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Amanda Chandler Dr. Wolff VRMC 11 February 2014 Mapping Untold Stories Denis Wood’s “Everything Sings” inspired this task. Looking back, I wish that I had not included the original college map for each mapping, but instead just have dots for the representations of items to be mapped. It may be difficult to see maps as “narrative atlas” as Wood calls them, or even to make stories of the maps I have created, but the items within the maps are used each and every day by hundreds of people. Since this class, I have looked at the world differently. I see maps where there are none I read into images, diving deeper than the surface. Commercials want me to do more than think about their product. Foot prints in the sand take me on someone’s path. And that is exactly what maps do. They all tell a story; we just have to discover it. To think, every map we have ever encounter has had some underlining emotion, purpose, and story it wants us to hear, to feel. Every week day I spend at least six hours at a small community college in South Jersey. I have spent two years as a student and three yard as an employee, but never have I looked around campus in the manner of mapping. Normally, I give directions to the lost, and maneuver around campus efficiently. Being the youngest in my department by 30 years, I do the physical labor; I run errands which always involves traversing around campus. Mapping the campus was harder than originally thought. I knew the campus. I’ve spent five years here. I have been everywhere, right? How naïve of me to think that. Little did I know, that this mapping project would take much longer than anticipated or the other employees around campus would be a wealth of knowledge, they did not recognize. Now, I want you to think about that last part of that


last sentence. People, were unaware of how meaningful their “silly knowledge� was. At first glance I thought I knew the campus, but when finding out the small specifics, I was quite embossed at my low knowledge. Our world is much bigger, especially when you put the familiar under a microscope.


My first map that I will examine is the AED map. This specific map and my mapping skills were put to the test. Originally, I had only found only four AEDs on campus and was quite surprised by this low number low considering the schools’ 6500 student body. I considered the placement of the AEDs, putting myself in the quality over quantity mindset. There are two in the Physical Education Center, in the College Center and one in Health Sciences. The Physical Education Center is home to athletics and the police academy. The two demographics of students are those who exercise immensely. There is a free, open gym in the Physical Education Center for student and many athletes practice within the gym. The Police Academy students have strict and intense exercise routines that they follow daily. Having the AED equipment so close ensures quick accessibility in case of a cardiac emergency. The College Center is the main building on campus to hold student and eateries (discussed later). Students who spend a majority of their time on campus, have a higher chance of spending their time in the building. It is the building on campus with the largest open floor plan making it ideal to host Student Life events. Lastly, the Health Science building is normally, strictly for the Nursing and Allied Health students. Like the Police Academy, these students need to understand the workings of an AED in order to be better prepared for their degrees and careers. The placement of the AEDs shows how students are able to use them, not only for safety but also as a learning tool. Working late one night, I decided to show one of the Security Officers, that we know as Mike my maps and had him guess. I know the project isn’t meant for stories, but that it what I got out of him. After consulting my map and Mike’s knowledge he knew my map was lying. Isn’t that fun! I thought I had some a good job walking around, but for someone whose job is to check them monthly I was a novice. He informed me that there are 6 AEDs on campus. Many of the AEDs that I missed are located in specific offices within buildings, hidden from plain sight. There is one in the Security Office in Scott Hall and another in the Learning Resource Center. If I had not shown Mike my maps I would be unconsciously lying Mike saved the day. This mistake could have turned into my own unknown personal agenda.


Pictured is Mike showing me the other AEDs


How exciting, restrooms! Bathrooms on campus were a facility I had not thought of intensely. I was actually surprised by my poor knowledge of restrooms locations. All buildings had at least one restroom for females and males, but other locations such as the library had a total of six restrooms. A constant complaint that I hear as an employee is that bathrooms are closed during lunch hours and students have no other locations to use. (enter short rant about how students, including myself, are lazy.) Looking at the map all dots are somewhat close to another. They are come in pairs, arriving two by two.


I also wanted to investigate food and drink options on campus. I thought to map vending machines that carried snacks, and beverages, water fountains and general eateries on campus. For this map I decided to include a legend based on the different dining options. There are three major eateries on campus located in the College Center Cafeteria and another large snack and beverage stand located in the college bookstore. There are vending machines located in all buildings except for Fine Art Center which actually has a rule against bring food and drink into the auditorium. Additionally, areas where a majority of the classrooms are, such as College Center, Scott Hall, and Instructional Center had multiple vending machines. Water fountains appeared to be a bit more awkward, specifically when comparing to the bathroom map. Normally there were at least two water fountains per two bathrooms (female and male), but in many cases there were fountains without bathrooms or in office spaces. Where a majority of student, staff, and facility were a water fountain would be found. While mapping snack, beverages, and eateries I also noticed the amount of seating located around them (not mapped). In every building, except for the Physical Education Center where there were vending machines or water fountains there were large open spaces with high top tables and couches. The food and drink, acted like a watering hole for bodies to gather around. One mistake I have on this map is the lack of an explanation of the legend. While I just picked colors because I had them at hand and it appears to be random, I did not take into the considered the views predispositions to colors when mapping them out. As there is no point of color reference for the legend and map, “…it is not possible to make any connection between colors…” which color hurt the reactions to the maps (Propen 244). Looking back I should have made the Water fountains blue as it is generally associated with water. When I think of black, I think of lines and even death, and that is a connation I personally should have stated away from. My favorite part of this map is how similar the points of interest were to the actual, physical construction of the buildings they were located in. Relatively, they look exactly the like buildings they are housed in.


Gathering information for computers proved to be much more difficult task than anticipated. Mapping exact individual computers and computers labs seemed near impossible. After just completing one building I decided to look for a better option in order to map out the computers on campus. That's where IT and the Help Desk came into play. They gave me access to a database with all the computers and their computer labs on campus. Acting as maps themselves the lists gave me all of the computer serial numbers for computers within computer labs on campus. The map showed all the main sources of technology located on campus. Technology influenced buildings such as Scott Hall, which is mostly designated to science and graphic design majors, consisted of the most computer labs (250 computers total). The Institutional Center had over 300 computers due the amount of department, offices, and classrooms. The College Center and Student Services both had massive amount computers but this could be contributed to the fact that they are mostly faculty and staff offices. Since most computers were placed in offices, in many cases the computer served as a people map rather than just machines. The entire campus map could be made using the computer map, more efficiently than the dinning map I may add. It designates each classroom and office space.


These two maps show the difference in the two Admission employees who give out campus tours. Mike tours the campus clockwise and Ryan tours the campus counterclockwise. I really enjoyed following these two on their tours because they each gave out the tours to their student similar, but yet individualistic. While Mike walks his groups to the Bookstore, Ryan simply point it out. Ryan seems to make his tour an even path, while Mike sometimes retraces steps. For many prospective students Mike and Ryan are the first faces they see on their first time on campus.


Elevators and stairs. These were odd. As for a story, it's where the most accidental trips occur. During winter they are covered in salt and the facilities workers can't keep up with the foot traffic. They show height of buildings. If the building needs an elevator than it must have at least two floors. In fact campus buildings with two floors have an elevator. These machines carry students and employees who are unable to walk up stairs, or are just simply put too lazy to do so. Each elevator has a button to make them accessible from a wheelchair. To build a two story building without an elevator would be to go against an entire population and colleges cannot do that, at least not anymore.


There are blue light emergency telephones on campus. The lights outline the border of the campus. These dots are bit harder to define simply because the lights are placed both inside and outside of buildings. The smudge my concept of the campus and the original map I used to make it. I was able to ask multiple people about my maps on campus. I asked two facility workers, a security officer, and a maintenance worker what this specific map was of. They were able to give me a correct guess. They had achieved the intertextuality of the map. Additionally, as Propen states in “Maps as Visual Objects� this maps not only reflected, but also created renderings on making meaning for those who read the map (237). The Director of Student Life and my mother had no idea what these maps were, but when I showed them to employees who must undergo specific training on them they were able to identify the map almost immediately. While mapping, I could always see another box from the box that I was currently at. Everyday security officers press the buttons to contact the main security office. I am not sure if there is a specific order in which officers go to, but each light is labeled. Why? To make sure they work if someone we're to ever push the button themselves. The blue light map the parking lots, the buildings and other walkways throughout campus. This led me to the creation of another map. (Coming up next!)


I decided to follow one of the guards as they went on their Light Check. Mike, the same officer who assisted me with AEDs offered to let me follow him on his patrol the next afternoon. As I followed I noticed that Mike used specific words, instead of numbers to identify the blue lights. “Scadoo” he said and the other office over the walkie would say “22”. He noted he has only says these things when a specific officer that understood what he was saying was on the other side of the walkie and that he did not use this language with the other officers. I loved this. Semiotics at its finest, and of course unknown to the user. While walking, I also asked him if other officers have the same path as he. He informed me that they do not and that the pathways are supposed to be at random. He however said that has developed a pattern while on blue light duty, and have become a “habitual pathways” for him and many other security officers (Maps of the Everyday, 4). These pathways are created based on the walker who finds meaning and/or safety in their own paths around an area.


The strangest item I decided to map was Christmas trees. Although it is February, I knew that specific departments would be able to tell me where they had put up Christmas trees. What I enjoyed about this mapping, getting firsthand accounts. Some employees gave me perplexed looks, while others answered the questions without hesitation. When I went to the library I was directed to a specific employee. There was an employee who always puts up the Christmas trees. I enjoyed that each building have stories for their trees. Specific people put the trees up every year and decorate them. Some departments made their own ornaments, while others brought in home. The presidential hall had no Christmas during up; I thought that it was strange but assumed that the highest collegiate area would choose not to show any Christmas spirit for the sake of being politically correct. This showed me that seemingly meaningless information was incredibly valuable and those with it, loved sharing it.


The last item I mapped was specifically to help my job. Like I mentioned earlier I walk around the campus everyday doing small tasks (slowly dying inside due to weather and clerical jobs). One the small tasks is hanging up posters for Student Life events, club and campus activities. I hang up outside organization and other departments posters as well. It is my least favorite job descriptor I have acquired. Looking at my map, it is obviously why. The amount of posters that get printer and hung is quite high, with at least one hundred just in the Instructional Center. This map however, will help me is deciding what posters to hang where and keep the task organized. Scott Hall, which holds the science and graphic designers, gets the posters that would appeal to those students. Student Services will receive posters that apply to specific college events for students to take part of in order to enhance their experience. As the University Center, College Center and Instructional Center have classrooms for all majors, these buildings receive posters of every kind throughout. Lastly, the posters in the library have not been under my control since I have started working. The librarians are quite fickle and once verbally harassed me over the accusation of stealing their thumbtacks. Since then, I have not hung a single poster in their building. I thought that it would important to mention that my many of the above statements are my personal opinions. In no way can they be distinguished from looking at the map. Depending on who would look at this map in relationship to having the knowledge of my opinion on them I would receive different responses. Diane, who is well aware of my dislike immediately said, “Wow that’s a lot! Too many.” While Cheryl, said “This is great we can see how many to print.” It was incredibly neat to see the different reactions the maps created. Depending on the experience and the relationship to the map creator the viewer reacted differently. “The purpose of the map and its ability to facilitate spatially based on understanding… maps makes meaning…use of projection” (238) showed that the viewers experience different emotions even while viewing the same map and even more incredible, both projections are correct. This map also maps out the posters’ respective building (pay close attention to the hallow square).


The posters map my route on campus while going around hanging posters. It normally takes between one two 2 hours to hang up my posters. To make this task a bit easier, I tend to stray away from the poster sites on occasion to talk to people and take a break. Shh... don’t tell anyone.


This assignment was not what I was expecting. Being on campus for five years has shown me practically nothing until mapping the campus. The experience was unique and taught be about the habits of our employers and their specific jobs as well as the campus in general. Speaking to employees made the mapping fun. Finding out ways to make my job easily and more efficient. Getting the map used from Public Relations, and a list of computers for IT. The type of mapping I was doing was unheard of for many that I told and simply put, they did not understand it, much like myself in the beginning of this course. These maps are “describing human lives without ever showing ‌any people (Wood).â€? I have begun to see maps everywhere, even when there are none, in keyboards, dinner placeholders, and commercials. Inescapable beauty, surrounding us, telling untold stories.

Mapping Untold Stories  

Hiding stories on a local college campus.