The Ripple Mapping Tool Tells Stories With Data

A community event or program, especially one that uplifts the needs of marginalized communities, can result in outcomes that ripple across space and time. Although some are predictable, there are often unexpected impacts when people come together to share a unique experience — new collaborations, job opportunities, ideas, and friendships can emerge.

The Ripple Mapping Tool helps people (organizers, participants, and funders) tell the stories of these outcomes and gain a better understanding of the impact of their work. It provides a platform to crowdsource stories which contribute to interactive data visualizations, which we call “ripple maps”.

screenshot of ripple mapping tool
The most recent iteration of the Ripple Mapping Tool

Visualizing Outcomes of the AMC

And Also Too and Bento Box teamed up with Allied Media Projects in 2015 to bring this tool to the Allied Media Conference community. As longtime AMC supporters, we knew that the tool could tell thousands of stories demonstrating the conference’s impact beyond the immediate outcomes during four days of workshops and events. With the support of a Knight Prototype grant and the Creative Solutions Symposium, we have completed two major iterations of the tool and a whole lot of user testing!

ripple mapping user testing
Human-sized prototype at the Creative Solutions Symposium, Brewster NY, August 2015

Through testing sessions in Detroit and Brooklyn in the fall of 2015 we traced the numerous ripple effects of a single workshop that took place at the AMC in 2009, called “Building a Healthy Digital Ecology.” We learned that some of the things that can be traced back to that workshop include the establishment of mesh networks in several Detroit neighborhoods, the spread of DiscoTech fairs worldwide, and the mobilization of low-income communities of color around the issue of net neutrality.

In January of 2016 we presented an improved prototype at the annual AMC Coordinators’ Weekend, where over 60 coordinators of the AMC’s “tracks” “practice spaces” and “network gatherings” (TPSNGs) convened to plan their content areas for AMC 2016. This time, we treated the event itself as an outcome and worked backwards to map out stories of how the coordinators came to be involved with the AMC. We also collected and mapped stories of AMC sessions, TPSNGs, events, or participant interactions that had had an impact on coordinators’ lives.

Ripple Mapping session at AMC coordinators mtg
Testing the Ripple Mapping Tool at the AMC Coordinators Meeting

Currently we’re working on improving the user interface design, enabling people to tell richer stories, and thinking through security issues.

Have you connected with someone through the AMC who introduced you to a new tool or idea? Connected you to a new community? Inspired new collaborations on a project? If you are interested in sharing a story about the AMC’s impact on your work, your thinking, or your life, please fill out our online survey at

Una Lee is a designer and project lead of the Ripple Mapping Tool.

The Ripple Mapping Tool is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects. To make a tax-deductible contribution to support the continued research and development of the tool and the communities that it affects, click the link below.


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