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What is not a map?
May 20, 2008 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Ruminations on the Borderlands of Cartography, or: What is not a map? "..as far as animals with map-like blotches on them, they don't get in the tent as family, but we might consider letting them in as entertainers." [via]
posted by peacay (10 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Cartifact" is my new favorite word. And I have been known to buy a bottle of wine just because it had a map on the label.
posted by desjardins at 2:35 PM on May 20, 2008


Rosencrantz: I don't believe in it anyway.
Guildenstern: What?
Rosencrantz: England.
Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?
posted by quin at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2008


“Symbolic representation of spatial data” looks pretty good. But the human mind is constructed to always push the envelope and seek exceptions. That map from The Hunting of the Snark with nothing inside the neat line, has no data, yet it calls itself a map. It has parts in itself (top, bottom, left, right, corners), but it shows nothing other than itself.

I was unfamiliar with this, so I did a little looking and I came up with this:

After crossing the sea guided by the Bellman's map of the Ocean — a blank sheet of paper — the hunting party arrive in a strange land.


Which is pretty damn awesome.
posted by quin at 3:05 PM on May 20, 2008


That was a fun read. I have had for a long time this feeling that if my brain were wired just a little bit differently, I'd be a total cartography geek. As it is, I mostly get warm feelings looking at or reading about mappery and then move on.
posted by cortex at 3:19 PM on May 20, 2008


That just about perfectly describes my attitude too. On any other day I might not have bothered posting this. I've been mildly amused and surprised at just how pervasive 'mapping' in its many guises has become over time on the internet. It's not just GPS technonerdom either. Everything seems to be mapped. It's like the visual savant half brother of statistical OCD.
posted by peacay at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2008


Delightful.
posted by nax at 4:57 PM on May 20, 2008


Is the homunculus a map?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:16 PM on May 20, 2008


It's like the visual savant half brother of statistical OCD.

Totally my new e-mail signature.
posted by desjardins at 6:45 PM on May 20, 2008


And as far as animals with map-like blotches on them, they don't get in the tent as family, but we might consider letting them in as entertainers.

This guy just unwittingly described about two-thirds of Chester the Worldly Pig. God, I love this book.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 9:16 PM on May 20, 2008


The bit from The Hunting of the Snark about the map:
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank:"
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best --
A perfect and absolute blank!"
and the map itself, as illustrated by Henry Holiday.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:24 AM on May 21, 2008


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