more simultaneous idea emergence

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This morning in the shower I was humming a Christine Lavin song to myself. It's called Rushcutter's Bay, and in it, she's singing about being in Australia. "I can't believe it's November, I'm upside down, The other side of the world."

So then I start thinking about "being upside down," in relation to location. And from there I wonder to myself whether compasses work the same way in Australia as they do in North America. (Yes, I realize as an educated person I should know this, but I don't.) Which leads me to start thinking about the concept of compass point directions, and then maps. "How effective were maps before we had compass points," I wonder. And since Joi Ito recently posted a comment regarding my post on mapping the infome, and I recently posted one to his blog about "maps" of social networks, I then get to thinking about Internet maps, and how perhaps the real problem with all these Internet visualization tools is that we don't have shared reference points to orient ourselves on them.

As I wasn't exactly in a place where it would be easy to blog this train of thoughts, I mentally filed it away for later. Then I found a trackback alert in my mailbox this afternoon, showing that Brandon Barr had linked to my post from his texturl blog. I followed the link, to his ghosts in the machine post. In it, he says:

The geographic and topographic metaphors are somewhat problematic to me. Joi Ito's comment to Liz's post touches on precisely what I find problematic: the utility of internet visualizations. The utility of Jevbratt's visualizations is difficult to place, because her maps are counter-inituitive to what we usually think of as a map. I would contend that the power of maps requires a degree of permanence in what they represent--if highways constantly shifted, Rand McNally would be out of business. So, one sees utility in a project to visualize the backbone of the internet, while one might see less hard utility in a static maps of dynamic web information flow. There is utility, but it isless tangible. More like catching ghosts.

Fun stuff, this.

There was more serendipity in the process, as well. While trying to find the link to Joi's social network diagram post, I stumbled on an other post of his in which he quotes Sean O'Reilly telling his brother Tim "Korzybski's brilliant observation, in the latter half of the 20th century, that the map is not the territory morphed into the bizarre idea that there is no territory at all, which to most rational individuals is simply absurd."

I've always loved that Korzybski quote--"The map is not the territory, the thing name is not the thing named." I first encountered it reading Bateson's Mind and Nature, which I've been wanting to go back and re-read lately in the context of the 'net as an organic entity.

There's an important thread in all of this, that I can't quite grasp in its entirety yet. But it helps a lot to put this much into words. More later.

1 Comment

eek! you caught my post mid-edit, mid-thought, and froze it. (catching a blog-ghost?)

thanks for the extra links on this subject--i look forward to the "more later."

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This page contains a single entry published on November 22, 2002 3:02 PM.

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