Gerloff: Mapping as Epistemic Practice (Session 6)

In my second contribution to the Digital Passage blog I wanted to try a more unconventional approach. I once worked a little on mapping techniques as epistemic practices and tools. This includes methods like mind mapping, concept mapping, or spatial hypertext. Nowadays they are used for all kinds of productivity purposes, but they also hold a strong theoretical connection to cognition and knowledge. Basically, such maps try to visualize a space of knowledge to provide a means to get an overview (theoria).

They also claim to enhance people’s memory in this way. Interestingly enough, one of the earlier works in this field developed the technique as a reading technique to make excerpts of a text:

A map is a graphic representation of the intellectual territory traveled or to be traveled via reading (See Figure 1.) It is a verbal picture of ideas which are organized and symbolized by the reader. (Hanf 1971, p. 225)

And:

Used as a study technique with SQ3R, as an aid to recall with an approach to rapid reading like Evelyn Wood’s, and as a substitute for note-taking and outlining, mapping is worthy of careful consideration for increasing reading comprehension and retention. (ibd.)

It goes without saying that this kind of practice ows a lot to some of the media techniques and symbolic operation systems mentioned in Passage des Digitalen. There are especially similarities with the Ramist diagrams. Of course one should be aware of the implied and materialized order of knowledge and cognition here.

Because of these connections to the contents of the book I thought it would be tempting to try out mapping as a reading and discussion technique here. This means, that all of you are invited to work on these two maps via the links provided beneath. You can see how Hanf’s example looked here:

Click to enlarge. M. Buckley Hanf: Mapping: A Technique for Translating Reading into Thinking, in: Journal of Reading Vol. 14, No. 4 (Jan., 1971), pp. 225-230, 270 Published by: Wiley Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40009605
Click to enlarge.
M. Buckley Hanf: Mapping: A Technique for Translating Reading into Thinking, in:
Journal of Reading
Vol. 14, No. 4 (Jan., 1971), pp. 225-230, 270
Published by: Wiley
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40009605

I wanted to incorporate two kinds of maps here. One that is close to Hanf’s original method and one that tries to be a little bit more of a representation of the relations of the mentioned concepts.

For the first one, Hanf recommended to use the labels of sections of the text, if they exist, as ‘secondary categories’. Thus, I inserted the sections of this session’s chapter in a clockwise direction. Following his suggestion, I added a label ‘evaluation’ which should be used to evaluate the reading. Obviously, I didn’t go through with the whole process. I just wanted to give you an impression and invite you to maybe complete it. The second section is rather large, so I felt the need to differentiate further, especially in the part on electricity and Franklin.

Das Ende der großen Bürokratie - Map
Click to enlarge.

If you want to collaborate on this map, modify or enhance it, you can do it following this link.

The second map is about the comparison between Euler’s investigation of the bangs in sound and Lessings semiotic theory of the arts in respect to the Laokoon sculpture. The analogy Siegert draws is depicted by the green connection, the difference by the red one. This is not supposed to be very advanced, it should just show you a little bit what might be done with such a technique (for those not so familiar with it). Maybe during the discussions or in my ongoing thinking in the next two weeks we or I can come up with a more elaborate map on a different part of the chapter.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

If you want to collaborate on this map, modify or enhance it, you can do it following this link.

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