Week 8: Mapping Some Pauls

This week I dipped my toes into the world of digital maps and created one on the web. As I acquainted myself with the tools to do this, I couldn't help but compare maps to photographs. Broadly, both distort the world by collapsing three-dimensional space into two and present particular points of view with visual information as the result of conscious and intuitive decisions (to use certain software tools/equipment, to use this dataset over that one, to lock in this view instead of the next). Though we live with constant change, both representations freeze moments in time and space with of arrays of data, and we often believe the results to offer some truth, perhaps finding security in the stasis. (I'm remembering Mimi's comment from class about the grounding nature of maps.) I'm curious about the interplay between maps and photographic imagery. Maybe I'll explore their relationship further this semester, starting with this introductory exercise. 

Building off of the examples we started in class and using the open-source JavaScript library, Leaflet, I challenged myself to embed images into place markers' popup windows. At some point it occurred to me to mark multiple larger-than-life renderings of folklore legend lumberjack, Paul Bunyan (sometimes with his blue ox, Babe) around the United States. Why these roadside attractions? Why indeed? My map depicts only five, but there many, many more. (Paul Bunyan: viral content on a colossal scale?) 

Here's a short recap of my process. First, I figured out how to set the initial map view to the entirety of the country's mainland with latitude and longitude coordinates and the zoom level. Next, and using this demo as a guide, I created variables to hold the image URL addresses which I tied to individual image overlay objects. For each marker, I set the appropriate GPS coordinates and bound to it a popup containing the image URL variable and some text. Of note, I set the image sizes in their URLs to an even 150 pixels each, but I'm sure I could figure how to adjust the size of the popup windows should I ever require larger displays. (All my practice from DWD Online Server came in handy as I mixed HTML, CSS, and Javascript!) Finally, using GitHub Pages, I created a simple website to serve my html file, which you can see here (for now): some Paul Bunyans.