For my first ever assignment bank assignment I decided to tackle the Harness Relationships: Make a Map with Kumu. I had never used Kumu before but I had seen people use it before and was curious to check it out. Seeing it in the assignment bank I was excited to try it out.  I remembered people saying Kumu could be difficult to use so I started by going through all the tutorials for how to create a map. Kumu offers three types of general maps, the assignment bank specified a connections map so I selected that type of map. I decided to have my maps of connections tie into the secret agent theme of the semester. For my map I created a character map of the characters in a James Bond as a way to explore the story of a film.

Poster for James Bond film Dr. No

I chose to look at the James Bond film Dr. No, now I have actually never seen this Bond film before and I purposefully chose one that I had not seen. I decided to do this because I wanted to see how much character descriptions alone could help you explore the story itself. Now I primarily used Wikipedia to inform me on the characters in the film. I know people often have reservations about using Wikipedia as reference however I have found that particularly dedicated fans keep a close eye on monitoring correct information on these pages. I also went into the pages edit history and checked through the history to see that it is well maintained. Another reason was that many people when they want a basic idea of a story tend to google the film and read the summary, so I was exploring how some one casually looking up the film could understand the story through it’s characters. (Although for my own part in trying to discern story from just character I only read character synopsis and did not read the plot. Only after I had finished my map did I go back and read the plot to see how much of the story I was able to discern. )

So as I started my Kumu map I decided to keep the descriptions for each character brief as well as the connections making it more essential to look at both the characters and the connections. So in Kumu each character is represented as an “element” or a little circle and the lines that go from element to element are “connections.”  For instance here is my example element for the character James Bond. (The lines extending out of frame are connections to other characters.)

screenshot of a Kumu element

For each character I included a brief introduction about who they were, I also included the actor who portrayed them. In the case of frequently repeating  characters in the franchise I included who else played the character in other films but specified the actor for this particular film.

screenshot of a element's content on Kumu

I also went ahead and had to play around to figure out how to upload images and decided I wanted to keep the over all map minimalist in color after playing around with color in the Kumu edit section. From there is was all about imputing each character as an element. Once I had a bunch of floating elements going I had to go back and trace how each character was connected. After I created all the connections I went back and double checked to make sure everything was correct.

I was surprised how much about the plot I really understood just through the character summaries. I was able to figure out the events took place in Kingston Jamica, who worked for the villian Dr. No, and who made it out alive. Admittedly though when I read just the summaries of the characters as a group there were some missing gaps in relationships that I only got when I dug deeper in the process of finding images for the characters. For instance the short description for the character Honey Ryder focuses on her occupation but does not inherently link her to other characters. However when you click into the Honey Ryder page it becomes clear she has a romantic relationship with James Bond. Overall though I was able to discern a good deal about the film just through analyzing the characters relationships with one another.

Finally here is my final product! Kumu is a interesting tool to play around with but even more fun when it’s completed because the bigger picture is present. Unfortunately the way Kumu embeds in a site is rather small and changing the dimensions distorted the map so I suggest looking at it through Kumu’s site to get the full effect. (Warning though there site can be a bit slow to load sometimes.)