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

Lucas Godfrey, William Mackaness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cartography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2017


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