Maps: Finding your way

Text Menu

Maps consist of anchors arrayed to assist a reader through the work, usually visual or textual arrays indicating relationships between content and structure. Many "site maps" are merely an indices of nodes within a site--and are thus halfway between a menu with a few major links and a map that conveys information about the structure or placement or content.

Forms beyond the physical

Bernstein describes maps as "visual metaphors" [71]. 25 Ways to Close a Photograph [41]is a striking example of these visual metaphors, as the piece revolves around the anchored map of an old photograph, and the facial connections become metaphors for love and life by virtue of being an anchored map. These metaphors can be spatial, denotative, and connotative. In theory, they could also be taxonomic, indicating the function of the particular node, but this sample did not reveal any instances of taxonomic maps.

Works can incorporate other forms of maps than conventional maps which provide overlays of meaning for the texts:

  • Ferris Wheels [33]presents a text poem commentary within the physical confines of a ferris wheel where the action takes place.
  • The Rainbow Factory [22] presents a two tiered map: readers click on the factory windows on the upper tier for the cover story and the lower tier for the real story.
  • Garnier Fructis [20] and Saturn [60]even have a series of anchor maps on pictures to promote products. Here, however, Saturn uses textual remarks to provide a connotative context, where Garnier uses shorter montage nodes to provide further information and more detailed denotative links. IDEO [24] has a more abstract picture map on submenus. The Pines at Walden Pond [39]shows the entire structure overlaid on an abstraction of a pine branch. These maps do not correspond with a site structure, but have some content mapping: the leather purse in the Saturn street scene leads to information about the car's leather interior.

    Fuddruckers [19] uses what could be called a map in the mystery cheeseburger navigation. The denotative anchors, once they appear, are straightforward. The connection between mousing over the jalapenos to uncover career opportunities or onions to reveal franchise opportunities is ambigiuous at best.

Mapping the whole or a part

Maps can either show an entire structure at once, such as Ferris Wheels [33], or present a series of submaps to show major portions of the works, such as Victory Garden [48].

Other maps show a particular subportion or a partial area to explore:

  • Lexia to Perplexia [43]presents pseudomaps that provide access to other screen or content on the same screen, but that do not provide a guide to the overall structure of the work.
  • Patchwork Girl's [26] Phrenology map shows parts of the brain, but this is a selective anchor map, where only a few of the thoughts are active. The other graphic introductions look like maps, but lead only to one link.
  • Patchwork Girl and Samplers [37]also uses the Storyspace [13] node map for textual implications. Marie Laura Ryan explores this as "many hypertext authors have strived to develop other textual functions for maps. For instance, the map of the section Crazy Quilt in Patchwork Girl is not only a navigational device, it is above all an aesthetic device that mimics the visual appearance of a quilt. [111] "

To reveal the spatial

Maps can lay out a particular fabuliac space:

To function denotatively

Victory Garden's [48]elaborate garden map and submaps denote the major entries into the work as anchors use the node name.

Marble Springs' [36] graveyard and town maps show where people lived or are buried. Marie Laura Ryan notes the connective possibilities in these map series: "Thanks to the cartographic interface, the reader is no longer cast as the external operator of a textual machine, as is the case in most hypertexts, but as an embodied member of the textual world who travels around Marble Springs through the mediation of the cursor. [111] "

Questacon [55] uses a map of the physical museum to give visitors a virtual tour.

Kidbuilding [31] provides a conceptual floor plan map with descriptions of the benefits of each area.

To emphasize connotative functions

Maps themselves can be connotations, as Sand Loves [38] revolves around the Japanses kanji for earth. The entire work is an exploration of the mapping structure, and the earth character holds the primary semiotic key.

Marble Springs [36] provides character connection maps, which depicts personal connections rather than the overall structure of the work. These cryptic path graphics highlight a taxonomic system of connections between the town's denizens.