In the wake of World Water Day (water puns for the win!), we’re plotting this Map of the Week using CartoDB + OdysseyJS to characterize rivers, and chapterize learning about location via Mexico’s Mississippi: Rios Lerma y Santiago. Read on for more about this rad approach to our understanding of environment, Latin America, and running a river through episodic narrative!
Chris Reed is a CartoDB collaborator, and long-time friend of open mapping. He’s from Houston, TX, which is home to some 27 Super Fund sites and myriad wampy juxtapositions of nature and industry. Regarding rivers, he developed a website for the Van Alen Institute’s Lower Mississippi River Delta design competition Changing Course, which in part inspired the Odyssey.js work to follow. We welcome him in this guest Map of the Week post to let him tell us about how he is using CartoDB to learn about river context and watershed wisdom.
“Know your watershed,” a wise friend once quipped to me. While I agree with the intention, that’s much easier said than done.
I was reading the catalog for this year’s Enivronmental Film Festival in Washington D.C. and saw a blurb for a documentary about the Santiago River in Mexico. Curious to learn more, I watched the trailer and did a little research. Studies, stories and descriptions from up and down the river hadn’t been comprehensively synthesized anywhere that I could find. I figured this river might be a good subject for me to try out Odyssey.js and, who knows, maybe this gringo might help raise some awareness of a pretty severe environmental situation.
As you likely well know, most rivers have many sources. But as far as I understand, the Santiago is quite linear, albeit not straight, so I was able to organize the narrative into consecutive steps from Almoloya to the Pacific. Though I am quick to do all sorts of back-end and front-end development, I focused on shaping and focusing the narrative as well as providing links and context. Tech-wise, I realized that by minimizing changes in zoom between the slides, I could ensure continuous animated transitions.
For this map, a layer to highlight the river and its basin would focus the visuals as would adding more markers to some of the slides. For Odyssey.js, a plugin for sourcing and embedding media with latitude and longitude via API integrations would be very cool especially in the context of a publishing platform that integrated a crowd-sourcing workflow. Imagine if a watershed organization could source and situate media from across their community through services like Flickr, Soundcloud, etc.
If you’re interested in reading more on the Santiago River Basin see the Santiago Odyssey project website. Chris also once helped build an interactive map of NYC street trees with CartoDB’s Andrew Hill and a few other very talented people at a DataKind event. In 2013, he started a digital studio called SEEREAD.info where he works all sorts of interactive magic, and you can reach out to him there!
Here are some other references to inform this post and its topic:
Try CartoDB today to create amazing map narratives like this with your data; check out our past Maps of the Week, and all our awesome docs related to Odyssey.js to build your knowledge of our narrative library!
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