Geography 222 The Power of Maps
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Geog 222 Take Home Exam 1
Due: Monday October 26 by 9 am
Exam 1: Writey up a total of 10.5 pages + illustrations when requested.
- This is a thinky rather than memorizey and regurgitatey
exam. It will be, I guarantee, the most interesting exam you've taken in this course.
- Page Format: Use space-and-a-half spacing, 12
point type, and 1 inch margins.
- Review the detailed yet comprehendible Digital Submissions
Guide. Screw up the formatting and I will deduct points, make you fix
the problems, and charge you a nuisance fee.
- Include the question you are answering prior to each answer
(copy and paste from this page).
- Cite any sources you use in an appropriate manner. You may use
any materials for the exam (books, lecture notes, lecture outlines, the web,
talking to people) but cite them.
- Plagiarism is copying other people's work without citation. Yes,
copying stuff from previous semester exams is plagiarism. You
can discuss the questions with each other but don't copy each other's work. I can
easily compare digital texts and have copies from previous semesters.
- Please contact me (email@example.com) if you have any questions.
- More insightful, creative, and interesting answers will get higher grades.
You are being graded in relation to your peers in the class.
- Compile your answers into a single file, saved in your shared Geog 222
folder, and email me when it is
complete. Make sure I respond
that I was able to access your masterpiece.
1. Maps as Arguments: 2 1/2 pages with illustrative maps
When defining maps,
early in the semester, I suggested they might be understood as propositions, or arguments
about the world. Review a lovely little comic constructed to argue this premise:
Ce N'est Pas le Monde. Remember this is meant to be a little booklet with
- 1/2 page: summarize what is meant by defining a map as a proposition or argument.
- 1 page including map: describe how a typical classroom political map of the world is an argument about
the world (you can use the one in our classroom or here is the CIA's version)
- 1 page including map: find and describe another map as an argument about the world - from class (lecture outlines, exercises)
or from anywhere on the internets. Include a small version of the map in you answer.
2. Map Reading, Analysis & Interpretation: 2 pages
I defined "map use" as map reading, map analysis, and map interpretation back in a memorable
the nature of cartographic maps (in particular, "4. Map Use: Map Reading, Map Analysis, Map Interpretation").
While these three steps happen almost simultaneously when you look at a map, humor me and
separate them out as applied to two of the maps below.
- 1 page for each map: Map reading (1/4 page), map analysis (1/4 page), map interpretation (1/2 page).
- Don't include the maps in the exam, but mention which ones you are discussing.
- Feel free to compare two of the maps in your interpretation of each of them.
- Right mouse click to open a larger version of each map:
3. Locational Privacy: 3 pages + illustrative map or two
Maps show us data, and data comes from a diversity of sources. In class we discussed GPS and
cell phone tower triangulation, which allows a smart phone to generate a relatively accurate
location for itself. When your phone is location enabled, you benefit - directions, nearby
shopping or eating, etc. But you are not the only one who benefits by knowing where you are.
Google, for example, uses data from your location enabled phone to generate its rather useful
- 1 Page: Take a look at Google Maps on your phone or on the web (on the web, click on
the word traffic under the search window). Zoom to around Delaware/Columbus, your US
home, and anywhere else you want to see how the traffic is doing. Comment on your
thoughts about this feature of Google Maps, if you use it, or if you might use it,
and how. Include an image of the traffic around your US home.
- On an iPhone do the following: Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services >
Frequent Locations, then click on any of the locations. You can check this on a friend's
iPhone if you don't have one, or check (if you have a non iPhone smart phone) for a similar
- 1 Page: Read the articles below and watch the vid below, and write a page or so summary:
- 2 Pages: Locational privacy, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
"is the ability of an individual to move in public space with the expectation that under
normal circumstances their location will not be systematically and secretly recorded for
later use." Take a look at Epic.org's
resource page on locational privacy, and consider the general impact of locational
privacy on yourself:
- Describe instances where your location is not private. Think on this a bit, then
describe if you have a problem with this lack of locational privacy.
- Describe an instance
where you would be unwilling to give up locational privacy, and why. For example, how would
you feel if your employer wanted to know your location at all times during regular work hours?
A girlfriend/boyfriend? Spouse? Parent?
- Comment in
general about your perspective on the "threat" - or lack of threat - of the general decrease
in locational privacy. Do you worry about what the Government could do with this information?
4. The Power of Maps - real or fictional? 3 pages
Read the review article by Muehrcke and Muehrcke on Maps in Literature
and the two fictional short stories by Munby and Borges (all three linked as PDF
files on the schedule for this week).
The Muehrcke's "Maps in Literature" articles uses many old-school literary
examples to highlight interesting characteristics of maps. Below find five of
the general ideas they explore, with references to specific examples in their
- The paradox of mapping
- p. 317: maps can't reproduce complex reality, but that is their allure
- p. 319: maps can't be both revealing and complete
- p. 323: marks on sheet brings to mind a multidimensional world, emotions...
- p. 329: fascination: map as more and less than itself; truthful but omits much
- p. 337: map projections, scale reduction, static, selective, abstract: but allow
us to see reality much better, understand, spur imagination...
- Imaginative map use
- p. 319: need to have an imagination to read a map
- p. 320: imaginative map use leads to a map being more than itself
- Unimaginative map use
- p. 320: objective, detached, emotionless decision making: military
- Mistaking the map for the landscape
- p. 323: related to unimaginative map use: but quite imaginative
- p. 324: reading maps instead of traveling?
- p. 325: blank spaces spur imagination
- p. 334-5: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: the color of the states
- The authority of maps
- p. 326: maps more authoritative than words? people not critical of maps?
- p. 326: Catch-22 (Heller): change the map, change reality
The review article by Muehrcke and Muehrcke on Maps in Literature and the two fictional
short stories by Munby and Borges suggest a curious map paradox:
If a map's power comes from how well it represents "reality," then why are maps of
non-existent places so common in fiction? How is it that a map works well even when
the reality it shows is made up?
It is possible that such "map stories" are a really important way to make sense out of maps and
their power. In other words, the "power of maps" is not only about how well maps show "reality"
but about something else.
For example: in the Munby ghost story we can see how the power of maps in part derives from our
trust that they show "reality" accurately, and won't lead us astray. Thus we
tend to not be very critical of maps.
In the Borges story, which is somewhat more challenging to make sense out of,
we can see how the power of maps in part
relates to their ability to simplify, generalize, and vastly reduce the complexity of reality. Too
much information is a problem! It will kill you!
With all these deep thoughts in mind, write a 3 page short story - wholly crap, fiction - that gets some important
characteristic of the power of maps.
Potential "big" ideas for your story may come from:
Jot down a few of the more interesting (to you) ideas from class lectures or the readings and use
these to concoct your story.
- The discussion in the first class lecture
(in some cases expanded in later lectures): The power of maps and GIS derives from:
- maps as an ancient phenomena familiar to many different cultures
- major technological advances and impact
- maps kill!
- discoveries with maps: we learn new things from maps, rather than just
show what we know
- maps shape how we see the world
- Other lecture outlines from class to date.
- The Muehrcke, Munby, and Borges readings (see the
lecture notes on these readings).
- The Monmonier and Krygier/Wood readings:
- Monmonier ch. 5 Maps that Advertise
- Monmonier ch. 6 Development Maps
- Monmonier ch. 7 Propaganda Maps
- Monmonier ch. 8 Defense Maps
- Monmonier ch. 9 Large Scale Maps
- Krygier & Wood ch. 1, 2, and 4 + blog
Concocting a fictional story may seem a bit peculiar but what the heck.
The key here, I think, will be picking the right idea. Can you make up a story
that gets at any of the issues raised by the psychogeography maps you made? A story based
on historical maps? Or a story based on the loss of locational privacy? About getting lost
due to maps, or finding yourself? About following a map into a mysterious place with no
temperature?! Or a story
that is influenced by the issues raised in the Muehrcke and Muehrcke article (and the
literature they cite - question 3)? If you are a rock climber, how might maps play into
that activity? If you would like to be a ship's captain, how might maps play into that activity?
If you are into science fiction, how might maps be the focus of a scifi tale? What about
fictionalized stories based on your own (or other's) experiences? A child's fantasies
about maps? Birds reading maps? Map tattoos that cause trouble? Maps made of scrambled
eggs that change the world? Anything goes, so go crazy. For this semester, just to provide
me with a break, lets skip the typical "I found a treasure map" story!
The style of your story can be realistic, or fantasy, science fiction, horror, or mystery, or whatever.
Just be creative and try to have more fun than stress.
Feel free to bounce ideas off of me. Good luck!
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