Understanding that the Map is not the Territory

Maps are all around us and you probably use them more than you think, and maps change the way you think. Knowing that the abstracted representation of the world (the map) is not the actual place (the territory) is an important distinction that we need to make. Another, easier, way to think about this is by knowing that the menu is not the food.

With how much we rely on maps in the modern era we should consistently think about what the map is telling us – and not telling us. Over at ArchDaily they have a good article exploring how maps have been used to change how we think,

Maps aid us in navigation and help us make sense of the vast scale of our world, but they also have many limitations. The Mercator Projection is a well-known example of a map that heavily distorts reality, making Greenland, for instance, appear the same size as South America when it is only one-eighth as big. The field of urban planning has throughout its history relied on maps to aid in the layout of urban settlements and design of urban environments, but these maps have also tended to be disconnected from the myriad of experiences of those “on the ground”, as maps can fail to take into account the complex nature of an urban area.

Read more.

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