Google Maps in Your Book
In its current incarnation, Christoph Benda’s first novel requires that you a) be able to read German and b) have an internet connection.
Benda’s work, Senghor on the Rocks, is a geo-referenced electronic novel in which the text is combined with an embedded map mash-up from Google Maps on a website.
The map, which is fixed in the “Satellite View” mode, moves as the location changes in the novel and every page of text is accompanied by a corresponding map.
“For me, the project always has been related to a map in a certain sense. Only that it wasn’t hi tech, online satellite imagery but the rather worn out paper map I had carried with me throughout all my time in Africa,” says Benda who wrote the book between 2002 and 2005.
“It’s a fast paced adventure that starts as a job, develops into an involuntary journey
and culminates in a reflection about the possibilities and limits of cross-cultural understanding,” explains Florian Ledermann, a software engineer at the Vienna University of Technology, who worked with Benda on the project.
“We wanted to add something to the story that helps readers – especially as the story is set in an unfamiliar environment – to envision the mood of the story without illustrating it,” says Ledermann.
“The satellite images provided by Google Maps do not constrain the reader’s imagination but are capable of actually triggering imagination by giving a rough impression without too much detail.”