Though we have been making maps throughout the month, it is only this past week when we have been instructed to finish up our research on the various areas of the life of Harry T Burleigh and begin constructing our final maps and project. The students have been divided up into specializations in the attempt to keep us focused and not spread too thin as we push into the final week. I have been designated as one of the mapmakers, which is exciting because showing off a map can be exciting, almost more like sharing a work of art than sharing a research paper.

So far my time as one of the mapmakers has been spent combing through forums and tutorials on how to make really nice maps on arcGIS Online, searching for historical maps, and helping the other students decide just how they want to display their story or data, always keeping in mind good design principles. It took some time for people to really nail down just what they want their maps to look like, which has given me time to hone my skills on arcGIS Online and become more efficient at mapmaking. Here’s an early example of one of the maps that will be on the project page early next week.

It is difficult to make a map, because it is important to know what sort of message you want to convey and exactly what you want to show. If you go in to make a map without a clear idea of the finished product, it will come out unclear. Starting with a map that is simple like this one can be helpful to build up your skills, and it is easier to make multiple maps than to try to fit everything in all at once. Make sure you are communicating with all of the other specializations to know exactly what you are going for. Map-making can be fun and rewarding, but requires careful skill and strong visualization skills. Here’s hoping the finished products next week apply all these principles!