Getting Closer to a Social Mapping Definition

Social mapping is an awkward buzz phrase. Right now, a search on Wikipedia will yield “social map.” It’s definition has a cartographic orientation. It also has marketing’s application of the phrase. There is another term as well: “Corporate Social Map.” The material is sparse, and the article called for additional citations . . . in August of 2008.

No social mapping definition yet on Wikipedia.

Defining “social mapping” is difficult. Anybody got a World Book?

Social mapping has yielded at least one billion dollar tech acquisition, but no Wikipedia entry apparently.

Social Mapping in The Wild

After months of testing, development, observation and hand-wringing, I documented some of our findings on the social mapping space while building the Whitepoint framework. You can now read them in a paper for Museums and the Web Asia 2013.

The museum space is the perfect arena for a social mapping discussion, because the concepts are easily illustrated in that environment. Museums and the arts also have much to gain from the associated technologies.

The paper identifies common qualities of social mapping technologies – including social, discovery, navigation, and the mapping of data points. It also discusses shifting user expectations with regard to aerial versus point of view perspective.

What’s In a Name?

Because of the rate that technology changes, we may one day find that nailing down a definition of social mapping was futile. However, right now, the concept is an important one. I’m convinced of this, because the ways in which we capture, consume, and process information is fundamentally changing.

Terminology has been thrown around that indicated the trend years ago. Virtual tour, virtual reality, augmented reality, wearable technologies . . . What comes next? The concepts and qualities of social mapping technology can help us all get our brains around what we’re capable of doing today and what we’ll be expecting tomorrow.


As evidenced with various technologies and attempts at engaging users, immediate adoption is – of course -another story.

In 2002, I used – and loved – the HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000. It had a stylus and a keyboard that you would conveniently hide away. It was compact, ran Windows, and was surprisingly reliable.

In 2010, Apple introduced the iPad. By then, any idea of a Windows tablet was forgotten and even laughable.

On what device are you reading this blog? Maybe you’re reading it on your phone or a Surface.

Do you disagree or agree with this take on social mapping? I’d love to hear from you. Reply below or tweet @WhitepointMobi.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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