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Part 6: Mapping kit


The Territory Construed as the Map: in search of radical design innovations in therepresentation of human activities and their relationships (Part #7)


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It is to be hoped that Parts 3, 4 and 5 have given a better understandingof how "conceptual markers" might be used within some "terrestrial" or"solar" representation. It should be apparent that a step by step designapproach is possible with many options. Many of the options can be designedinto the representation without necessarily asserting themselves aggressivelyon the attention of the observer/user - who may be as sensitive or insensitiveto the variety and complexity as are people with regard to their ordinaryenvironment.

The stage is therefore set for the design team to create a world inwhich the familiar elements used in the representation are interrelatedin a manner which reflects, as much as possible, what is understood ofthe relationships and characteristics of the psycho-social phenomena theydenote. The design team may put into the design "kit", for use as "conceptualmarkers" as many features of the "real world" as are considered usefulin carrying an understanding of what needs to be represented. The designchallenge is to "feel out" the iconicity of different design options. Amajor difficulty is to resolve problems of level of abstraction and todetermine where to ¢< put,. certain phenomena (e.g. as a geological,climatic, or social feature, or on a separate planet). A "poor" designwould have the doubtful value of a literary metaphor. A "good" design wouldbe highly isomorphic and would raise interesting questions. How isomorphicand how iconic it is possible to be remains to be discovered. The designproblem is as much art as it is science, and that is how it should be toresult in a significant representation (for the absence of either leavesus where we now stand).

It is interesting to reflect on how many distinctions and relationshipsare built into any conventional concept of the world and our labellingof its elements and processes (on the basis of education or experience).Of course part of the design problem here is matched in the differentconcepts of the world held in nonwestern cultures and languages. Thisdoes not prevent communication, however much it is distorted, but it disguisesheavily the subtle differences in understanding (1).

In Fig. 6 some indication is given of the variety of features which could beconsidered in the design. It is worth bearing in mind the procedures used tointerrelate objectively such features in the "real world" (e.g. topography andtriangulation surveying). The stages and processes by which such techniqueswere discovered, and to consider the extent to which analogous problems arenot to be faced in designing or understanding the representation.

Fig. 6: Metaphoric mapping features
Continent,  wind, mountain (chain), storm, peninsula, flood (plain),island, desert, watershed, swamp, valley, jungle, plateau, grassland, ocean,forest, strait, sea, estaury, river

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