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Maps represent geographic knowledge understanding of where things are located, both objectively and relatively, and how it affects themselves or other things.

Map of the world oriented to the south (via http://odt.org/hdp/)


Maps display/convey geographic knowledge. They are used for physical navigation.


Directs users to areas of an interface in a “geographical” fashion.” Could analogize parts of interface with geographic entities based on relative use, e.g. a directory could be a “thoroughfare,” a comment forum a “meetingplace”).


Ideas like “close” and “far” could indicate relative similarity/difference in interface design and navigation by drawing on users’ experience with ubiquitous geographic concepts.


Illustrative map


Certain geographic symbols (roadsigns) or terms (commons, plaza) may be a bit culturally dependent, but the ideas of proximity, transportation, and navigation are universal.

Some scholars argue that maps or geographic knowledge is always subjective because they present a certain narrative of what is and isn’t important according to the map designer. For instance, even in famous satellite images they are not completely objective because the clouds are usually edited out and they the globe is usually oriented towards the north (also arbitrary).

NASA satellite photo of the Earth



Some relatively ‘navigationally challenged’ users may have an averse reaction (pessimism, anxiety) to certain aspects of geographic metaphors as it draws upon negative experiences of getting lost, being late, etc.


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