Before there were maps

Back then, I would describe the place I traveled to with a linear narrative. I would describe what I saw as I walked along ... a grove of trees to my left, further along a cliff to my right ...

Frustration with communicating via linear narrative resulted in picking up a stick and making marks representing a visual model of the landscape in my head. These scratches evolved into the world of cartography and GIS we now enjoy.

We deal with a lot of complexity today, cognitive complexity, complexity rooted in relationships between concepts. We explain these complex relationships via linear narrative, describing a journey along a path, pointing out the landmarks. The audience must build this cognitive landscape, registering each component and they way each connects to each other. Given the difficulty of this exercise, many get lost along the way.

We need maps, visualizations which place the concepts in space such their relation to each other is understood at a glance.

This is a fairly well known concept, and currently implemented as marks with a stick. My conviction is that it will evolve into tools which spatialize knowledge such that more is more quickly understood by more of us.

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