Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Mapping Spike Lee's New York

Spike Lee has set a large number of his movies in his home city of New York. Red Bull are celebrating this fact with an interactive strip map, New York Through the Lens of Spike Lee, which looks at some of the locations around the Big Apple where the director has shot scenes for his movies.

The map not only allows you to discover locations which feature in Spike Lee's movies but also lets you view the relevant clips from the films directly from the map. The map also includes an animated polyline and map labels which indicate which Spike Lee films were shot at those locations.

The map uses an effective navigation device which requires the user to simply scroll down the web-page. As you scroll you are taken on a linear north to south journey through Spike Lee's New York. This method of map navigation works well when you only have a linear path to plot on your map.

On my monitor there is a slight problem with the Spike Lee map when the plotted path makes a west to east detour through north Brooklyn. At this point the path disappears off the top of the screen. However you can still scroll back-up on the map to select the markers in north Brooklyn.

This method of linear scrolling on a map owes a lot to the traditional strip map. It is a little surprising that we don't see more interactive strip maps on the internet. The browser, with its often linear scrolling method of navigation, seems to lend itself rather well to the strip map format. However interactive strip maps on the web seem to be few and far between.

Propublica is one of my favorite examples of an interactive map which makes use of this linear scrolling method common to traditional strip maps. Killing the Colorado takes you on a journey down the Colorado river, exploring how man is engineering the death of this once great river.

As you scroll down the page you follow the course of the river overlaid on a satellite view. On your journey down the river information windows open highlighting some of the water projects that are draining water from the river.

The Propublica map owes a lot of its inspiration to the New York Times' A Rogue State Along Two Rivers. A Rogue State Along Two Rivers explores the rise of ISIS by following the paths of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The interactive story stitches together a series of aerial images of both rivers to create a strip map which you navigate by scrolling down the page.

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