MAS 965 : Social Visualizations
Tripti Gore Chandorkar

Assignment 10 - Maps and Metaphors

Mental Map

To compare the two maps, I have overlaid and highlighted the landmarks shown on my mental map on the geographical map. Before writing this essay, I saw Francis' representation of his environment. My reflection on my map starts here. I saw that Francis' map had much more depiction of Cambridge than mine and he has given equal representational weightage to Boston as well as Cambridge. To me it suggests that he spends most of his time equally in both the places. Looking at my map, I realize that my representation mainly concentrates on Boston and that too, most of the places that I pass through the orange line daily or the ones that I visit often and are close to MIT. Infact when I finished depicting MIT, Sloan and little bit of Harvard along the river, I thought of going ahead and showing some parts of Harvard Square that I visit over weekends. By I did not draw it as I was falling short of space and I thought since I do not visit or see Harvard Square everyday, it was not importnat to show in my mental map. I started drawing the map from the upper left corner with Malden(where I live) as the starting point on the train route. It is interesting for me to observe that I have depicted all the train stops from Malden to Downtown crossing with a monotonous dot for each. That is because when I am in the train, I do not experience the characteristic of the place, I only see stations that are similar to each other. Although I show the Haymarket stop as a dot, I show Fanueil Hall with a unique architectural symbol even though it is part of Haymarket. I have shown North end both as a dot(the train stop) as well as a 'tomato' symbol (not visible in the scanned picture) as I like and visit that neighborhood for good Italian food. It is evident to me that I have used representative symbols for most of the places that I like or visit very often. I like MIT too and I was going to represent it with the quintessential dome, but decided against it. I have drawn the river, my daily train route and the streets with straight lines although they are winding and curved in the geographical image. I can attribute that representation to my visual experience when I travel through the space. When I am driving/ walking on Mass Ave or traveling in the orange line, I experience a straight path not a winding path. Also, the streets on my map are perpendicular to each other but the same streets on the yahoo map are at different angles to each other. Again this is because when I walk on these streets, visually they are straight. So even though they may be at an angle to another street or landmark, it does not register in my mind. I have placed some of the landmarks in my map in wrong locations. For example, the Prudential Tower, the theatre district and South End. I was confused about the location of Prudential Tower as it is visible from many places across the river and at the time of drawing I could not pin point its exact location. I have made a blunder with the co-relation of Boston Commons with Newbury and Boylston Streets. My memory of the two streets being perpendicular to Mass Ave is so strong that it made me forget that Boston Commons is located at the other end of these streets.

Email Map
This is a map of my inbox emails in the last few days. I have enclosed all my emails in the order of their receipt in a box, that represents my immediate surrounding space of MIT/ Cambridge/Boston. I seem to have used a spatial boxed metaphor to limit my surroundings. All emails that come from within this space are boxed in while the ones outside come from different geopgraphical locations. While sketching this, I imagined a world atlas on the paper, and hence I have metaphorically represented the path of the emails from India, all the way down in the south (as it is on the atlas in relation to USA). Same holds true for the email from Seattle. I always mentally associate Seattle to be at the northmost left of the map of USA. So even though Seattle is not very much north of Boston in reality, I could not break away from that image. In the box, an email 'above' another is 'older '. I see a metaphor working here for 'older' is 'above' and 'newer' is 'below'. I have put a metaphorical '?' for the location of an email from as I do not associate with physicality and I feel it resides only on the web . I have no idea which physical office of could have sent the email.