In recent decades, all sorts of disciplines, from criminology to mental health and psychology, have undergone quite a bit of re-thinking. It turns out that a lot of the theories about psychology and criminality were bound by culture. In many, cases they were informed by biases and prejudices of the ruling class, and this has led to all sorts of oppressions, inequalities and inequities. This trend of deconstructing our social practices and social infrastructures really blossomed in the 1980s.
It reached a golden age in the 1980s, and it seemed like there was no such thing as a sacred cow. You can hang on to your sacred cow, but thanks to this deconstructivism and anti-institutional mindset, you can bet that your sacred cow will eventually get turned into hamburger.
It seemed like no human discipline was free from deconstruction. It is this spirit that we have to attack mapping because it’s easy to think that mapping is a simple matter of finding coordinates, or looking at how many how many ways that coordinates can be possibly laid out to set a limit for it. The whole idea of a logical and rational framework for coordinates in itself is subject to attack. It’s susceptible to the information that culture makes available.
Math, as seemingly objective as it is, has a cultural background. Sciences, like biology, have a cultural background. We would really be doing ourselves a big disservice if we turn a blind eye to these cultural inputs because when theory is interpreted in a certain background, ultimately yields actions.
These actions are not free-floating, neutral, or value independent. They come from somewhere they are part of some sort of historical period. They are a reflection of a somewhat agenda, and if we choose to ignore all of these, it’s easy to set ourselves up with the thinking that there is some sort of objective truth that is free from any agenda or cultural pollution.
At timemap.net, we believe in exploding and getting past all sorts of limitations. That’s why we believe that mapping is culture-bound. It’s a specific implementation of a specific culture that has a specific range of agendas and interests at a particular time. Change any of these variables and it would be highly likely that the manifestations that you see, as well as the implementations, would vary tremendously. This should not be a surprise or rocket science.
Accordingly, we make a big deal out of the fact that mapping has all sorts of cultural prerogatives behind it. It may not be obvious, but they are there. It’s kind of like observing radio waves. You obviously cannot see radio waves, but you can definitely feel or perceive its effects when you turn on a radio or Wi-Fi.
Keep this in mind because culture is very powerful. It can distort, as well as illuminate. It can push forward, as well as drag down, and chances are you would be a victim of it if you choose to remain ignorant of it.