Creating Simple Digital Maps – Community Referendums on Mining in Guatemala

Posted on Posted in Guatemala, My Research

I have to admit, I love charts. They thoroughly appeal to my obsessive organizational side. That said, my research has been completely devoid of chartage. Until now.

As part of my summer Mellon Public Humanities Fellowship, I’m working on a shiny new chart to track the 80+ consultas comunitarias held in Guatemala to date.

I will grudgingly acknowledge that charts aren’t always that exciting on their own. However, this particular chart makes it easier to plot the locations of the referendums on a map, from which I plan to link to individual pages describing the communities and displaying various artifacts associated with the votes.

Behold, the fruits of that chart:

I’m quite excited about this. Granted, this is what you might call the “beta” version of the map. After bringing the vote tally up to date (this map only includes votes through 2011), I’ll add more details about each vote to the clickable points (go ahead, give one a click!), and eventually link each point to a page displaying various artifacts from the vote in that community. But, this is step one!

But what about the chart, you may wonder.

This map began as a simple spreadsheet with columns for the date of the vote, the community name, and its latitude and longitude (in decimal form). I’ll later add additional columns with the details I want to include, which will then appear in the popup bubbles for each point on the map.

Glorious Chart

(Protip: If you’re looking for the coordinates of a particular community, google “[community name] coordinates”. Yes, it’s really that simple.)

I then saved it as a *.csv file, and dragged-and-dropped it into the text edit window at That site converted my database (spreadsheet) into the code that produced the map. Et voilà, a lovely (albeit basic) digital map! From there, you can save, export, share, and embed it into a website, or get a bit fancier by adding layers and other functions to alter your points, which I’ll go over in a later post.

Happy mapping (and charting)!

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