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It is not down in any map. True places never are. -- Herman Melville (possibly to move to SocialSemanticSpace?) via Ecotone Wiki [1]


Rough notes

MapsAreTerritories (Turnbull, 1994)

What is the relationship between the map and the territory?

When is a map not a map but a picture?

"The map is not the territory." (Korzybski, 1941)

Korzybski, A. (1941) Science and sanity (2nd ed.). Lancaster, PA: International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Co.

Two types:

"Maps are graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes, or events in the human world." Harley, J. B. and Woodward, D. (eds.) (1987) The history of cartography, vol. 1, p.xvi

Selective: they do not, and cannot, display all there is to know about any given piece of the enviornment.

Direct if they are to be maps at all they must directly represent at least some aspects of the landscape




Following the discovery of perspective geometry, the position of man in the cosmos altered. The new technique permitted the world to be measured through proportional compariosn. With the aid of the new geometry the relative sizes of different objects could be assessed at a distance for the first time. Distant objects could be reproduced with fidelity, or created to exact specifications in any position in space and then manipulated mathematically. The implications were tremendous. Arsitotelian thought had encoded all objects with 'essence', an indivisible, incomparable uniqueness. The position of these objects was, therefore, not to be compared with that of other objects, but only with God, who stood at the centre of the universe. Now, at a stroke, the special relationship with God and every separate object was removed, to be replaced by direct human control over objects existing in the same, measurable space

This control over distance included objects in the sky, where the planets were supposed to roll, intangible and eternal, on their Aristotelian crystal spheres. Now they too might be measured, or even controlled at a distance. Man, with his new geometrical tool, was the measure of all things. The world was now available to standardisation. Everything could be related to the same scale and described in terms of mathematical function instead of merely its philosophical quality. Its activity could also be measured by a common standard, and perhaps be seen to conform to rules other than those of its positional relationship with the rest of nature. There might even be common, standard, measurable laws that governed nature.

-- Burke, J. (1985) The day the universe changed. [publisher?] pp. 76-77 (as qtd. in MapsAreTerritories, pp. 24-25)

not photographs

SocialSemanticSpace? as lived map

different tribe




Perception of existing maps

===(MacEachren?, 1995) ===

Towards functional maps

Maps as graphic communication

Koláèný, A. (1969) Cartographic information--a fundamental concept and term in modern cartography. Cartographic Journal, 6, 47-49.

Exactness: Pixel to point

. . . In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Emprie itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Disclipline of Geography.

-- from Travels of praiseworthy men (1658) by J. A. Suárez Miranda (1658) as qtd. in MapsAreTerritories (1994, p. 2) [which in turn is quoting Jorge Luis Borges, A universal history of infamy (1975, p. 131)]

And here I was thinking map-vs-territory was an accessible metaphor of some kind. Sunir, have you considered dumbing down some of this stuff at all? --EvanProdromou

I assume by "dumb" you mean compscis. You want me to compsci this up? ;) Sure. I have to write a paper on this that I'm submitting to the Computer Science faculty. What? I'm not the only person here who reads literary theory textbooks, am I? Maybe that explains why Alex hated CybertextPerspectivesOnErgodicLiterature. -- SunirShah

So, I can eat a map of Quebec, but I can't eat Quebec. When I draw a new dot on my map of Quebec right off autoroute 40 and write "St. Prodromou" next to it, I can't drive down autoroute 40 and find the town of St. Prodromou and go have a burger there. If I cut Quebec out of my map in Canada, it is not sovereign.

Most of my ideas of "X == Y" have to do with, "If you change X, Y is changed the same way." That doesn't happen with maps. So, I guess I'm missing the whole joke. --EvanProdromou

Taiap and the masalai; language, religion, semantic space, RepresentationConfusion, and the crushing reality of globalization. [2]

"One consequence of the new exactly repeatable visual statement was modern science. Exact observation does not begin with modern science. For ages, it has always been essential for survival among, for example, hunters and craftsmen of many sorts. What is distinctive of modern science is the conjuncture of exact observation and exact verbalization: exactly worded descriptions of carefully observed complex objects and processes. The availability of carefully made, technical prints (first woodcuts, and later even more exactly detailed metal engravings) implemented such exactly worded descriptions. Technical prints and technical verbalization reinforced and improved each other. The resulting hypervisualized noetic world was brand new. Ancient and medieval writers are simply unable to produce exactly worded descriptions of complex objects at all approximating the descriptions that appear after print and, indeed, that mature chiefly with the Age of Romanticism, that is, the age of the Industrial Revolution. Oral and residually oral verbalization directs its attention to action, not to the visual appearance of objects or scenes or persons (Fritschi 1981, pp. 65—6; cf. Havelock 1963, pp. 61—96). Vitruvius' treatise on architecture is notoriously vague. The kinds of exactitude aimed at by the long-standing rhetorical tradition were not of a visual-vocal sort. Eisenstein (1979, p. 64) suggests how difficult it is today to imagine earlier cultures where relatively few persons had ever seen a physically accurate picture of anything." (Ong, 1982; p. 127)


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