01 December 2014

A serial atlas as crowdsourced mapping

Does every cultural craze get its own volunteered geographic information now? I don't know, but now that the Serial podcast has achieved 'phenomenon' status (fastest to reach 5 million downloads and streams in iTunes history) it has its own crowdsourced maps.

The /r/serialpodcast subreddit has created an arena for the development of maps exploring the story. This atlas of serial maps has generated more than just basic VGI, but also some elegantly designed maps requiring cartographic skill. Some are basic treatments of bing or google maps, others are conceptual, or temporal. And then there are the strictly topological representations.

The atlas also links to the already existing (and jaw-dropping) effort mapping all of the bodies found in Baltimore's Leakin Park. It is bleak stuff, but deserves more attention than it was receiving before this unusual phenomenon emerged.

In many cases the Serial fans are people hoping to better understand the case with an eye to actually solving the murder definitively. For them, the move towards a crowdsourced atlas demonstrates a real appreciation of the importance of space as the connective tissue for what are otherwise difficult to connect facts.

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