Neither Pin Map nor Network: Liminal Mapping With Pseudo-Spatial Charts

Authors: Evangeline McGlynn*, University of California - Berkeley, Will B Payne, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Cartography, Communication
Keywords: Digital Geography, Cartography, Critical Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the migration of most cartographic tasks first to GIS and then to web-based tools, the capacity for analytic mapping and its accessibility to non-technicians has exploded. There are, however, vernacular use cases that have been lost in the seismic shifts of the Quantitative Revolution and the “democratization of cartography.” At the heart of the problem is an overly strict reliance on Cartesian space. While de-spatializing data into network visualizations solves some problems, many lines of inquiry still require a rough concept of location. Geographers seldom need to fix entities’ locations to the nearest meter to understand relations of contiguity, proximity, and distance. Sometimes a qualitative (near/medium/far) or logarithmic scale of distance can also provide a more meaningful and layout-efficient visualization of underlying spatial patterns. In brief, sometimes space matters in interesting ways, but not so much so that insights require Cartesian precision in order to be seen. We propose a new method of visualizing spatial data in a manner that exists between Cartesian and networked interpretations of space, in an effort to expand analytical possibility through refusing strict adherence of either model. We will demo our prototype of a “pseudo-spatial” chart engine, where relative orientation of pre-selected landmarks is preserved, but distance is distorted according to given layout constraints. We will conclude with a series of use cases across disciplines, underlining our ultimate goal of taking relational spatial analysis beyond the pin map.

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