Putting self on the map: An examination of user-driven mapping
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This thesis advances the basic argument that many people have difficulty interpreting cartographic information because that information has not been provided to meet their needs. Map users are wrongly regarded as passive users of a finished product. Original work in this thesis attempts to make the wishes of map users more prominent in the mapmaking process. The research is based upon the presupposition that people conduct communicative activity as a ritual, the form of which is designed to advantage some participants while imposing on others. Cartographic communication is examined on this basis and the map, as a form of ritualised communication, is deconstructed to yield insight into the participants in the mapping process. This deconstruction takes the form of a critical review of historical and contemporary cartography. The discussion of cartographic communication leads to a number of important advances in cartographic theory. The author presents a model of the mechanics of cartographic communication, and discusses the evocation and recovery of meaning from maps with reference to a recently-developed psycholinguistic theory of communication. The significant contribution of this thesis is found in the examination of alternative map subject matter and form. A map form incorporating elements of time as well as space is argued to be of more relevance to many map users. Results from a number of tests demonstrate that this alternative map form is well suited to the representation of personal data. The user-driven generation of cartographic subject matter is tested by the construction and operation of a Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) into which users can contribute data. Recorded use of this system, named Tourist Info, demonstrates that groups of users who are often disadvantaged in the provision of traditional cartography find Tourist Info helpful. This thesis concludes that it is both theoretically and practically possible to provide map users with the opportunity to determine the form and subject matter of maps relevant to their needs.