‘0. Mapping test’ Category

A few things we learned thanks to the Issue Safari

December 21st, 2012

On December 12 2012, the EMAPS project organized its first Issue Safari.
Such workshop was an improved version of the seminar we organized in June 2012. In both cases the objective was to submit some of a set of maps we had prepared on the theme of aging in UK to the evaluation of a selected group of potential users.
The first workshop had been very interesting, but had also revealed the great difficulty of finding a common ground between mappers and users. Users were very critical on several aspects: from the choice of the research questions, to the datased employed, from the visualisations employed to the legibility of the maps (see emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1329).
In order to overcome this difficulty, we started a new process of interaction with the users (described here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1701, here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1728 and here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1754). This process helped us to produce a more effective set of maps and to identify a groups of users potentially more interested in our visualisations. The December Issue Safari was the result of this process.

I think it is fair to say that the Issue Safari has been a success in the sense that we have greatly improved the adaptation between users and maps. Most users found most maps relevant and engaged with them in interesting ways. This allowed us to collect a richer user-feedback that we will now be able to re-invest in the case study of climate change adaptation.

Drawing on a very detailed set of notes collected during the Safari by the facilitator of the Young Foundation and compiled by Lucy Kimbell, I have prepared the following synthesis of the lessons we learnt during this workshop


Preparing for the EMAPS workshop in Oxford

October 14th, 2012

Lucy and I have been preparing for the next workshop on the developing maps to be held in Oxford on Friday (12th October). In addition to our lead ‘user’, we have invited four health and social care professionals, who are all experts in their fields (policy, volunteer organisations, advocacy, arts).

The aim of the session is threefold: (1) elicit discussion about what maps are useful and for what purposes, (2) observe, listen, record and synthesize information about the use and purpose of maps and (3) ascertain “what these maps do” for these people and how they could use them.

The way we intend to achieve these objectives involves three stages:

- Present each core question on which the maps are based

- Discuss what this core question/issue means to health and social care professionals. ie.How it matters to their work? How and in what ways it matters to their colleagues?

- Show the map/s and set a group task in which participants are asked to use the map to ascertain directions/ outcomes. Further discussion will be encouraged.

We will be documenting the workshop in various ways; notes, audio, video and still photos.

Operationalization of research questions on Ageing

August 22nd, 2012

Here you’ll find some ideas on how to operationalize the question proposed by Lucy and Kat working with the test-user.

For each question, you’ll find below
a) one or more rephrased versions of the question that we can actually answer – the “actual questions” (as Michele calls them)
b) a short description of the data that can be used to answer each actual question
c) what we need to to do collect the data for the map and who should/could do it
d) some explanation of the above

As you’ll probably noticed, I haven’t made explicit which maps will be designed based on the data that I propose to collect. The reason is that this is something that London and Milan have to decide by discussing with the test-user.
What I need you to do ASAP:
- London: validate with the test-user that the proposed operationalization makes sense and tell me if you can provide the resources described below and when.
- Amsterdam: tell me if you can collect the data as described below and how long could these take.
- Milan: start thinking about the visualizations that you could draw with the data described below and tell Paris and Milan if you need the data to be collected in any ‘special’ way/format

1. What is living well as older person / with dementia?

1.A.i) Actual question: which are the resources (human/material/institutional…) that help people living well with dementia?
1.B.i) Data: hyperlink network of the websites cited by blogs of people suffering from dementia or caring for them
1.C.i) What we need: if London or the test-user knows some of these blogs please give Paris the urls (but we can easily found them ourselves). A part from that, Paris can do collect the data in three weeks from now.
1.D.i) Explanation: What I understand, drawing on Kat’s ethnographic work, is that dementia is much more than a medical disease – it is a whole way of life. Learning to live with dementia requires transforming many crucial relationships (with one’s house, with public institutions, with the city, with friends and family and so on). The map I would like to propose to provide some answer to this question is a classic hyperlink map. As I recently discovered, there are several blogs written by people suffering from dementia or caring for them. I think, it would be interesting to find out which websites are most cited by these blogs. Do they cite among themselves and recognize as a community? Do they cite institutional websites and if so which pages exacly? Do they cite commercial services, ngos, local communities…?

1.A.ii) Actual question: what are the aspects that are most discussed about dementia?
1.B.ii) Data: Heatmap of the modifications/reverts on the wikipedia pages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dementia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer%27s_disease
1.C.ii) What we need: Amsterdam should be able to collect the data.
1.D.ii) Explanation: This is a difficult question for controversy mapping, because living with dementia involves many difficulties, but little explicit controversy. However, I think that it remains interesting to identify which issues connected to aging/dementia/alzheimer are most discussed about and I believe that Wikipedia is a good place to search for this information. The data we will find may be interesting or not, but it is impossible to know without trying. Therefore, I propose that we try.

2. What are the public health and social care messages about ageing and dementia?

2.A.i) Actual question: Which linguistic expressions are most frequently used by edifferent public health and social care institutions when talking about ageing and dementia?
2.B.i) Data: Occurrence of the most frequent expressions in a corpus of messages about ageing and dementia issued by public health and social care institutions.
2.C.i) What we need: London should provide Paris and Amsterdam a set of documents about ageing and dementia issued by public health and social care institution. This set does not need to be huge: 15-30 well chosen documents would be perfect. For each of the documents we need to know: who published it (which institution) and what is its the subject (ageing or dementia). After receiving this corpus, Paris can extract the data in about one week.
2.D.i) Explanation: Since the original question was about the ‘messages’ delivered on ageing and dementia, I believe that a classic text analysis exercise can provide interesting results. The results however will be more interesting the more the corpus is representative. Ideally, what we need is the one or two documents in which the position of a given institution is expressed in its most representative way. And we need to have all the relevant institutions. The documents should be equivalent in size and preferably not too long (rather than a 200 pages report on dementia where anything can e found, it is much better to have the 10 summary pages where the most important messages are delivered).

2.A.ii) Actual question: Which linguistic expressions co-occur most often with the words ‘ageing’ and ‘dementia’ in public health and social care messages?
2.B.ii) Data: Co-occurence of linguistic expressions in a corpus of messages about ageing and dementia issued by public health and social care institutions.
2.C.ii) What we need: same as 2.B.i but this time it is Amsterdam that should do the data extraction.
2.D.ii) Explanation: This data resembles a lot the data described just above, but with a crucial difference. Instead of focusing on which institutions use which expression, we focus on which expression appears next to the word ‘ageing’ and ‘dementia’ in the whole corpus. It is difficult to say know if both of the approaches will be interesting, but once again there is no other way than trying and see what comes out.

3. Are older people assets or deficits (ie a drain on society)? (A cross cultural comparison)

3.A.i) Actual question: In different European web-spheres, what are people talking about when they talk about older people?
3.B.i) Data: Issues associated with aging in different European countries.
3.C.i) What we need: Starting from the the map of aging-related issues for the first London test (https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B4a4mDb99e7Hc18wRjNKWFRzZEE), Amsterdam should decide for each issue is it is ‘positive’ (older people seen as assets), ‘negative’ (older people seen as deficits) or ‘neutral’. Also, it would be nice is Amsterdam could identify issues that are present in more than one country (or that are very similar in different countries).
3.D.i) Explanation: Since it is difficult to decide which expressions translate a given concept in different language, cross-cultural comparisons cannot be performed through an automatic text analysis. More than linguistic expressions. I think that we need to concentrate here on the ‘issues’ that are discussed in different countries. I can’t see a good reason we shouldn’t start from the work that Amsterdam did for the first London test on the map of aging-related issues. This was already a good dataset and it only need to be enriched as described above.

3.A.iI) Actual question: In different European web-spheres, which images are used to picture older people?
3.B.iI) Data: Images associated with aging in different European countries.
3.C.iI) What we need: If Amsterdam can mail me the exact queries they used for their map of aging-related issues, we can reuse them in Paris (but we can also do find the query ourselves). Paris can collect the data in three weeks from now.
3.D.iI) Explanation: Another way to avoid the multi-language translation problem is to focus on images instead. Images also have the advantage of being more easily and quickly readable. For the same European countries as above, we can use different national google and different query languages to obtain images that are representative of aging in different cultures. The results will be interesting especially if cultural differences are easily visible (but we will know only after trying).

These are the question that can be operationalized right away (and probably we can complete all the dataset collection in about one month).
Data collection on these questions could produce 6 different dataset (which will probably translate in more than 6 maps). This means that if all proposed operationalizations seem interesting to the test-user, we could stop here as we have enough material for the issue Safari.

However, there are other question in Lucy and Kat documents that are possibly interesting, and that we may consider to operationalize. They are listed below with some discussion. If Kat can provide more information, it would be helpful to decide what to do.

4. What is considered good evidence about the needs of older people and the impact of services/policy?
I am sorry but I still don’t understand this question. Kat, can you explain better?

5. Who is funding dementia research and who/what is funded ?
This is a very good question and one that is easy to visualize. However, I doubt that the data exist somewhere. Kat, if you know where to find these data, we’ll be more than happy to work on them.

6. What are the key research issues?
This is classic scientometrics question and we do have the tools to answer it by analyzing the scientific literature. However, the results risk to be very complicated to read because they will certainly includes a lot of scientific jargon. If this is not a problem and if the analysis of scientific literature is really interesting for the test-user, we can collect this data (but it will be difficult and it will take a lot of time). Kat, Lucy, this is your call.

7. How are health and social care programs evaluated? Methods? Outcomes? What metrics are used by key actors?
This is certainly an interesting and probably also controversial question, but is a very difficult one, as I see no other way to answer it then interviewing different institutions and asking them how they evaluate their programs. This operationalization, though interesting, would require too much time. I propose therefore to drop the question unless anyone has a better idea on how to operationalize it.

8. How are older people’s mobilities linked to wellbeing? Ie. loss of a driving license is a trigger point for isolation, depression, loneliness, ill health.
This is interesting. I propose that we keep an eye on the websites/expressions related to ‘driving’ when working on question 1 and 2. For the moment, I can tell if this will give something interesting, but it may.

9. How do/have different generations prepare/d for end of life/care?

This is a huge question. Even if we drop the inter-generational comparison (which is almost impossible to do on the web). Death is as an issue as big as Aging itself and the two overlaps but may also be very different (think of the death symbolism in music/movies). I propose to drop this question for it is to huge. However, if someone comes up with some clever operationalization (this is typically what Richard excel at), I am ready to change my mind.


Linking controversy maps with stakeholder needs

July 4th, 2012

In our meeting in London we discussed about the addressees of the emapping products. The workshop on ageing gave some first impressions how people react to the maps and how they might be used in providing information and in decision-making processes. This can be the starting point for the identification of stakeholder needs and especially decision-maker needs in the climate change adaptation strand of the project.
Decision-makers in the area of climate change adaptation can be found at all spatial levels:

  • global/international: development policies, funding adaptation measures, adaptation vs. mitigation etc.
  • national: development of national adaptation strategy, allocation of adaptation funds in highly vulnerable areas (hot spots), identification of vulnerable sectors (water, biodiversity, urban development, agriculture, …) etc.
  • regional: appropriate design and selection of adaptation measures such as lowering the urban heat island effect by supporting networks of green areas, water, cold air streams (examples: London, Paris, Ruhr area); support freshwater supply for new housing and industrial development (example: South East England); avoid future development in climate-triggered extreme events like flash floods or river flooding (example: PPR – Plans de Prévention des Risques Naturels in France or implementation of the EU Floods Directive at river catchment areas)
  • local: urban design and management, adapt cities to climate change (e. g. parks, green roofs, avoid development in hazard-prone areas), smart growth etc.

EMAPS project partners have access to various stakeholders in some of the Member States and throughout Europe due to their participation in various projects at the European (e. g. ESPON Climate or MOUNTAIN RISKS), national (comparison of national adaptation strategies), regional (regional climate change adaptation strategies) and local level (urban development strategies for climate change adaptation).

The CHANGES project which runs in parallel to the EMAPS project is promising in this respect, too, as it will be carried out in four European case study areas (France, Italy, Poland, Romania) with decision-makers, the public and research teams involved. These groups could be involved into the iterative development process of mapping climate change controversies, especially in the following steps:

  • identification of users (regional, urban decision-makers, the public, researchers)
  • dissemination of maps (by EMAPS project)
  • re-interpretation of maps (by users)
  • collection of feedback (incl. user needs)
  • use in decision-making practice (by users again)

Dortmund will be able to set up contacts between EMAPS and CHANGES as both projects seem to be complementary to each other very much. According to the lessons learnt from the London workshop on ageing the case study approach seems to be promising as people find visualisations more interesting when they map a territory that they already know and local maps seem to be more interesting than global maps.
The structure of the CHANGES project as a Marie Curie Action offers another interesting opportunity for co-operation as the visualisation and communication of environmental changes is subject of three post-doc positions that are potentially interesting for EMAPS project partners and members of the research teams:

  • Development of risk communication and visualisation tools: This post-doc position is oriented to the development of software tools for risk communication and visualisation which could either be web-based or more oriented to innovative communication tools such as planning games. The post-doc will work closely together with PhD students that provide the components for these tools and with both full network partners as private companies specialised in software development. Vacancy announcement: http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/jobs/jobDetails/33789674 (application deadline: 25 July 2012).
  • Development of web-based tool for probabilistic risk assessment of geohazards: The objective of this post-doc position is to develop and implement a tool for probabilistic risk assessment of geohazards (landslides, floods) in a web-based environment, including the design of a multi-hazard Spatial Data Infrastructure. Vacancy announcement: http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/jobs/jobDetails/33791493 (application deadline: 31 July 2012).
  • Development of web-based decision support tool for risk management: The objective of this post-doc position is to develop a web-based decision support tool for risk assessment of hydro-meteorological hazards (landslides, floods). Vacancy announcement: http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/jobs/jobDetails/33791493 (application deadline: 17 August 2012).

Ageing mapping – Next steps

June 14th, 2012

The ageing workshop took place yesterday. We have received a lot of interesting critiques to our maps (see my previous post for some lessons that I have learnt), which is precisely what we were looking for. And that is why I think we can call it a success. This does not mean, of course, that our maps were perfect. It just means that now we know how to improve them.

In particular, two critiques seem crucial:
1) examples on how to explore / make sense of the maps are necessary
2) the mapping process should be closely informed by the interests of its addressees
According to these two remarks, we made two main decisions concerning the following of the work on aging.

Development of a ‘demonstrator’ of how to explore a controversy

June 2012. London will ask one of the issue-professionals that participated in today workshop (and seemed more willing to engage in the project) to provide us a few (5-6) research questions that he/she finds interesting. London will provide these questions and a detailed description of the person and his/her activities to Paris and Amsterdam.

June 2012. On the basis of these information, Paris and Amsterdam will identify one or two methods that they think they can use to provide some element of answer to the questions of the issue-professional. These mapping ideas will be transmitted to London which will validate their interest with the issue-professional. Modifications may be proposed by the issue-professional.

July 2012. Paris and/or Amsterdam will collected the data, analyze them and realize a first sketch of the maps. The sketches will be transmitted to London, which will validate their interest with the issue-professional. Modifications may be proposed by the issue-professional.

August 2012. The sketches of the maps will he transmitted to Milan together with a detailed description of 1) how the data have been collected and analyzed to design the maps, 3) how the maps should be read and interpret to answer the questions of the issue-professional. Milan will re-design the maps and produce a little atlas conveying all previous information in a way that is adapted to its addressees.

September 2012. London will show the atlas to the issue-professional and accompany him/her and his/her staff in the exploration of the maps. A detailed feedback from the user experience will be collected.

October 2012. Milan (with the help of Amsterdam and Paris) will use the feedback from the users and the information collected throughout all the process to produce the final ‘maps exploration demonstrator’ (probably in the form of a short video).

Issue Safari

June 2012. London will identify 3 or 4 categories of professionals of the ageing issues. London will prepare a short description of each of these categories, specifying the kind of questions that they may be interested in and the kind of maps that they may find useful. If possible, this descriptions will be prepared with or validated by an exponent of each category.

June 2012. Discussing with London, Paris and Amsterdam will identify a few methods that they think they can use to develop maps that can be useful for each category of issue-professionals.

July-August 2012. Paris and/or Amsterdam will collected the data, analyze them and realize a first sketch of 5-6 maps. The sketches will be transmitted to London, which will validate their interest (if possible in collaboration with the issue-professional).

September-October 2012. The sketches of the maps will he transmitted to Milan together with a detailed description of 1) how the data have been collected and analyzed to design the maps, 3) how the maps should be read and interpret to answer the questions of the issue-professional. Drawing on the experience acquired working on the ‘demonstrator’, Milan will re-design the maps and produce 3-4 atlases (one for each category of issue-professionals) conveying all previous information in a way that is adapted to its addressees.

November 2012. London will organize 3-4 workshop (one for each category of issue-professionals). In each workshop, 15-20 issue professionals of a given category will be invited to a 3 hours ‘issue safari’. The safari starts with the display of the ‘maps exploration demonstrator’, which will give participants a first idea of what it is to explore an issue map. Then, divided in small groups, participants will be accompanied in the exploration of the atlas developed for them by a facilitator from the Emaps team. Feedback of the user experience will be collected.

Ageing workshop – lessons learnt

June 14th, 2012

This is a short list of lessons that I learnt in yesterday thanks to the fantastic ageing workshop organized by Young Foundation. You are welcome to correct/modify this list, this will be extremely useful for the rest of the project.

  • Visual difficulties are the first obstacles to engaging with the map. People ignore maps when
    • Font size is too little
    • Too many items are presented at the same time
  • People get frustrated when they don’t understand
    • Exploration should start from simpler maps (it is possible to move to very complex maps but gradually)
    • Examples of how to explore the maps should be provided
  • In order to engage with the map people need and ask for
    • Information on how the map has been designed (where data come from, how they have been treated…)
    • Explanation on why the map was designed (what is the research question)
    • Explanation on why the map is shown to them (some elements of interpretation must be provided)
    • Evidence that the maps is scientifically sound (within limits that have to be defined clearly)
  • People don’t want to look at maps, they want to explore them
    • In order to engage with the maps the people need time (the number of maps should be limited
    • People are willing to interact with the maps (ex. zooming, comparing…)
    • People are willing to correct/contribute to the maps
    • People would like to have more information on specific items of the maps
  • People finds visualizations more interesting when they map a territory that they already know
    • Local maps are more interesting than global maps
    • People with different expertise should be drawn to different maps
  • The most salient visual variables are (in the order)
    • Size (a lot)
    • Position (somewhat)
    • Color (not so much)
  • The map are appealing objects that capture the attention of the people
    • Beauty risks to distract from usefulness
    • Titles, captions and legends are generally ignored, attention has to be drawn on them

Where we are, where we are going

June 9th, 2012

The London workshop will not start until next Wednesday, but I already want to express great satisfaction for process that led to this event. In a handful of months, we identified a number research questions, we collected and analysed the data necessary to provide some answers, we visualised the results of the analysis and we are now ready to share our maps with a real public. On a small scale, we already proved the worth of our consortium.
And there’s more: next week event is only a small test compared to the exhibition we will organise in London in the next fall, which in turn is only a small test of the online/offline platform we will develop on climate adaptation.

During the kick-off meeting, I said that our project is complex because it is experimental. I think we have found the good organisation to tame such complexity. The circle displayed in the image below (courtesy of Axel) describes the iterative process of questions-data-visualisations-tests that characterize EMAPS. What is most remarkable about this circle is that it reaches further every time we go through it. More then to a circle, our project resembles to a spiral where every coil delivers better maps and engages more people.
Accordingly, the success of EMAPS depends crucially on our capacity to multiply the iterations among ourselves and with our publics. To use a slogan borrowed from software development: “release early, release often!”

Acknowledging the spiralling nature of EMAPS transforms slightly but decisively the goal of the second day of our London meeting (see page 7 and 8 of the survival kit sent by Axel). At this stage, the priority is not to decide once and for all the precise focus of our project, but to set the mapping spiral into motion. What we need is to identify a first set of adaptation maps that are both interesting and relatively easy to produce.
To facilitate our work, I drafted a list of potential research questions and maps (see page 10-12 of the kit). Our goal for Thursday is to complete this list (because I certainly forgot something important) and agree on the interest and feasibility of each of the proposed maps.

This assessment will be the basis for the work of following months, which will consist in developing a first set of maps to submit to a first sample of public in order to produce better maps to submit to a larger audience and so on and so forth. So the spiral goes, so the project advances…


April 13th, 2012

1. Summary:

The Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) is one of the entities involved in the European research project ‘Electronic Maps to Assist Public Science’ (EMAPS). During the last week of March 2012 the Digital Methods Initiative held the EMAPS workshop “Ageing Places” at the University of Amsterdam. The workshop was designed to provide a space for Amsterdam-based researchers and motivated students to explore together the issue of Europe’s ageing population and how it is being distributed, formatted, framed and diversified across cultural, institutional and geographical borders. The result was a week of inspiring talks and presentations in combination with intense analytical and technical hands-on research.

Present at “Ageing Places” were the Initiative’s director Richard Rogers, workshop coordinator and researcher Natalia Sanchez Querubín, DMI researchers Erik Bora, Bernhard Rieder, Marieke van Dijk and Simeona Petkova. Invited participant students were Aleksandra Kil, Demet Dagdelen, Chris Mead, Ave Tampere and Anne Laurine Stadermann. Guest speakers, representing other participant institutions in EMAPS, were Will Norman and Lucy Kimball from the Young Foundation in London, Tommaso Venturini from the Sciences Po in Paris and Donato Ricci and Michele Mauri from the Design Density Lab in Milan

The following account includes descriptions of the presentations and the two projects that were completed during the workshop.


Visualizing processes

March 26th, 2012

Each year we ask our students to visualize the protocol they followed.

We think that visualizing the way we collect data is important as representing the data itself: “how do you get this results”? is one of the most common questions that arise. Process communication is the first step to gather credit from our audience.

Each protocol isn’t a linear process: parts of it are “dead-ends”, they are experiments by which we try to understand if they’re or not useful for our purposes. Some visualizations simplify the process, removing the dead-end paths, and focusing on the final result. Some others represent all the work done, showing errors useful to identify the right solution. We choose some of them as examples of different way to visualize a protocol. (more…)

Workshop: Ageing Places.

March 25th, 2012












The Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) is organizing the workshop Ageing places from the 26 to the 29th of March at the University of Amsterdam. We chose as the theme for the workshop the issue of ageing and its relations to place. (more…)