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“Maps are arguments.” There’s a great Denis Wood...

Feb 09, 2012
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“Maps are arguments.” There’s a great Denis Wood interview by Blake Butler worth seeking out in last month’s Believer where they talk about cartography, maps, and Wood’s book, Everything Sings.


  If you compare Google Earth and Google Maps, for example, Google Earth in its naked, unlayered form is a bunch of pictures. They’re not maps. You have no idea what you’re looking at, and to the extent that you do have some idea, it’s something you’re bringing to the image. Pictures and words don’t have anything to do with each other. If you look at Google Maps, on the other hand, or an annotated version of Google Earth, which turns it into a map—there’s a label that says this is a desert, this is a mountain, this is a river, this is Kazakhstan, this is Mongolia—well, that’s what makes a map something other than a picture…


Filed under: maps

Update: here’s a PDF of the interview on Wood’s site.

“Maps are arguments.” There’s a great Denis Wood interview by Blake Butler worth seeking out in last month’s Believer where they talk about cartography, maps, and Wood’s book, Everything Sings.

If you compare Google Earth and Google Maps, for example, Google Earth in its naked, unlayered form is a bunch of pictures. They’re not maps. You have no idea what you’re looking at, and to the extent that you do have some idea, it’s something you’re bringing to the image. Pictures and words don’t have anything to do with each other. If you look at Google Maps, on the other hand, or an annotated version of Google Earth, which turns it into a map—there’s a label that says this is a desert, this is a mountain, this is a river, this is Kazakhstan, this is Mongolia—well, that’s what makes a map something other than a picture…

Filed under: maps

Update: here’s a PDF of the interview on Wood’s site.

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  13. whatitalkaboutwhenitalkabout reblogged this from slavin and added:
    “Maps are arguments.” Excerpt from a fantastic interview with counterculture cartographer Denis Wood, whose Everything...
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  16. melaniegarza reblogged this from believermag
  17. andreagin reblogged this from believermag and added:
    Such an interesting idea…
  18. dippingandrising reblogged this from curiositycounts and added:
    It’s worth noting that the whole “maps are arguments" thing was radical when Wood started writing. It’s obvious now, but...
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