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1. Introduction to Digital Mapping > 1.2. The Difficulties of Making Maps

The Difficulties of Making Maps

If you’ve worked with maps, digital or conventional, you’ll know that despite my enthusiasm, mapping isn’t always easy. Why do we often find it so difficult to make maps of the world around us? How well could you map out the way you normally drive to the supermarket? Usually, it’s easier to describe your trip than it is to draw a map. Perhaps we have a perception of what a map must look like and therefore are afraid to draw our own, thinking it might look silly in comparison. Yet some maps drawn by a friend on a napkin might be of more use than any professional city map could ever be.

Personal Maps

The element of personal knowledge, rather than general knowledge, is what can make a somewhat useful map into one that is very powerful. When words fail to describe the location of something that isn’t general knowledge, a map can round out the picture for you. Maps can be used to supplement a verbal description, but because creating a map involves drawing a perspective from your head, it can be very intimidating. That intimidation and lack of ownership over maps has created an interesting dilemma. In our minds, maps are something that professionals create, not the average person. Yet a map like the one shown in Figure 1-1 can have much more meaning to someone than a professional map of the same area. So what are the professional maps lacking? They show mostly common information and often lack personal information that would make the map more useful or interesting to you.


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