While I have neglected this blog, I have not neglected the maintenance and improvement of the map :).
I created the book map app at the end of 2014. 6 years later it now has 152,195 books mapped to 18,945 discrete places. When it comes it enabling hyper-local reading recommendations, the database is still only scratching the surface.
This progress is possible because of users who have suggested books so I want to say a sincere thank you to these people. Suggestions are as welcome now as ever.
Kind regards, Alex
The book map interface has been refreshed with ‘proper’ country and region outlines that can be selected to find books set in them. If you zoom right in you will be shown the individual locations.
There are now more than 90,000 books on the map, a large part of those books have been added directly by users, so thank you to those of you who have been adding your favourite place-specific books to the map!
Mappit now includes a framework for creating and hosting participatory maps for consultation projects and community mapping. It allows users to quickly and easily create their own custom map layer, to which others can subsequently contribute.
The intended application is for one-off consultation projects and niche interests with a spatial element such as local community and local advocacy groups. Participatory maps can benefit these groups and their stakeholders by helping to inform people about what exactly is being proposed and gives people a chance to contribute and unambiguously communicate their own views and concerns via the map. The goal is to provide only those core features that users need to facilitate discussion and the dissemination of information using maps.
This map allows stakeholders to comment and vote on pre-highlighted features and issues and also allows them to draw their own features to describe issues they regard as important to the discussion.
Clicking on this feature that has been drawn to highlight a footpath brings up more details and comments about the feature.
In this example of a niche interest with a spatial component users can submit the location of mountain bothies in Scotland
Clicking on a feature brings up details, images and comments that have been submitted by users. This feature-level interaction with the map is missing from other similar collaborative mapping apps.
Mappit is currently looking for beta testers and potential case studies with interests in community mapping so if you have a project that could benefit from map-based public discussion please create a layer on the site or get in touch.
A commonly asked question about the book map is ‘What about book X, How can that be mapped?’ Where X is fiction, fantasy or sci-fi book or series.
This answer is often: ‘It can’t’.
Some settings are a poor fit because they are extraterrestrial. Some are left out because they are fantastical and can’t be meaningfully placed on the map. Some great books (and some personal sci-fi favorites) will never appear.
However there are some edge cases which can be mapped. Some fictional places can nevertheless be located to a specific area: e.g Longbourne in Pride and Prejudice (Herefordshire) or fantastic versions of a real-world place can be matched to their real-world inspiration e.g Fourecks in The Last Continent (Australia). There are also cases of deliberate obfuscation of a real place like Laurie Lee with Almuñécar in his Spanish Civil War writing that we now understand better and can locate in the real-world.
The global book map will never be complete, a large majority of books have no loca-specificity to start with (e.g text and reference works). The huge scale of the task further means that some books will always be missing. This leaves two questions…
- How much does incompleteness detract from the map?
- Is there a way of mapping fantastical book settings and is mapping these books meaningful, interesting or useful?
View towards Iona from Isle of Mull, Scotland
This morning was spent visiting exotic places and adding the smaller seas of the world to the bookmap. For those with nautical inclinations, the map now includes the following watery new locations:
Eastern Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, East China Sea, Bismark Sea, Irish Sea, South Sea, Tasman Sea, Adriatic Sea, Coral Sea, Bering Sea, Caspian Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea, South China Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Barents Sea, Caribbean Sea, North Sea.
Heat Map of book distribution. Data from mappit book map and LibraryThing.
How are the settings of books on the book map distributed worldwide? This heat map shows the relative distribution of books globally. The map was made using kernel density estimation in ArcGIS using a dataset of 30,000 books set in 6,000 places from the book map at mappit.net
Central Europe and the United States dominate, if we delve deeper into the data we see that it is a fairly small handful of cities that dominate the map.
Obviously population has a big effect but where are the megacities of the world? Jakarta, Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai? Is this down to bias in the underlying data or are there simply very few books set in these cities?