(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Maps as Instruments of Persuasion

What’s important to remember is that maps are not merely representations of the physical world. They are also cultural texts, lenses into the societies that create and use them, and they are often used as instruments of persuasion. … [T]hey do not display a whole truth–only a selected vision of the world.

Jeff Allen, “The Little-Known Capitalist History of the Highway Map,” Motherboard, Nov. 26, 2015

Like so many (all?) sorts of documents, maps do not provide a real representation of reality. Documents must be observed within their context in order to cull what they really do represent. Most of the time, we can get by without deep inquiry like this because many documents are accurate enough–like the road map–to be practicable. The potential danger lies in the moment when you forget the documents’ incompleteness, its necessary selectivity, and mistake the representation–the simulation–for the real.

I find this statement a good reminder too that all documents comprise arguments–this is an intrinsic part of their selective/subtractive nature as compositions. Rhetorical concerns touch every facet of communication, even those seemingly more utilitarian or unimportant communicative tools we use every day. The road map is a good reminder.


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This entry was posted on December 28, 2015 by and tagged , , .
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