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In Chapter 16: Mapping and Placemaking Hinton talks about the different ways people perceive things and how that affects their actions. He describes the different ways people can perceive places and the tool that they use to describe them, which is maps. Hinton gives several examples of how different landmarks have influenced locals’ maps. Finally, Hinton uses this information and adapts it to a business model,  describing the organizational structures within most businesses and using a railroad model to help.

Maps and TerritoryEdit

In this section, Hinton begins by introducing mapping which is "a method that people have invented to establish context, using semantic information for the task” [1]. Basically, maps use the meaning of their content to give people information about the objects that they describe whether or not people have seen them. He then introduces territories and explains maps and territories from two different positions.

The first position is “The map is not the territory” [2]. This position says that the concepts people use for the world are not the same as the world itself.  Humans are influenced by their perception of the world and that can warp the facts. For example, a map drawn by someone might point to a “large lake” as a key landmark, but when someone else reads the map they overlook the same lake because they perceive it to be a “small lake.”

The second position is “In some ways, the map and territory are the same” [3]. Because humans do not just experience the world physically, it opens up some possible similarities between maps and the objects they are describing. An example of this are mall directories. Malls are not 2D pictures, yet people link the directories with the physical layout of the mall using the similarities between the two to get to where they need to be.

What Makes PlacesEdit

Hinton starts this section off by introducing placemaking and places. Places are defined not by their creation, but by the meaning that people give them. He then goes on to introduce the concept of “space” and says that it is part of another loop of human understanding.

Hinton references the work of Otto Friedrich Bollnow and his concept of hodological space, which is a space of paths and experience, which corresponds exactly to what people perceive if they move between two different locations. Bollnow’s works also argue that the idea of universal space is a relatively recent invention. His main point is that “Space is a collective, tacit agreement based on generations of culturally accumulated discourse” [4]. Basically, space is a collection of places and a specific space in is built up in the minds of its inhabitants through the collection of explanations and structures from previous and new inhabitants.

Hinton continues to explain how the relationship between places and objects is contextual. A building is a large object that is experienced as a place, a paragraph is placed in a book, and even the digital apps for smart phones have places within them.

Railroads, Chickens, and Captain VancouverEdit

In this section Hinton uses stories and figures to show that the semantic information people add to the environment plays a powerful role in how they comprehend, experience, and inhabit places.

The first set of stories revolves around three separate examples of how semantic information affected locations in Atlanta, Georgia. The first location is the town of East Point, situated in the southern part of Atlanta, which got its name because it was founded at the eastern terminus of a railroad. The second location is the Buckhead district, formerly known as Irbyville, whose name comes from the deer antlers that founder Henry Irby mounted on a wall in his general store. The final location is Marietta which is home to the “Big Chicken” which is a giant wooden chicken located at a restaurant. This caused all of the locals to associate Marietta with the big chicken; effectively making the big chicken part of the definition of the place that is Marietta.

The next story is from Vancouver, Canada in the late eighteenth century. The Europeans and Natives each had separate umwelts (“perceived” environments), the natives valued the sea and did not place much value in the land, while the pioneers valued the opposite. Even though they lived in the same location, cultural assumptions and language separated the two groups. The natives had lived their entire lives near the sea using it to gather most of the resources they needed for survival; this caused the sea to be the main focus of their umwelt. On the other hand, the pioneers came from a society where people worked the land to provide their resources and the main use for water was just transportation, causing land to be the main focus of their umwelt. When both parties inhabited the same location, it was hard for them to coexist because their maps and the way they perceived them were quite different from each other.

Towards the end of this section Hinton reinforces his thoughts by referencing different professionals. One of them, Charles O. Franke, says: “Culture does not provide a cognitive map, but rather a set of principles for map making and navigation” [5]. Maps are not created by the culture or location that people live in. The inhabitants themselves create the maps, but they are influenced by the place.

Organizational MapsEdit

In this section, Hinton starts off by explaining how structure is political, “…because it always potentially implies something about how people are organized in relation to one another.”[6] He is mainly referring to organizational structures and how they work in companies, describing how people interact with each other in the organization. He then shows how old this concept is, with the first corporate organizational chart ever made from the mid-nineteenth century, which describes the structure of the New York and Erie Railroad.

Hinton refers to David Weinberger’s work Everything is Miscellaneous to further describe the organizational concept in the modern corporate world. Weinberger goes into detail about the different kind of organizational structures in a company, stating that there are more than just the official ones imposed by the company or laws. Social connections like friendships, partnerships, and tutorships are part of their own organizational structure. This social structure is more dynamic and easily changed.

Hinton ends the section by stating how businesses can use semantic structures to benefit themselves. By changing the title of the employees, businesses can avoid paying taxes and benefits; this saves them money while negatively impacting the lives of the employees. This shows how much power organizational structures can have in the workplace.

AnalysisEdit

This chapter focuses heavily on people’s perceptions and context. Hinton says, “Just as context is bound up in our action and perception, rather than a static, external property, these cultural structures we live in are reinforced, restitched, preserved, or disrupted by our participation in those cultures” [7]. Protocols that have been ingrained in humans since before they can remember play an important part in the way they perceive facts now; those perceptions are what they use to create their personal maps for places and influence the structures that they are a part of.

There are many things that digital writers need to take into account before they can start producing content. In the words of Elizabeth Bacon: “We must excel in understanding people, technology, domains, problems; we must excel in providing definition to that understanding and advancing it towards a goal…” [8]. There are many factors that affect the comprehension and experiences of people, and digital writers need to understand all of it to be able to create a product that is usable by everyone. To do this it would help to take mapping into account because without it digital writers would likely succumb to their biases and their content would be better suited towards someone with the same map and protocols as the creator, which would be a minority compared to everyone else. At the same time, it’s nearly impossible to tailor content towards every single person who could possibly read it. Therefore, an organizational chart would be extremely useful to rank people in terms of priority and tailor the content for people with higher priority. Successfully using the techniques in this chapter would help the writer understand people and themselves better, allowing them to create better content.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 263
  2. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 263
  3. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 264
  4. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 266
  5. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 272
  6. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 273
  7. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 272
  8. http://deviseconsulting.com/defining-ux/

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