Why use an ‘incorrect’ map?

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

All maps are lies, so why do we still use them?
Lies or not, maps contain a subset of reality in them. We use maps because they can:

  1. Fulfil specific purposes.
    Today, we have maps for hiking, driving, touring a foreign country. Many lie via a difference in representation, through various omissions or visual emphasises, however these ‘white lies’ are done so to best convey the purpose of the map, so that we, the user (whether we be a retail business, military, or student) may focus on this pre-filtered information to serve our own related purposes.
  2. Reveal their personal context.
    As an extension of the first point, maps are constructed for different reasons, and can be analyzed to reveal the contexts they were created in (more relevant to maps associated with history or anthropology).
  3. Provides accumulative knowledge.
    Maps are represented differently, omitting, and emphasizing different features through different visual attributes. However, underneath the differing visual attributes, lies basic, simple node graphs (with places as nodes and connections(e.g. roads) as edges). Many maps (of similar areas/topics) can be comparatively transformed to one another through basic toplogy-retaining affine transformations. Similar to how one can not unbiasedly learn from a single perspective (/source), one can gain a more expansive understanding of an area through the accumulative viewings of maps of an area. The various maps we have been exposed to throughout our life have lead to such an understanding of such places (most prominently, our local area).
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Bibliography:

  • Add. (This is a culmination of the various readings and references from the preceding posts.)
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