Monday, February 18, 2008

Mapping Information Space

At the recent VizThink conference, I attended a couple of breakout sessions on mapping; Bruce Daniel's "VizMaps: An Alternate Approach to Describing Where" and John Grimwade's "Mapping the Possibilities."

At the time, I wasn't really sure what attracted me to these two mapping sessions, but reflecting upon it now, I think I was hoping that one or both might delve into the realms of non-real world mapping. I was having a tough time putting my finger on what that meant, what my expectations from these sessions had been, and what more I wanted out of them and it occurred to me that what I was after was something I'll call Mapping Information Space.

I've been working in computers as either a computer systems analyst, programmer or web developer since 1994 and over those years I've dealt with the design of computer systems and had to "map" data and information flow, processes, interactions between user and system, etc. Most of these have had at least some visual explanation component to them.

In all those years I was making diagrams of information flow, human-computer interactions, and what-not, I never really considered it to be mapping. But now that this vague concept has been forming in my brain since VizThink, I think that's exactly the right term. So, in an effort to try to discover the information space mapping terrain, I want to do some research on the subject and document it here in this blog. And, who knows, maybe I'll be able to find out enough and find enough experts and interest to recommend it as a topic of VizThink '09.

To start things out, I Googled the words mapping information space. This resulted in 21,900,000 results. One of the first on the results page is this site called, An Atlas of Cyberspace. I've only skimmed it a bit so far, but looks like interesting stuff.

Another of the results I found is a book titled, "Cybercartography Theory and Practice." It appears to define cybercartography as "a new paradigm for maps and mapping in the information era. Defined as 'the organization, presentation, analysis and communication of spatially referenced information on a wide variety of topics of interest to society...' " Hmm. Looks like cybercartography might the the 'official' term for what I'm looking for. There's even a Wikipedia entry for it.

Ok. Enough for now. Time to go exploring and see what else I can find.

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