Mapping the Intersection Between Social Media and Open Spaces in California

Recently, Stamen launched, a project created in partnership with the Electric Roadrunner Lab, with the goal of revealing the diversity of social media activity that happens inside parks and other open spaces in California. In Stamen’s words:

Stories pour out of our parks every day. This project is a first step towards visualizing Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and Foursquare content using the actual boundaries of our parks, so that we can start to understand how people feel about their favorite open spaces. Taken together these stories make plain that parks are integral to the lives of all Californians. They are evidence for the argument that access to open space must be protected and expanded— for all— and that parks need our support. This is also a tool that park rangers, managers, and advocates can use to understand how people are using parks and to connect with their customers and supporters.

The project’s original concept came from writer and educator Jon Christensen, editor of BOOM! A Journal of California, and his Electric Roadrunner Lab. Jon sees this work as a gift to the parks and park visitors, an experiment about learning who is using the parks and how. It’s the start of a conversation about how we use open spaces in this screen-mediated age. Parks, it turns out, aren’t just places where you get away from your everyday life and connect with nature. They’re also places of deep social meaning and engagement with others, and this project is a way of taking a new look at how we do that in the age of mobile everywhere. Our hope is that this project helps park rangers and staff to see your stories, and to clearly show how people are using and enjoying parks across California.

Images and words courtesy of Stamen Studio