Paul Makepeace ;-)

May 19, 2006

An observation on self-mapping

Posted in: Drivel

Let's say you wanted to find out where a place was in the global or regional scheme of things. You're part of a community and folks volunteer their whereabouts and wanna know where they are. How far, what would it cost to travel and hang out, basic stuff like that. For argument's sake let's say you wanted to find out where County Tyrone is. I know a priori it's in Ireland. How would you do it? Of course, you'd probably lean on your favorite search engine, or if you were particularly savvy their map product. But even that probably wouldn't help as gmaps is regionalized and doesn't yet "do" Ireland too well.

But that's besides the point. The point is, when people make websites about themselves they often miss their own position in their regional or even global context. Pick a random place that's not a whole country (because Google Maps does that quite well; make it harder!) and try to get a sense of where it is, e.g. Bracknell Forest. Often you'll end up with a bunch of maps of the immediate area with absolutely no sense of where it is in its country or even the world.

It's incredibly frustrating. So it got me thinking why is this? And is it any insight into who we are at this moment in time, or as a species?

Ken Wilbur talks about levels of awareness from self to tribe to region to global consciousness, how actions and behaviors impact on others within that catchment. Landmark are another group who of all the people I've interacted with over the years seem to have this spiralling-out awareness of how we can affect our environment. Evolution of society and culture seems to proceed out through these spirals encompassing increasingly wider scope at the same time subsuming the inner spirals (this is the genius of spiral dynamics, that perception of our universe consists of viewing concepts as being whole and complete by themselves yet containing and being contained by others in that universe. For example, an atom contains quarks while being contained by molecules, but an atom is something on its own without being "subjugated" or necessarily categorised in a hierarchy).

So my takeaway from my lack of success in finding how regions are located within the world suggests first off people aren't too concerned about the world beyond their immediate borders, unless those on the other side of the border are particularly troublesome. (If you are inclined, check out the Slovenian coastline and ponder what the Croatians and Italians are up to. Yeah, you're still in Europe. Have fun.)

But also the tools to express any awareness are not particularly well understood either. Gmaps covers the world but in varying degrees. I am a great believer in tools enabling folks to consider and deal with concepts much like words in language enable chunking of ideas. But.. what else is there? What's the gap between local and global awareness? Why do some folks care about this and others not?

Where's the gap?

Posted by Paul Makepeace at May 19, 2006 20:59 | TrackBack

I was extremely frustrated too about how to find my correct positions even with google maps.
My current residence is not yet mapped. The map is there…you just can not find your Street over

I just implemented google map to my own web site and the biggest deal was to find to correct latidutes. For lot of places even in Germany, they are no online documentations of latitudes.

So…I tested the best positions manually!
GLatLng 53.993, 10.855 = Lübeck Airport.
Now, I am a geo pro.

So, my question is…Am I now mapped with my “somewhere on the coast” name of my mapping?
Will I find it over later if I will search for “somewhere on the coast, germany”

Have a nice mapping,

Moonweaver aka marta gal

Posted by: moonweaver at May 20, 2006 00:16

A recent Economist (May 6th) carries a story about Charles Booth's project in the 19th century to map London's streets (specifically, Stockwell) by the character of their inhabitants.

While necessarily subjective (Booth's researchers note things like a torn waistcoat on a washing line indicating low social status) this may be key to the contextual understanding I think you're seeking - it depends on which set of 'mapping primitives' you use. Roads and buildings aren't the only base-level features you can build a map with.

What's interesting is that this map, based on human behaviour, has changed little in over a hundred years. London's pockets of poverty remain largely where they were in the 19th Century. Now, if similar maps could be drawn for customs and culture....

Posted by: chrisworth at May 22, 2006 10:35

O my God!! You look EXACTLY like my ex boyfriend. I had to read through your cite to make sure it wasn't him. I wish I had a pic on my computer to send to you. That's just creepy.

Posted by: mouse at May 15, 2007 05:33

PS... or not PS? I'm not even sure if the comment I left before worked. Well anyway - I told you you looked exactly like my ex but now that I saw the pic of you clean shaven and realized that you have black hair I've decided you don't look too much like him. I felt it was important to clear that up ... for no reason whatsoever.
And just so you know, you're quite ... hmm, I would say hansome because it's more apropriate but there's no getting arround it - you're hot.

Posted by: mouse at May 15, 2007 05:48
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