Mapping and diagramming

January 9, 2016 - Methods and Processes / Towards a Kit of Process

Map as process: A map that is part of the learning process, or development of ideas, or a timeline.





Clarifying ideas in Radical Pedagogies class. Design education students organise ideas, and as a result make patterns with post-it notes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.41.44 AMCarl DiSalvo community design research (screen shot from “A short rant on the what and why of public design”)

Map as language: A map that communicates an idea or process.



Dear Data, by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec

DSC00053David Kolb’s learning cycle

Map as research: A map that is the outcome of research.

Diagramming_v3-1Leon van Schaik’s pictograph of the Melbourne Architecture Community.

bbdDan Williams and Ingrid Burrington investigate visuals signifiers of the network infrastructure in central London.

Some things to consider:

Constructing viewpoints
A diagram or map is reductive; they are used to filter information. Through the process of mapping you are constructing a viewpoint about information you choose to map, and the information you choose to leave out. And, although the reductive quality of a map is useful for communication, it could also contribute to constructing social and political perspectives.

MIT published a short, but interesting article recently, asking “what would feminist data look like?”.

Donna Haraway writes in her essay Situated Knowledges:
“Feminist embodiment resists fixation and is insatiably curious about the webs of differential positioning. There is no single feminist standpoint because our maps require too many dimensions for that metaphor to ground our visions.”
(Haraway, 1988, p.590)

Like other texts, maps and diagrams are subject to interpretation. For example, although it may not be the intention, I interpret the “mediating lens” in this diagram to act like a brick wall between the designer and user (it looks similar to, and is positioned like a brick wall). The diagram is ambiguous.

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