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How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design Hardcover – June 9, 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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  • How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Should be required reading for anyone making maps." --C. E. Tiedemann, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Alan MacEachren has made a significant and important contribution to our understanding of cartography. The map is as old as societies themselves and is a fundamental building block of human knowledge. This book should be mandatory reading for all those interested in the role of maps in the emerging information era."--Professor D.R.F. Taylor, Ph.D., President, International Cartographic Association, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

"I believe this book to be a milestone in the literature of cartography. There have been texts on the history, on the production/design and to aid the teaching of maps and mapping but there has never been such a comprehensive and balanced examination of maps as tools. In many ways this is a most timely publication. With the emergence of computers onto the cartographic scene a new freedom is being offered to map conceivers and designers. Gone are the restrictions of the manual craft. Ahead there are only challenges. New softwares such as GIS are now opening opportunities to more than the professional cartographer, to use maps to explore as well as present spatial data at all scales. The main title, How Maps Work, could not be more appropriate. It challenges the author to take many viewpoints. The art/science debate in cartography is looked at afresh and new ideas offered. Also the research literature of map design and use has never been so effectively examined and evaluated. First impressions of the richness and scientific depth of its content may deter some beginners in map studies but I believe that it has something for many, if not all, facets of the potential cartographic readership. Layers of treatment can be detected, from sections which deal with more general issues to others which can offer the researcher a firm platform for new investigations.

Although there are many fine writers who have published in this field I believe that MacEachren, in spite of his relative youth, attracts wide respect among his peers. At international conferences and in all good contemporary cartographic writings his work is constantly referenced. What should also give readers confidence is that this book is not just a review of the work of others. The text builds on an impressive pedigree of research work conducted or supervised by him over the last fifteen years. More recently his investigations have been pioneering the new fields of scientific visualization through cartography and animation in particular. I, for one, am most grateful that he has taken the time and effort to distill his wide knowledge so effectively in this book.

With its rich array of subtopics, levels of treatment and specialized sections worthy of deep quarrying, and also its extensive and fascinating range of illustrations, I believe that this book can command a wide and varied readership. It will certainly become a foundation stone in my own teaching and research library." --Michael Wood, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
"In looking at maps as spatial representations that stimulate other spatial representations, Alan MacEachren provides an insightful and coherent examination of the cognitive mechanisms underlying map reading and map analysis. How Maps Work is a tour de force for academic cartography and other fields concerned with perceptual, cognitive and metaphysical aspects of spatial information--a masterful synthesis of interest to anyone curious about the map as a unique and valuable tool for exploration, discovery, and hypothesis testing."--Mark Monmonier, Ph.D., Professor of Geography, Syracuse University

"The book is a masterful synthesis--a tour de force that will be highly influential in academic cartography as well as in other fields concerned with perceptual, cognitive, and metaphysical aspects of spatial information. There is nothing like it, it's timely, and it will be read by the more influential scholars and decision-makers." --Mark Monmonier, Professor of Geography, Syracuse University

"I used the book in a graduate seminar series at SUNY-Buffalo... the book created a fabric for discussion which was rich enough and broad enough to support extensive and intensive scrutiny. The author mentions the support of Seymour Weingarten, Editor-in-Chief at Guilford Press, who 'was willing to take a chance on a cartographic book that was not an introductory text.' Mr. Weingarten is to be commended, as this book contributes to the formalization of knowledge on scientific visualization generally and cartographic representation in particular. Would I use the book in another graduate seminar? Absolutely. I recommend it to mapping-science and GIS professionals, to scientists working in computer vision, to everyone whose work involves creation of, or inference about, representations of spatial information." --BP Buttenfield, University of Colorado, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design

"The book is well produced and extensively illustrated." --David Forrest. University of Glasgow, Mapping Awareness


"This clearly is an important book....A thoughtful and thought-provoking intellectual treatise on the role of graphic representation in human perception, cognition, visualization, and communication. Although the vehicle for this journey is the geographic map, you will learn a great deal about yourself and your interaction with the environment along the way."
(URISA Journal 2004-06-23)

"I used the book in a graduate seminar series....The book created a fabric for discussion which was rich enough and broad enough to support extensive and intensive scrutiny....I recommend it to mapping science and GIS professionals, to scientists working in computer vision, to everyone whose work involves creation of, or inference about, representations of spatial information."
(Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 2004-06-23)

From the Back Cover

This book is the first systematic integration of cognitive and semiotic approaches to understanding maps as powerful, abstract, and synthetic spatial representations. Presenting a perspective built on four decades of cartographic research, along with research from other areas, it explores how maps work at multiple levels - from the individual to societal - and provides a cohesive picture of how the many representational choices inherent in mapping interact with the processing of information construction of knowledge. Utilizing this perspective, the author shows how the insights derived from a better understanding of maps can be used in future map design. Although computers now provide the graphic tools to produce maps of similar or better quality than those produced by previous manual techniques, they seldom incorporate the conceptual tools needed to make informed symbolization and design decisions. The search for these conceptual tools is the basis for How Maps Work.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 513 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (June 9, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898625890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898625899
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,996,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an exceptionally thorough guide to map representation both in design and function. If you love maps or use them a lot in your work, this is a truly great book to own. It covers both functional and lexical mapping techniques from both visual perception/cognition and semiotic design perspectives. Pose any question about mapping and this book can probably help you find the answer to it. This book will especially please information designers/architects.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book of such depth and with so much information packed into such little space deserves no less than five stars-unless the presentation is so poor that reading becomes a chore!

Make no mistake: this is a superb textbook. You get exactly what the title says: a comprehensive guide to principles of psychology, perception, semiotics, design, visualization-you name it. If there is an issue in the world that concerns map design, chances are excellent that you will find it in this book. The author is an expert in the field and it shows. If you think you can get beyond the usability problems, by all means buy this book and it will keep you thinking for a very long time.

Yet, for a book that has 'design' in its sub-title, clearly the design of the book itself was done with little consideration for the reader. The type is small, needs a better font and is cluttered with references, (text in parentheses) and "quoted phrases". It doesn't help that the text is poorly justified resulting in a ridiculous amount of hyphenation. You don't have to really read the whole book to see what I mean-just look at the table of contents. Does that look like a book designed by someone who cares about psychology, design, perception and visual presentation? There isn't even any space to take notes.

If you are used to reading scientific papers, you won't have much trouble because their presentation is usually far worse. Otherwise, be prepared for a rough ride.
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Format: Paperback
Information visualization, or "infoviz" has come into its own in recent years. While it has many pundits and scholars, there's nothing in the literature that approaches the breadth and quality of this book. MacEachren wisely states that the book is geared more towards cartographic concerns, rather than more generic information visualization applications. However, the vast majority of this enormous book is relevant for any information visualization application.

That said, the relative quality and importance of this book is higher for individuals making more complex visualizations. If you're just beginning, there are better options available.
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Format: Hardcover
My copy of this book is now chock full of scribbles in the margin - not doodles, mind you, but ideas and questions for research in cartographic design. There are a few doodles, too, but they're doodles of maps. The book asks as many questions as it answers, and as such makes a great text for researchers, students, and folks who want to look at what the future of cartography could be...
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