Defining Deep Maps

Last Friday marked the conclusion of the intense two-week NEH institute, which focused on deep maps and spatial narratives. But what is a deep map? The participants provide the following definitions.

Lesley: A source archive united by place or space.  It is the anti-interface, but the deep content behind it. It is what enables the spatial narratives.

Johnathan: A way of experiencing a narrative through multiple kinds of content that leads to a well-developed sense of place.

Anouk: A collection of geo-referenced information which offers multiple perspectives on data which has some sort of relevance to place.

Cameron: I’m defining a deep map as a product (different from a deep mapping process). Deep map as product provides an entry point into a humanistic theme through the lens of place. It offers a wide variety of content (often multimedia) that allows for multiple experiences and interpretations (either temporal or spatial) of the same overarching theme.

Katie: A DM is the act of collecting and the collection of multi varied material and immaterial data/information/knowledge about a particular place (and the place(s) to which it has a relationship) by individuals and groups, etc, including what is believed, remembered, experienced, presumed, feared, desired, rumored (and “forgotten”), and the performing of those (by both users and place)

Don: Deep mapping is an epistemology for studying spatial patterns, processes, or phenomena through the integration of a wide-range of spatially and temporally enabled sources.

Deep map: A collection of interconnected and interrogatable evidential resources that support multiple views and dimensions of interrogation that provide open-ended affordances for enquiry, scholarship and research.
Deep Mapping: the process of constructing or using a deep map

Daniel: A methodology that allow us to combine multiple quantitative, qualitative and multimedia data about a space/place with the purpose of building a spatial narrative

Stuart: A remediation of a set of linked events and processes which require space in order to be meaningful, and which may or may not be discrete.

Mike: A digital worldscape that invites users to investigate and experience real and imagined renderings of places through time and space, with each individual use resulting in a unique spatial narrative that is part of a cumulative and interactive whole.

Mia: A deep map contains geolocated information from multiple sources that convey their source, contingency and context of creation; it is both integrated and queryable through indexes of time and space.

Scott: A deep map is a platform for expressing, exploring, and juxtaposing spatial narratives.

Sharon: an immersive platform for exploring data and information about a place to develop and test research hypotheses, grasp meaning, draw your own conclusions, and present your argument.

David: A dynamic virtual environment that allows users to identify and experience the reciprocal influences of , real and conceptual space on human culture and human events for the purpose of constructing spatial narratives and making spatial arguments.

John C: A depiction of place by means of a spatially-informed display of curated cultural artifacts

Deep Map: A spatially and temporally scaled, contingent, semantically rich, open-ended, integrative, multi-medic, representation that portrays the material, immaterial, and human world (and the meaning of life).

Spatial story: Weaves multiple reflexive pathways through a deep map with a specific goal and outcome in mind that tracks its own history and evolution.


1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    Not to be a stickler but Daniel’s definition of the deep map as a methodology seems too restrictive. A methodology tends to channel investigations into a specific conduit thereby leaving out paradigms and ways of seeing not valuable to its enterprise. I’d argue that interpretation would be a more useful word as interpretations tend to be open-ended affairs–I’m thinking of Theodor Adorno’s argument that an interpretive approach to social analysis facilitates the uncovering the complex social character of any given phenomenon, and allows the researcher the freedom to engage with material in new ways, whereas a methodological approach (positivist or empirical, I suppose) would work to categorize and refer back to general cases, or pre-existing knowledges. Last, deep mapping, at least according to Shanks and McLucas, resists this idea of constructing a privileged narrative (singular) because it is a democratic endeavor that eschews certainty and counts all contributing data as equally important and leaves things open for further consideration. I’m sure that I’m probably reading far too much into Daniel’s brief sentence, but I’m fairly anal.


  1. Esri features Polis storymap - [...] to know more about deep maps? Read this blog that captures definitions and discussions of the workshop [...]

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