distortion effects – known difficulties with maps

Harpold (1999) argues that maps of the Internet similarly contain considerable, conscious and unconscious, bias and distortion:

I propose that these depictions of network activity are embedded in unacknowledged and pernicious metageographies – sign systems that organize geographical knowledge into visual schemes that seem straightforward …, but which depend on historically and politically inflected misrepresentation of underlying material conditions. (Harpold 1999).

Maps of the Internet are systems of power-knowledge. As such, we should be careful to look beyond the data generated to question, in a broad sense, for whom a particular map was made, by what organization, why it was produced, and what the implications of its message are. Two of the most serious distortions are the use of dominant Western, particularly Ameri-centric, world views to frame the data presented and the inherent propagation of ecological fallacies that are present in the most commonly used map designs.
from here

Eventhough there are attempts to create different views the crucial point is that the perceptual field is always intertwined with social codings of the viewer. Thus there is also an inherent distortion if handed over to machines – remote devices to see or sense territory. The necessary work of de-coding then becomes replaced through a re-coding on the level of informational data.
The following description of cyberspace defines it as an purely imagined space ..

Examining cyberspace on the basis of first principles requires us to understand what cyberspace is and how it supports human activity and aspirations. If we characterize cyberspace as the spatial reference used in electronic media, we are still left with defining space itself. What we experience as space is actually the product of complex mental processes. The dimensionalized environment of thought and experience, is a powerful tool for thought. It presents a relational array of sensation and thought in a matrix of our own making.
As a result space, as an artifact of cognition, only contains products of mental processes. Even concrete objects undergo cultural and linguistic manipulations as we place them in our field of awareness. All objects of our attention are imbued with meaning, whether through deliberate signals of our culture, or the inferred construction of our mental image. …from here

.. which I think logical and again, as Harpold expressed their deep social and cultural embedment has to be taken into account too. Especially the way those imaginaries of spaces and their maps transport unconcious perspectives through their predefined technical sources .. as it is the case with so called cyberspace.

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