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The Territory Construed as the Map

In search of radical design innovations in the representationof human activities and their relationships (Part #1)

Prepared in 1979 in connection with the Forms of Presentation sub-project ofthe Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the UnitedNations University. Printed in Transnational Associations, 1982, 2, pp80-89 [PDF version]. Also in: Formsof Presentation and the Future of Comprehension (1984)
Part 1: Ordering distinctions
Part 2: Complementary
Part 3: Comprehensible code
Part 4: Integration
Part 5: Transformations
Part 6: Mapping kit
Part 7: Practical possibilities
Part 8: Evolving design

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This paper explores the possibility of a new approach to the representationof any complete ranges of human activity or concern. The justificationfor doing so has been discussed elsewhere (1, 2, 3). The intention is toprovide a much improved overview of their degree of relationship and afeel for the dynamics between them. A particular concern is to reflectadequately the degree of lack of relationship, indifference, mutual irrelevance,or distortion of perspective characteristic between those active in suchdifferent fields.

The tentative nature of these investigations must be stressed. At thistime it appears that three distinct approaches must be clarified. Then,by interrelating them and allowing each to modify the interpretations towhich the others give rise, a basis for the new representation sought emerges.

The prime concern here is not one of logic or rigour since, to the extentthat these have been called for, they have been utilized in more conventionalresponses to the problem (e.g. classification schemes, general system theories,world models, etc.). Rather the concern is to provide a convenient, comprehensiblerepresentation - capable of embodying all the detail and precision required- which will provoke reflexion, discussion at many levels, and feedbackon the perceived relationships between the fields represented. The concernis to create a communication tool to fulfil a need not met by conventionalexplanations, information frameworks and systems. Given that the conventionalapproaches are unable to provoke their users into formulating better (asopposed to more precise) questions, the tool sought should enable usersto formulate those questions for which they did not know that they neededthe answers.

The three approaches are examined separately in Parts 1 to 3 below.In Part 4 their interrelationship is explored.

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