I love maps, especially those that are interactive. Often times, I find myself pouring over them and distracting myself from my actual work.However Stephen Mamber’s article, Narrative Mapping, was the perfect excuse to reevaluate some of my favorite online maps. As I began reading the article, I was pigeon holing narrative maps as strictly narratives represented as maps, however who’s to say that maps can’t tell a story?
I’ve been comparing Mamber’s overview of narrative maps and their qualities to one of my favorites: The Map of Metal. The map “visually represents” an “underlying database” (147) by creating as interactive world of 20+ genres of metal, layering audio, visual and historical information on each genre.In Mamber’s article, he states:
Aspects can be teased out, grouped, color coded, abstracted, or otherwise reformulated, for the sake of offering some new perspective or approach. Mapping is clearly an interpretation, so it can be a kind of textual analysis-a reading as much as a mapping. (147)
The Map of Metal is both fictionally geographic and temporal. Each user can create their own interpretation, or their own “textual analysis”, as you scroll through the fictional Middle Earth-esque map. There is a time axis across the top that categorizes the many genres by year, and there is also a legend that categorizes the genres by primary, metal, fusion and related. This allows the user to map the development of metal in a whole new way. As you discover each category, there is a basic history given, and a list of influential bands and accompanying videos of each band. Users can immerse themselves in all things metal, allowing their own narrative to unfold as they explore the map, and the histories of each genre.
Mamber also states that “narrative mapping is a useful tool for dealing with complexity, ambiguity, density, and information overload” (157). This is especially true while dealing with genres and sub genres of music. The Map of Metal is a navigable space, and makes overwhelming information not only palatable, but easy to digest. Narrative maps create an easily explored world so users can thoroughly involve themselves in the information, and full interact with the story being told.