Maps as abstraction
Current discussions lately have led me to have a glance at the "critical cartography" field. Reading An Introduction to Critical Cartography by Jeremy W. Crampton and John Krygier was a good introduction to that. The part that interested me most was the one about the critiques of maps, as shown by this quote by Yves Lacoste: "The map, perhaps the central referent of geography, is, and has been, fundamentally an instrument of power. A map is an abstraction from concrete reality which was designed and motivated by practical (political and military) concerns; it is a way of representing space which facilitates its domination and control. To map…serves the practical interests of the State machine (Lacoste 1973: 1). "
Back to Crampton and Krygier:
"We define critical cartography as a one-two punch of new mapping practices and theoretical critique. Critical cartography challenges academic cartography by linking geographic knowledge with power, and thus is political. (...) The explicit critique of cartography and GIS that arose in the late 1980s should therefore be understood in this much longer tradition. While the former is better known, to overlook the latter is merely to “accept what cartographers tell us maps are supposed to be” (Harley 1989: 1). In fact, cartography as a way of knowing the world has constantly struggled with the status of its knowledge in a manner similar to that of the geographical discipline (Livingstone 1992). "
Why do I blog this? having worked on the user experience of location-based services, it's important to keep in mind how maps are not absolute representation of the reality but are definitely influenced by other factors (such a political or economical factors).