Maps Are Like...

1. Paintings/drawings


Can maps be considered aesthetic objects?

How important is the "artist" in the map? We can tell the difference between two artist's drawings of the same thing -- is the same true of two cartographers, and does it matter?

2. Texts

Maps are "read", and contain symbolic structures and conventions, including words. They tell us something about the world. They are authored by someone (even if that person isn't identified).


Are maps more like fiction or non-fiction?
Is the author significant?
Is the audience significant?
Is understanding the context in which the map was made significant?

3. Diagrams/Illustrations

Diagrams usually have a descriptive quality. In some cases they are meant to visualize a concept, or to give an example of a concept, or to clarify.


Are maps illustrations? Of what?

What "concept" are they meant to represent?

4. Blueprints

Blueprints are conceptual or formal models, designed for the iteration in reality of the concept. You have a blueprint of a house, which directs the building of the house.


Are maps formal models? Are they conceptual, and if so, how? Do they direct anything?