Cognitive Issues

Cognition and Wayfinding

3608.3 - The bounds of distortion: truth, meaning and efficacy in digital geographic representation

Monday, July 3
3:30 PM - 3:50 PM
Location: Maryland C

Even maps that strive for a precise representation of spatial relationships use techniques of distortion to embed a geographic extent within a two dimensional plane – be it a page or a screen. The graphical design of geospatial information does however conform to a consensus around the conceptual limits of that distortion, with an overall design framework that constrains the design to ensure comprehension and the effective recognition of geographic entities and relations. Although constraints are necessary, we argue that the advent of digital technology, particularly in mobile mapping, warrants re-examination of the parameters of these distortions. Here we introduce the concept of ‘the bounds of distortion’ as a device for considering the conceptual boundaries of map design, and as a foundation for further work to investigate how these bounds may be redefined to better support map users with more effective graphical information. The focus here is navigational information, and in particular urban navigation and interaction with the graphical representation of urban geography and public transport networks.

Lucas Godfrey

PhD Researcher
The University of Edinburgh

Working across research groups in the Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment and the Centre for Design Informatics, I am engaged in an on-going multidisciplinary project with a focus on map efficacy on mobile devices. My background is in the design industry, and I joined the School of GeoSciences to explore the application of user-centred design in the context of interaction with spatial data and innovation in automated cartography.


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Sara Irina Fabrikant

University of Zurich

Sara Irina Fabrikant, a Swiss Mapematician and Geography Professor is Head Teaching of the Geography Department at the University of Zurich, where she also heads the Geographic Information Visualisation and Analysis Group. She currently serves the ICA as a Vice President. Her research interests lie in geovisual analytics, GIScience and cognition, and dynamic cartography. She is a member of the Swiss Science & Innovation Council. She has been the program committee co-chair of various conferences (e.g., AGILE 2008, GIScience 2010, CartoCon 2014, COSIT 2015), and also serves as a member of various editorial journal boards in her field of research.


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3608.3 - The bounds of distortion: truth, meaning and efficacy in digital geographic representation

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