Posted by: FarhanaJafri | December 22, 2012

It’s All About Maps!

It almost took me forever to think of the first topic to write in my blog. It is simply because I don’t feel very confident to share my little knowledge yet, then I realised that’s the whole point of blogging, isn’t it? It’s to share and hopefully to learn something from others. Perhaps, it is more proper for me to write on my personal opinion first before writing on a more specific topic.

The Why of Where

Spatial thinking is a cognitive skill that is useful in everyday life. In fact, you probably ask spatially questions without you even noticed! Whether you are at school, work or even at leisure, you probably ask these kind of questions, “Where is the nearest coffee shop?”, “Where do most people go for shopping?” Where can I find the cheapest accommodation within 1 km of my school?” etc… Haven’t you?

Spatial thinking occurs in diverse contexts. It is defined as the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to use concepts of space, tools of representation like maps and graphs, and processes of reasoning to organize and solve problems (Downs & de Souza 2005).  According to the National Research Council’s report, people should also have the “habits of mind” of thinking spatially, which means knowing where, how, and why on something. This habit is extremely beneficial in our daily lives where we may have a better approach for problem solving and decision-making.

Geography for instance, is no peculiar from this term. In my opinion, to think geographically is to think spatially; where geographers always consider objects in term of their locations and surroundings. The main interest in this spatial science context is the human-environment relationships, where geographers seek to answer why particular event occurs in such location by ‘spatialising’ non-spatial data from the real worlds into valuable information.  This is often done by visualisation such as map and graph.

The World of Maps

Peter Hagget, a well-known geographer once said, “Geography is the art of the mappable”. It is all about the presentation of the information. That’s why a picture is worth a thousand words… Because a single map can be interpreted in numerous ways!

Nowadays, maps have become an important part of society, where they are more widely used than ever before. We find maps in almost every resource: internet, Global Positioning System (GPS) in mobile phones and cars, newspapers, television and even in shopping complex when we use map to search for shops. Because of the widespread use of maps, it has become a new essential skill to know how to read, interpret and produce them.

My interest in spatial analysis was triggered by the art of cartography itself. Yes, the power of visualization that actually attracts my sense of thinking! Do you ever realise that color/presentation plays a big role in how we perceive something? The classic example, if you have a plate of appealing foods, you are more likely to enjoy the meal regardless of the taste.

That’s the thing! We only “see” after our brains interpret what is sent to them from the eyes. You can read more about how eyes and brain interpret objects here where our two eye balls have different functions! And.. the art of maps! This is where I found the attractiveness of learning spatial analysis and making good visualisation to deliver information.

Some of the great visualisations I ❤!

1) The World’s Biggest Airlines Map



2) The Blogosphere Map (the hyperbolic view)


3) Radical Cartography



4) Citation Pattern Map



5) Global Migration



Well, how can I not love these? Truly inspired me! You can check out for more cool visualisation here to get inspired too.

Until then, don’t forget to make a habit to think spatially, peeps! ツ




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