What are the properties of maps?

“Maps”, “Mapping”, and “Roadmaps” feel like Suitcase Handle Words but there is a nugget of desire in using them. What are we really yearning for from a map?

  • Maps are multi-scale. You can get some information just by glancing at a map and then more and different information by zooming in. Fractals were literally discovered by someone mapping coastlines.Every time you zoom in on a fractal, it presents the same pattern on a different scale.
    • If a map doesn’t give you something useful on first glance, it’s not doing its job.
      • Most pure-text roadmaps fail on this point - it’s very hard to get something useful on first glance from pure text unless it has a well crafted outline.
    • If you can’t get different useful things when you investigate a map more closely it’s not doing its job.
  • Maps help you understand the state of something.
    • If you don’t understand the state of something better after looking at a map, it’s not doing its job.
  • Maps help you figure out possibilities. Even the medieval T-O map let you know that you could get to Africa from Europe by crossing the mediterranean.
    • Roadmaps explicitly point out those possibilities in an opinionated way.
    • If you can’t figure out possible (and unallowable moves) from a map, it’s not doing its job.

Types of maps

  • Conceptual

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