New Technologies for Collecting (Dialectological) Mental Maps

(FLOM) The Folk Linguistic Online Mapping application is designed as an open-source, customizable suite of tools for collecting mental maps for linguistic research. The core of this project is based around the JavaScript library of Leaflet with use of the FreeDraw module and a hack made available by Bostongraphy. Please note that we are using the legacy version of Leaflet and FreeDraw for the version currently being demo'ed on this site. For more details, please feel free to contact us.

What is FLOM?

FLOM is a tool for collecting perceptual dialect maps and subjective reactions to language variation online. This tool enables researchers to create online surveys that incorporate maps as a means of framing the responses. Survey takers can directly respond to research questions by:

  • Drawing on a map (i.e., traditional draw-a-map tasks) using either a mouse or touch screen device
  • Rating predefined and/or user-generated regions for difference characteristics (i.e., pleasantness-correctness and degree of difference tasks)
  • Indicating on a map where an audio clip is perceived to have been uttered (i.e., voice placement tasks)
  • Providing information about personal experiences with different regions of the world, as specified by the researcher (i.e., place experience tasks)
  • Providing general socio-demographic information

Researchers can use their own maps and sound files, as well as develop customized survey questions (such as respondent demographics). We are currently working on a user-friendly interface based around JavaScript, React, and Docker, to facilitate the use of FLOM by researchers with varying degrees of technical backgrounds. However, all versions of the program we are developing for the foreseeable future will require the researcher to have access to their own web server and Docker installation.

The goal of FLOM is to ameliorate methodological problems with PD especially with regard to analysis of data. Because we can now use GIS to analyze hand-drawn lines on PD maps, FLOM allows us to eliminate aspects of human error in the analysis stages by enabling participant responses (lines or labels) to go directly to a database. The coordinate (latitude/longitude) data collected by the tool, stored as WKT (Well Known Text) strings, can be used to create visual displays in a Geographic Information Software (GIS) program (software-specific and general guides coming soon). In addition, it provides a platform and methodology that many researchers can use thus enabling results from many studies to be compared.

Below is a brief overview of FLOM. (The video demonstrates an earlier version of FLOM.)

FLOM is currently in the development stage but it is available for pilot studies. Please contact us if you are interested in testing FLOM.

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Latest Functional Version of FLOM