22 July 2007

Mapping the web

For many people -- whether spatially skilled or not -- maps become a meaningful metaphor for understanding space. Within that metaphor, familiar maps make more sense than new ones, even if the terrain is changed. So it is interesting that several cartogra-artists are using subway maps to describe complex non-spatial relationships. A while back some buzz was created by a map of the London Underground that captured 100 years of music history and influences. This week some buzz has been created by one that maps the web trends as a subway map. It is interesting to see how they linked certain hot spots and how disconnected some ended up being.

More valuable is this serious reminder of how compelling a content-rich map can be if it is designed well. Since a map like this requires much more cartographic creativity and can can't be slapped together in GIS, it should be a reminder of how seriously we should be taking the cartographic design processes. Instead, we simply seem to end up accepting the standardized software outputs with slight variations and celebrating the very occasional exceptions, like this.

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