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Democratization of expert knowledge: map production and map use in new media landscapes

Working groupRealistic depictions Lab



Leibniz Competition

Project description

Interactive maps, for instance Google Maps, progressively replace the well-known road-atlas, hiking/biking maps and maps for educational purposes. The distinction between map makers and map users becomes more and more blurred as users are offered with tools to (co-)design the map by zooming in, pinning locations and depicting different information in one single map. In the project, we investigated whether the option to interactively edit maps is used and how it influences the perception as well as the transfer and evaluation of the depicted information.

The research project was concerned with the scarcely asked questions about the construction and editing of digital maps: What are the consequences of active map editing on the perception and cognition of these maps? Do different notations and editing tools lead to different perception and cognition processes? Does the engagement with map design and its numerous degrees of freedom lead to a generally changed attitude towards maps?

The cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig allowed for a user-centered, interdisciplinary approach. The cartographers, communication and cultural scientists focused more in the context of use and its conditions as well as on the analysis of actually offered and used cartographic languages, whereas the cognitive psychologists at the IWM focused on the influence of map representations and map editing on the perception and comprehension of the depicted information.


Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig