Attempting to Map Narratively

In Mamber’s essay on narrative mapping he lays out the method in which one would perform such a task. It made me wonder if the graphs and charts we create as part of surveys we conduct where I work could be a form of narrative mapping or if the actual surveys we conduct could be a narrative map when all the graphs and charts are strung together. Or if the survey process is not quite there yet, but perhaps it is something that could easily become mapped narratively. We do indeed “attempt to represent visually events that unfold over time” (145).  We perform interviews over a series of 2-3 months, sometimes even longer. Additionally, the process of formulating questions is our first step and it takes time to decide by committee which questions to re-use form previous or related studies and create newer questions that might generate new topics to discuss in our survey. We then perform an analysis and when we compile our survey document, which recounts our process and analyzes responses and attempts to draw conclusions, we include pictures and graphs and charts that represent statistics from our survey that can be understood at a glance. Sometimes representing one question visually that has many elements can be tricky. It seems that if we were to attempt to represent the entire survey from beginning to end visually, it would then fit into Mamaber’s criteria. Perhaps a flowchart of the entire process would qualify. Since he says that “narrative mapping is a useful tool for dealing with complexity,. ambiguity, density, and information overload” there is somewhere in this survey process that is ripe for narrative mapping to come in and help make sense of a wealth of valuable information (157). This is a big dilemma we face in conducting these surveys is dealing with the vast amount of data we collect as well as trying to determine how best to represent it visually and prioritize what is important over what may not be. The end part of our process where we attempt to create a narrative around the data we have collected and the process that went into our finding is a complicated one in and of itself. A map would be very helpful in pinning down our process and making sense of it. I wonder if others agree with me that this process or portions of the process I have descibed could fit Mamaber’s definition of narrative mapping