Monday, September 10, 2007


I have seen the 12th cent. map of China before, though I'm sure I was more amazed by the fact that someone could walk in so many parallel lines and not mess up. What is most interesting about this map is contradictory to Tufte's rule #2 (induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than the methodology). In this map we understand the scale of the human being who measured the map, as it is titled "Map of the Tracks of Yu the Great". It is the tracks that become the dominant plotting, and the recording of coastline and rivers subordinate. Why is that interesting? We can imagine him walking across the landscape in a rational pattern over an organic landscape, the physical acting-out of a rational projection.

Now I'm not advocating we just go breaking the rules, as much fun as that is. We should be most concerned with making the map content as clear and unobstructed by digital tracks. Yet we will be walking as well, and perhaps we should be emulating a rational pattern in our tracks as we try to understand a chaotic, irrational landscape of forgotten futures.

Well my landuse/open space buffer clip operation, which takes over 10 minutes to calculate, just failed for the fourth consecutive time. The night is young...

No comments: