Since our maps are made for an undergraduate research class, we cannot possibly be as in-depth and comprehensive as we would if we had years to work and collect data and find specific coordinates. Due to the nature of Gulag accounts, it’s difficult enough to find the camps in which survivors remember making music, and additionally, more difficulties arise when trying to find the exact location of each camp. Many of them were destroyed post-Stalin as a way to indicate disapproval of the mass incarceration and murder of millions of people. The locations prove difficult to find, and so do specifics about the music and people involved in music making at those locations. Everything is grey. Nothing separates well into black and white. So, how can I show so much uncertainty in my maps without sacrificing credibility and reliability?
Honestly, I’ve no idea. I’ve resorted to googling “how to show uncertainty in maps,” asking digital humanists that we’ve skyped in class, and combing through many cartographers journals to try and find answers that a) could make sense to me, a wee little undergraduate, and b) could be utilized in my maps. Not only do I have a lack of endless opportunities in mapping platforms, but I also have a lack of skill and knowledge regarding the tools that I do have available to me in the mapping platforms I know how to use. Logically, I know that I will find some semblance of an answer to these questions and issues in time, but it seems daunting to begin with.
As far as literal interpretations of data go, I could use fuzzy boundaries, shaded areas, and things of that nature. Plenty of visual cues and ways of representing the data exist, as shown on this visual representations site (one of many). The issue, however, is that almost every piece of data I have is so non-specific that my map would look like a ridiculous furry monster. I do not want to make a furry monster. The alternative, prose, goes against the idea that maps should make arguments that prose cannot.
I think that at this point in my process, I’ve decided that I would rather make an immersive experience (at least to start with) and then go from there. Eventually, I hope to conduct some more in-depth research and find concrete locations, names, and repertory, but for now the oral histories written down just cannot provide me with that information. I do believe that they are the best source of information because they illuminate private instances of music making along with public performances in the camps. Somewhere, there’s probably a few sources in English that will help more, but I’m not sure that I have the time or resources to find them and catalog them within the next three weeks.
Overall, I think that the uncertainty must be explained through prose. I have no problem with this, or any inclination to withhold information with the intent of displaying it through my *impressive* mapping capabilities (what hubris that would be!). In the future, I hope to create another post detailing my specific maps with images, in order that you may see the uncertainty I hope to map.