Monday, October 1, 2007


The dissolution of the boundary between a map and our experience of the mapped reality is opening up brave new worlds. We have hybrid map/realities in all sorts of forms enabled by GPS, GIS, the Internet, cell phones and PDAs, etc--media to explore an environment which is lodged in both digital and analog space. The Urban Tapestries project is particularly interesting because you can access experience both in time and space; retrieving someone's previous impressions of a place while you experience it yourself collapses time and space. Other examples illustrate how fun it is to feel as though you can manipulate actual space by manipulating map--the driving interaction maps, e.g.

The agency of mapping is becoming increasingly powerful for the map user. In the case of the Toxic Avengers, the most powerful effect of that map was its ability to shape a shared reality, that of imminent threat from toxic sources, in order to unite Latinos and Hasidic Jews and other ethnic groups that could not stand up to the threat alone. What was also interesting was how they developed their cartography to appeal more to the courts, though essentially mapping the same thing as in the skull and crossbones map.

We have done these maps of San Francisco now to describe our experiences of the city and to begin to answer questions we felt we were unanswerable by the totalizing maps. Is the next step then to unite our ideas of experience and moving through the city with the landscape of information lodged in GIS by designing an interface between the two?

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