Note — May 31, 2020

Thinking in Maps: From the Lascaux Caves to Knowledge Graphs

From a recent favourite, Anne-Laure Le Cunff, the history of the use of maps for thinking. Goes through some of the history of written language, Mesopotamia, Egyptians, pictograms, ideograms, and logograms, Da Vinci, “org charts” in a Bible, Newton, and Disney. Le Cunff then looks at contemporary ways of visually representing complex ideas, at new ways of thinking in maps, and finishes with ontologies and their use “to limit complexity and turn raw information into knowledge.”

When thinking in maps, word-maps (pictograms, ideograms, logograms and other visual symbols) are often amalgamated with world-maps (physical or mental space maps) to create visual representations of our knowledge, beliefs, or questions. […]

“These are the principles for the development of a complete mind: study the science of art, study the art of science. Realise that everything connects to everything else.” […]

[C]oncept maps use a context frame instead of a specific starting point. The relationship between concepts can be articulated in linking phrases such as “contributes to”, “includes” or “shows”, and bi-directional links can be used to capture complex relationships between concepts with reciprocal interactions. […]

Indeed, knowledge graphs, used as a way to formally represent the meaning of information by describing concepts, categories, and relationships between concepts, appear to be one of the most established and most efficient modern ontology visualisation methods.