide with the opening of the Setouchi International Triennale.

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