As an alternative to the conventional mapping techniques in response to a given area some designers opt to illustrate the territories as an Emotive Map or Emotisurvey. Whereas a traditional map is a very analytical and precise approach, usually done as part of a house style as with the OS Maps, this new styling presents the region as less of a clinical place, giving way to the real emotions of the locals about their hometowns and making it seem more real. It shows their opinions, desires and sometimes even their past experiences regarding the area, which brings life into the Emotive Map. I think these maps work really well as in both of the examples I looked at, the responses given by the local community were both taken forward to help improve upon the area in reply to what they stated. This leads to the communities being improved by the people in them as opposed to an uncaring response by the government.
Emotive Maps – Malvern (Stevenson, 2012)
The Emotisurvey of the town of Malvern was undertaken by Andrew Stevenson back in 2012 and displays the information gathered on an Interactive Website, which is a clear and easily understandable approach. Important information regarding the age of the participants and more specifically their thoughts for any given point along the route is communicated in a simple iconographic way, eliminating the need for being bogged down by a statistical overload.
The wide range of participants were asked to go along the same trail and review all of the 12 specified points on the map with both visual and video responses that were then uploaded onto the website. This information was then reviewed by ‘Route to the Hills’ and the ‘Malvern Hills District Council’ to better improve upon the given area. Aspects such as the Wayfinding signage, public facilities and pathways along the streets were picked up on along with many other points. Switching through the user profiles displays an image of the route that has been colour coordinated depending on the users thoughts upon the given environment. For example, areas that they were particularly unhappy with would be displayed as red and parts where they couldn’t see any room for improvement are displayed as green. For this aspect I think displaying the information, as an interactive map, is the best possible solution.
The only issue I could find with the Emotisurvey was that regarding the videos. Some were far too long and others I found difficult to understand what the participants were saying due to background noise and the recordings being of poor quality. This is something I felt should have been addressed at the start of the project.
Emotive Maps – Stockport (Nold, 2007)
In contrast to the visual display of the Malvern Hills route, the map of Stockport I looked at differs completely in the layout. This was due to the static approach and the avoidance of iconographic imagery. The Stockport map may have been compiled together by one designer but the illustrations were taken from all of the 200 participants that were asked to review the location and sketch anything they felt was appropriate depending on their thoughts of the place. This resulted in the map being an imperfect representation, and alternatively being much more impressionistic. The map itself doesn’t even fit north facing, as you would expect of a traditional map. Instead it has the river Mersey running parallel through the centre of the page. This is due to the river being the biggest resource available to the town of Stockport giving identity and also acting as a county boundary. They’re the features that make Stockport a unique area and as such take centre stage.
Blank space has been filled with handwritten script from the many participants which may be difficult to read if the map was scaled down. I for one had trouble reading the writing on the screen despite zooming the relevant parts in. The file was so large that it lagged the computer down to a depressingly low speed and so I feel the typography has been compromised upon.
In addition, the residents were also asked to state whenever they became particularly attentive to their surroundings, whether for good or bad. These emotional responses were then traced out onto the map for the viewer to follow. I didn’t think this was a very clear concept to understand – emotional responses are indicated by a red cylindrical shape that changes size and colour depending on the scale of the emotions.
From this research Nold discovered that consumerism is among the biggest aspects of town life. When residents were asked to draw people most drew shoppers and when asked of the places they went too, most said they’d rather go to coffee shops over recreational parks. There was also a notable isolation of young people with not enough centres or activities provided for them to go to.
Stockport has since gone through a regeneration scheme known as Future Stockport showing that surveys such as Emotive Mapping can show a real need for improving upon the local community.