Maps and politics

This is a nice short read on maps and territory:

“The map is simplified to make it legible. In so doing, the author imbues it with his own vision of the world and his own priorities.

Maps are subject to all kinds of manipulation, from the crudest to the most subtle. They are eminently political objects, and governments rightly consider them an effective propaganda tool.”

Compare with Rashmi‘s:

“it is incorrect to think that Recommender Systems cannot have an agenda, or less of an agenda than categorization. Recommender Systems are explicitly designed to encourage people to buy. Often, they are the technique that helps the telemarketer suggest another product to you in a late evening phone call. In contrast browse, or search systems are much more self-directed. Recommender System algorithms are fine tuned for marketing and sales purposes not for helping you discover information. “

We’ve got to make our navigation, search, taxonomy, user-interface – everything as ‘impartial’ as possible, whilst still making it buzz and fizz enough to get people involved and active within the system. We’ve just started our detail design phase, so these thoughts will be at the front of our minds.

» Le Monde Diplomatique: A political look at territory [via Demos Greenhouse

0 comments
  1. Are you sure that is true? It might be, for the BBCi, a new site. But does gap.com neeed an impartial taxonomy? Does buy.com?

    Also, what is the “design detail” phase, and how many phases have you got over there anyhow?

  2. MrG said:

    With those forefront thoughts, I do hope one or two of them can be pushed so far ahead that it turns up in your blog 😉

    I still don’t have an acceptable interface for it, but I’m reasonably convinced the TopicMap people are headed in the right direction for navigations, and we had reasonable success implementing this (for a very narrow book-finding purpose) on informit.com — the problem is not so much the recommenders as the sum of them (for building consensus) and then the cold topic links (bridge-points) that let us play the Kevin Bacon (6-Degrees) game with our content. That’s a nice nutshell to say, but rolling it out, which involves paring it down, that’s where it’s back to an Art.

  3. simon said:

    Off topic perhaps, but for an entirely different reason I revisited a paper I read a long time ago on maps and the colonial project in India: http://inic.utexas.edu/asnic/pages/sagar/fall.1994/ian.barrow.art.html Someone , somewhere might find it useful or interesting…perhaps.

    I’d been researching about how people ‘map’ TV channels in their minds, how they use different guides and the act of planned vs. serendipitous viewing and a quote in this paper came to mind: “Vera quae visa; quae non, veriora,” — The things that we have seen are true; those we have not seen are truer still. Maps in the form of things like TV guides, menus or typologies dominate the way we perceive, but move beyond the map and we’re onto a rather more open looking road.

  4. simon said:

    Off topic perhaps, but for an entirely different reason I revisited a paper I read a long time ago on maps and the colonial project in India: http://inic.utexas.edu/asnic/pages/sagar/fall.1994/ian.barrow.art.html Someone , somewhere might find it useful or interesting…perhaps.

    I’d been researching about how people ‘map’ TV channels in their minds, how they use different guides and the act of planned vs. serendipitous viewing and a quote in this paper came to mind: “Vera quae visa; quae non, veriora,” — The things that we have seen are true; those we have not seen are truer still. Maps in the form of things like TV guides, menus or typologies dominate the way we perceive, but move beyond the map and we’re onto a rather more open looking road.

  5. julie paterson said:

    hello there,
    i’m a visual artist working with subverting the language of maps and territories. as this is just a new area of investigation, i would greatly appreciate any feedback of sites or books or any resources that will assist me in constructing my work. thanks for your time. regards julie paterson

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