Editor’s Note: In our “Mind Mapping Out The Box” series, Angus McDonald explores the principles, laws, concepts, and recent history of making geographic maps and associated digital technologies, and to see what can be usefully applied to the process of making information maps using digital mind mapping software like Mindjet MindManager. He hopes to convince users that, by realising that software is in fact a great information cartography tool, they can use it to map their own external, real world for the benefit of themselves and others, and not just the inner world of their thoughts and ideas. He apologies in advance to any metaphoric ‘grandparents’ in the readership if they feel they are being taught how to “suck eggs.”
This is PART 2 of “Are You an Information Cartographer?” Catch up with Part 1 of this article here.
Digital Mapping – Making The Pictures Interactive
These images prove a point but they are static, so 18th century in fact! In this digital age, the comparison would be more accurately made between something like Google Maps, and software that enables words to be arranged relative to each other on the page, allowing users to drill down through different levels, and all sorts of equivalent operations you can do when working with geographic maps. Something like mind mapping software, such as MindManager, perhaps?
I hope those of you that are still with me can see that it’s not too much of a leap to go from these static world maps above, to the thing I started this post with: a screenshot of Knowledge Mappers new Atlas of Countries of the World (Geographic Layout map. If we zoom in/ drill down, you can see what I mean by interactive. Suddenly, it’s not just a description of the structure of the world, it’s also knowledge about the things in the world (courtesy of the MindManager in-built browser).
Now we’re cooking! But we’ll go into why it is not necessarily the case that “the digital map is not the territory” (and other cartographic principles) next time!
For now I would like to leave you with the thought that, rather than wasting precious breath questioning whether it is or isn’t a “proper” map according to some arbitrary rules, ask: “Does it do the job of communicating the structure and content of the ‘space’?” In other words, does it inform the user, and could it inform the user better?
Most “mind maps” certainly could with a bit of applied cartographic know-how!
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