Cartographic Multimedia and Praxis in Human Geography and the Social Sciences

Early, unrevised version of a chapter in Multimedia Cartography edited by William Cartwright, Michael Peterson, and Georg Gartner in 1999. Please do not quote without permission.

The most vital issues in multimedia cartography are not technical issues. Cartographic multimedia has great potential for human geographers and social scientists engaged in attempts to understand and represent complex human and social environments through space and over time. This potential can be realized if we, as cartographers, approach cartographic multimedia as a substantive method, with a conceptual and theoretical foundation, rather than as a technology in search of applications.

As a practicing cartographic designer with research interests in cartography and human geography, I seek the most appropriate cartographic medium (paper, computer screen) to explore and present information and ideas about people and landscapes. I base my work and research on praxis - a theorized practice. I am not interested in only doing, but in understanding the conceptual and theoretical basis upon which I base my doing, my work. Two theoretical bases - psychology and semiotics - have dominated praxis in cartography. Mine, however, is a praxis based primarily on social theory. Alas, while social theories strongly inform my practice, psychological and semiotic theories also play a role. Further, the ideas discussed in this chapter are relevant for all approaches to cartographic multimedia, at both practical and conceptual levels. This chapter examines what I believe to be two vital elements of the praxis of cartographic multimedia in the context of research in human geography and the social sciences: the intellectual design and evaluation of multimedia cartography.

I have drawn several strands of my research together under the name of 'Public Participation Visualization' (Krygier 1998). An example of 'PPVis' (which I am currently developing) is a World Wide Web site for a neighborhood in Buffalo New York which allows community members to access, interact with, and add information to maps with basic geographic information system functionality. At its simplest, this 'multimedia' site will provide map-based information to community members; more sophisticated functions will allow individuals and groups to visualize alternative scenarios for community based issues (deteriorating housing, for example). Based on MacEachren's 'cartography cubed' (MacEachren 1994a) this type of map use is ultimately aimed at revealing unknowns, with high human-map interaction, in a public setting. Thus it is more public (because the WWW is the medium) and also, at its most sophisticated, more about visualization than communication of information.

I believe that public participation visualization is one form of multimedia cartography, and I will use 'multimedia cartography' to describe both in this chapter. Multimedia cartography and PPVis involve issues of design, production and implementation, and evaluation in the context of new and emerging technologies (such as WWW-based interactive multimedia mapping). The Buffalo WWW site is being constructed based on substantive ideas (concepts, theories) from human geography and the social sciences. The way in which time (history), space (geography), activities, and the people involved are represented is drawn from research in human geography (Pred 1984, Sayer 1992). As I am interested in understanding and assessing the complex social interactions of my users, which shape and are shaped by the content and functions of the WWW site, I turn to social, rather than psychological or semiological, theories as the foundation of my work. Brenda Dervin's social-theoretical Sense-Making approach, for example, serves as an important means for evaluating the impact of my PPVis project, and will be described later in this paper.

Given the context of multimedia cartography, public participation visualization, and conceptual issues in human geography, the social sciences, and social theory, I find two questions of vital importance to my praxis:

How do we understand the new representational possibilities offered by multimedia cartography?

How do we understand how and if multimedia cartography is working?

I examine these two questions in the two major sections of this chapter. My approach is based in part on my previous research, and draws from ideas from human geography and the social sciences. My primary goal is to suggest the importance and potential of conceptual and theoretical guidance in the practice of multimedia cartography.

What are we Doing? Intellectual Design, Praxis, and the Representational Possibilities of Multimedia Cartography

How do we understand the new representational possibilities offered by multimedia cartography and public participation visualization? As cartographers, we are used to dealing with the relationship between data and cartographic forms - matching symbols to referents (illustration or sketch). For example, the visual variables allow us to match data (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio) to visual marks (which vary by size, shape, etc.). The idea of a data model (described by Jenks 1967, modified by MacEachren 1994b) allows us to select the most appropriate map type (graduated symbol, choropleth, etc.) given the nature of the phenomena we are representing (illustration or sketch). The visual variables and data model idea are both basic elements of cartographic praxis: conceptual and theoretical bases which shape the practice of making maps. As long as we have relatively simple data we are representing (different factory types at different locations, AIDS data collected by county) the visual variables and data model methods work quite well.

Alas, as any cartographer knows, not all decisions about the design of a map are dictated by these basic methods. In creating a poster-sized map of the historical geography of the State College Pennsylvania region, I was confronted with the need to both tell (via words) and show (via graphics) multiple overlapping stories spanning several hundred years, linked to specific locations (cite map; illustration or sketch). The intellectual design - the coherent visual narrative (one of many possible) I chose to show - was one of the most difficult steps in the cartographic process. This intellectual design was derived from extensive experiences in the landscape being represented, archival and library research, and, most importantly, concepts and theories from human, cultural, and historical geography. This intellectual design, shaped by conceptual and theoretical ideas from outside the traditional realm of cartography, is as vital and necessary as making the correct decisions about typography and symbolization, and it is a fundamental element in my praxis. Sometimes we (as cartographers) depend on our own knowledge to inspire the intellectual design [examples: the intellectual design of the hypermedia application in my dissertation (sketch). Karl Raitz's landform maps and his understanding of geomorphology and geology. Historical Atlas of Canada]. Sometimes we turn to content experts. [examples: SLC View]. In either case, the importance of the intellectual design of a cartographic representation should be of no surprise to anyone who has designed a substantial printed map or atlas.

Cartographers are now confronted with a spate of new media: animated and dynamic maps, simulated terrain fly-by's, interactive maps, and multimedia (text, image, map, sound, touch) maps. The representational possibilities of such media have been heralded for years. Heinz Soffner speculated wildly about an earlier generation of multimedia cartography in 1942:

"In the motion picture lies a highly essential but much neglected field for pictorial statistics.... [T]he screen offers the best imaginable opportunities for "dynamic" visual information. On the screen arrows can really move as opposing armies advance or retreat, statistical columns can grow or shrink, frontiers can be violated and empires can literally "crumble." The effect created by such "living" maps and graphs can be further heightened by an effective accompaniment of words or music. One could both see and hear a "frontier" "break down," the tramping "men" in the statistical column "join the army," "the whistling ships" slide down the ways and the like.... These few suggestions indicate how great can be the improvement in the techniques and therefore the effectiveness of visual means for conveying information about the war." [pp. 476-77]

Cornwell and Robinson (1966), Tobler (1970), and Moellering (1973) made Soffner's vision a reality by envisioning the computer (rather than film) as the most appropriate medium upon which to base animated and multimedia cartography. Campbell and Egbert (1990) concluded that as of 1990 cartographers were really only 'scratching the surface' of this new media. The chapters in this book (and others, within and outside of cartography) reveals the state-of-the-art and makes it clear that we are dealing with a very different medium than paper. While traditional cartographic design methods, such as the visual variables, still apply, they need to be extended or modified given the representational possibilities of multimedia cartography. The visual variables are, thus, extended to include dynamic variables (DiBiase et al 1992) (illustration or sketch) and sound variables (Krygier 1994) (illustration or sketch) and 'hypermaps' (Krygier 1995, Kraak 199?) (illustration or sketch of my diss hyper graphics). All of us, and our students, have experimented with these new techniques: lines move, point symbols grow, choropleth maps flash by, images and video clips are hyper-linked to locations on maps, terrain fly-by's fly-by some digital terrain.

But what of the intellectual design of multimedia maps? What about the theorized practice - praxis - of multimedia cartography which produces the intellectual design? How has praxis changed as new computer-based media become available to us? Granted, not all multimedia maps need much of an intellectual design. My first computer based multimedia map (created with Hypercard in 1988) consisted of some flashing symbols and links to text and images. An animated choropleth map of population change in New York, 1900 - 1990 does not require much intellectual work beyond choosing the appropriate classification method and color scheme. While possibly interesting and useful, these are not applications which push the representational possibilities of multimedia cartography. What about applications that do?

We are confronted with the same general issue of intellectual design and praxis as we have been in the past with sophisticated printed maps and atlases. While the medium has changed, the need for a coherent intellectual design has not. Yet this intellectual design process must incorporate differences in medium (digital multimedia, not paper) and the possibilities for representing our content: how we represent the historical geographies of State College Pennsylvania, for example, can be substantially different given digital multimedia rather than paper as the medium. How do we structure and link maps, text, video, sound, graphs, animations, and images? This must be, I suggest, guided by a coherent intellectual design.

For human geographers and social scientists, cartographic multimedia offers substantive methods for both understanding and representing complex human and social environments through space and over time. I am particularly intrigued by the manner in which current concepts and theories in human geography and social theory relate to certain fundamental aspects of multimedia cartography - the significance of interconnected representational forms, related to the idea of intertextuality (Cosgrove 1984), the spatiality of the map, linked to the development of spatial components of social theory (Sayer 1992), and hypermedia, linked to hypertextual theory (Bolter 1991, Landow 1992). Such theories can shape our tangible representations, and our representations can, come to inform and reshape our theories (Krygier 1996, Dorling and Fairbairn 1997). My goal in the rest of this section is to suggest the manner in which these conceptual and theoretical ideas can serve as a substantive basis for the intellectual design and praxis of multimedia cartography in the realm of human geography. I will attempt to show why a theorized practice may be useful to the projects we are involved in. While the conceptual and theoretical ideas can be very abstract, I will attempt to explain them briefly and clearly. This section of this chapter focuses on the idea of applied intertextuality and the manner in which it can shape the praxis of multimedia cartography.

Cartographic Multimedia Praxis: Applied Intertextuality

I have found the concept of 'intertextuality' useful in my major multimedia cartography projects. I first became intrigued by intertextuality while studying 19th century exploration reports from the American West and examining the explicit relations between text, images, maps, and panoramic landscape views in the reports (Krygier 1997b). Previous interpretations of the maps and images in these reports, which looked at them independent of each other, were confused and pallid compared with my experience of reading the reports and all the different representational forms together (sketch). The maps made more sense when looked at in terms of the panoramic landscape views; the illustrations made more sense when reading the description of the landscape in the text, and so on. Segregating any of these representations led to a rather feeble interpretation, and missed the purposeful complex of interrelated representations which represented the landscape of the American West in such a powerful manner. The effects of the barrage of representations are illustrated by the reaction of Senator James Harlan (in 1859) to the well-crafted complex of representations in the reports:

Every unusual swell of the land, every unexpected or unanticipated gorge in the mountains has been displayed in a beautiful picture. Every bird that flies in the air over that immense region, and every beast that travels the plains and mountains, every fish that swims in its lakes and rivers, every reptile that crawls, every insect that buzzes in the summer breeze, has been displayed in the highest style of art, and in the most brilliant colors (quoted in Taft 1953 p. 7).

We can only hope that our cartographic multimedia engenders such reactions. How can this idea of intertextuality shape and guide our use of cartographic multimedia? (Pearce 1998). While the concept of intertextuality can be quite complex, especially a used in literary criticism and social theory (Culler 1981), in a modified form - as 'applied intertextuality' - I believe it is one vital means of providing cartographers with a way of thinking about and working with multimedia representations - a theorized practice or praxis.

In one sense, cartographers are quite used to intertextuality in practice; indeed we often construct cartographic representations consisting of interrelated text, images, maps, graphs, etc. Importantly, relations between these representations are not arbitrary. Indeed, the intellectual design and physical layout and design of such 'multimedia' forges concrete, mutually reinforcing relations between the different forms of representation. We have a point to make, a story to tell, knowledge to communicate. On paper, we have examples of 'media maps' (citation; example) and atlases (citation; example). Text refers us to graphs which refer us to maps which refer us to images and so on - all in a significant and purposeful manner. Intertextuality is the intellectual basis for these explicitly and carefully forged relations - where the whole is much more than the sum of the parts. However, cartographers seldom discuss or examine this vital intellectual dimension of their multimedia representations (discuss Wood 1987?).

Computers have made applied intertextuality even easier. I have attended the Virtual Geography Department Workshop at the University of Texas in Austin for the last two years. One of the most popular topics at the Workshop is the WWW-based Virtual Fieldtrip. While diverse, existing Virtual Fieldtrips share important characteristics: they combine text, images, maps, diagrams, video, sound, and interactive elements (such as discussion boards) in various ways as to help students understand particular places and landscapes they may not be able to visit. One comment I hear over and over is that these Virtual Fieldtrips are not the same as the 'real' landscape. There is much concern with the vague boundaries between the 'real' and 'represented' landscape. However, I believe that these vague boundaries result in an understanding of the landscape that would not otherwise be possible, and the idea of intertextuality helps explain this.

Virtual Fieldtrips offer some practical advantages over real fieldtrips: students have some degree of access to a diversity of places they cannot get to or may not want to get to (eg., Bosnia). More importantly, however, I believe that a more profound value of Virtual Fieldtrips can be understood from the perspective of intertextuality. Virtual Fieldtrips have an intellectual design shaped by their creators understanding of the places and landscapes being represented. The actual landscape itself is one element in the virtual fieldtrip, linked to the multimedia representation in vital ways. Indeed, from an intertextual perspective, the maps, text, photographs, diagrams, and sounds on the WWW are as important as the landscape itself. Together all these elements produce insight and understanding that would seldom arise from any of the elements alone.

Consider the following story: several years ago some friends and myself stopped by the side of an obscure dirt road several hours north of State College Pennsylvania (sketch). Something was strange about the place but it was difficult to understand exactly what. There was evidence of mining (a few old mine shafts, overgrown piles of debris), some depressions, chaotic piles of rock, very large oak trees (which normally would have been cut down), and what seemed to be domestic flowers (daffodils) growing wildly (image). But mostly it looked like many other places in north-central Pennsylvania - relatively wild and empty: it was not evident from the actual landscape what exactly was going on. Subsequent library research, inspired by the subtle peculiarities of our experience in the landscape, turned up a wealth of knowledge. We had been wandering around 'downtown' Peale Pennsylvania, population 800 around 1880, with several hundred houses, stores, a hotel, streets, cemetery, etc. We found contemporary text describing the town (it was a company town owned by the New York Central Railroad), some photos, and a map (map). We began to hear details from people in the area who's parents had grown up in the town. We returned to the actual landscape with the stories, the texts, the old images, and the map and the ghost town of Peale literally jumped out at us from the landscape, an experience I will never forget. The complex interrelated set of representations was the means by which we could make sense of and understand Peale and its surrounding landscape. The landscape alone hinted at something, but was not sufficient for understanding. The old photos, maps, and texts were revealing, but it was not until we combined them with the actual landscape that we really understood the place. We began to shape all these representations into an intertextual 'multimedia' version of Peale. The first product a map with text and images (illus. of brochure) and, more recently, the beginnings of a WWW-based Virtual Fieldtrip. At their basis is an intellectual design shaped by our knowledge of the details linked to conceptual and theoretical ideas from cultural and historical geography. This 'applied intertextuality' has resulted in a purposeful construct of representations (text, image, map) explicitly linked to the actual landscape and the people who want to learn about it (we have taken many people on tours). This is not 'virtual reality' - it is better than that, for we are not trying to replicate visible reality as accurately and objectively as possible. Instead, we seek understanding and insight, representing the place as infused with an intellectual design represented by our knowledge of how to make sense out of the place.

Applied intertextuality is, then, useful to praxis and actual cartographic multimedia applications. I am currently using such ideas to shape the PPVis WWW site described earlier: how to I construct an interrelated array of text, images, graphs, video clips, sounds, etc., which explicitly incorporates the people who live in the community (participation) and the actual neighborhoods? How do I help people bridge the gap between the abstract representations (such as maps) and the actual place? How do I encourage people to participate, to add to and modify existing information with their own information and perspectives? (Krygier 1998). Please discard the conception of cartographic multimedia as just a collection of digital maps with some text and pictures. In its stead, envision a conception of cartographic multimedia based on an intellectual design where the representations, the actual landscape and humans participating and trying to understand are all linked together - this is the substantive vision of cartographic multimedia provided by the concept of intertextuality (sketch). The 'analog' link forged by traveling from your house to the actual landscape is as significant as the 'digital' link forged between a map and its explanatory text. Together all these elements produce insight and understanding that would not arise from any of the elements alone: isn't that what we are ultimately trying to do, in practice, with cartographic multimedia?

Applied intertextuality allows us as cartographers to explicitly discuss and generate the intellectual design which underpins our multimedia representations. It allows us to examine how a carefully constructed complex of actual landscape, human participants, text, images, video, maps, sounds, and other representations provide us with an understanding of places and landscapes we could not achieve otherwise. Applied intertextuality is a vital element in the praxis of multimedia cartography.

Vital to the conception of multimedia cartography (and PPVis) described above is the role of understanding and insight. The ultimate goal of our representations is to allow our users to make sense of of some topic, issue, place, or landscape. In the case of some of my interactive multimedia cartography (Krygier 1995, 1996) the goal was to develop methods which would help me understand and make sense of the material I was studying. In the case of PPVis (and other more publically-oriented cartographic multimedia applications) the goal is to help communities and the public understand and make sense of issues by using interactive multimedia as a means. So how do we know if the multimedia tools we are providing are actually working? How do we enhance and shape our applications as they are being constructed? How do we know if we or others are actually making sense from these representations, and if they are gaining anything over more traditional means of learning? The issue of evaluation is vital to the praxis of multimedia cartography and PPVis.

Is It Working? Praxis and Evaluation

How do we understand how and if multimedia cartography and public participation visualization is working? Cartographers have always used some kind of informal or formal evaluation methods to gage map users reactions to maps. Formalized evaluation methods developed in the 1950s, after the publication of Arthur Robinson's The Look of Maps (1952). Robinson noted that during World War II he (and other cartographers) "were never really confident that we were doing the right thing" and this justified the development of formalized map evaluation methods (Robinson 1979 p. 98). The Look of Maps promoted "the development of design principles based on objective visual tests, experience, and logic; the pursuit of research in the physiological and psychological effects of color; and investigations in perceptibility and readability in typography..." (Robinson 1952 pp. 13-14). The theory of the cartographic communication model developed in the 1960s (Keates 1964, Board 1967, Kolacny 1969), and critiques of the model's naive behaviorist and psychophysical assumptions led to the development of cognitive methods of map evaluation in the 1980s (Blades and Spenser 1986). It is these cognitive methods which dominate formalized evaluation in cartography today, both in the realm of paper and digital media (MacEachren 1995).

Alas, few practicing cartographers have time to concoct such formal cognitive evaluations of the maps (paper or digital) they create. Indeed, informal evaluations are undoubtedly used much more often than formal evaluations in the practice of cartography, although such methods are seldom explicitly discussed. Informal evaluation is certainly as old as map making itself, and continues today. I can imagine some 16th century Native American sketching a map in the sand for European explorers. Observing the explorers squinting at the map with their scurvy-weakened eyes, the Native grabs a thicker stick and redraws the map. Which visual variable is being varied here? I watch the same thing happen today: my students informally critiquing fellow student's maps while they are working in the computer lab - suggestions are made, debated, and changes incorporated in the maps. The maps are always better because of such evaluation. When I create a multimedia map WWW site I always have a few people use and informally critique it. While there are certainly limits to such informal methods, such evaluations usually result in an improved map design and a quick gage of what a user is getting out of the map. These are useful methods and cartographers use them all the time, they serve the needs of a practicing cartographer more often than formal methods of evaluation. How can we transform the practice of such vitally useful but informal evaluation methods into something more formal, with underlying theory for intellectual support, without losing the convenience and ease of such methods?

In addition to being just plain useful in general, informal methods have another advantage over traditional formal cartographic evaluation methods from the perspective of non-quantitative human geography. Many human geographers subscribe to an understanding of the human world that is based on social and cultural differences. This position suggests that an individual's understanding of the world is shaped as much by class, culture, gender, and race as by the cognitive operations of the brain. This is not to suggest that cognitive processes are unimportant, but to stress the importance of social and cultural context in understanding how people make sense out of the world. As a human geographer with such a world view, I find many formal, cognitive evaluations of maps to be incapable of answering the kind of questions I want answered about the multimedia maps I create, and particularly those which I have called public participation visualization. What kind of evaluation methods can we use when we are interested in understanding cultural and social aspects of how diverse people make sense of our complex, intertextual multimedia cartography representations?

As part of the praxis - theorized practice - of multimedia cartography I suggest that we need 'formalized informal' evaluations based on a broadened definition of evaluation. Such methods are similar to qualitative methods of evaluation, of which there is growing interest in cartography and geography in general, as evidenced by a session on such methods organized by Trudy Suchan at the 1998 American Association of Geographers Meeting in Boston. I want to preserve the utility of informal methods while providing them with a conceptual and theoretical basis which makes them easier to apply and justify. I also need methods of evaluation which are not at odds with the social and cultural theories underpinning my work and which allow me to get at the complexities of how diverse groups of users comprehend complex, interactive cartographic multimedia and PPVis. I can watch people use my PPVis site, and talk to them, and get feedback, but I would like some conceptual basis which makes such an approach easier to apply and justify. The following section of this chapter focuses on some work by colleagues and myself to systematize (formalize) informal evaluations which can easily be used in the process of designing and implementing multimedia cartography. In addition, I describe the qualitative methodology of sense-making, which is particularly appropriate for evaluating public participation visualization sites.

Cartographic Multimedia Praxis: Formalized Informal Evaluations

Three colleagues and myself addressed the issue of what could be called systematized informal evaluations in a research project to create multimedia educational resources for geographic education (Krygier et al. 1997a). I summarize and recast this approach here, in terms of multimedia cartography in general. I suggest that this approach is a necessary and vital element in the praxis of cartographic multimedia.

There are at least four benefits of this approach to evaluation. First, it systematizes the usually unsystematic role of informal evaluations in cartography, providing a basic (and modifiable) conceptual framework that can guide cartographic practitioners in the process of designing and producing multimedia cartography. Second, it allows us, as cartographers, to justify our products as having been evaluated in the process of being created. We can point to a conceptual and theoretical framework and literature (within and outside of cartography) which justifies in a formal sense what we already know to be useful in an informal sense. Third, it is impossible to formally evaluate (with qualitative or quantitative methods) cartographic (or any) multimedia application before it is complete and refined; it is, thus, useful to have evaluation methods which work in the process of designing and producing cartographic multimedia rather than only after the application is complete (Ebel, 1982; Reeves, 1992). Finally, this systematized informal evaluation framework removes some of the dread and anxiety associated with evaluation. I have been told by several readers of the 1997 paper that they were greatly relieved to find out the evaluation is not only highly structured, tightly controlled cognitive experiments with associated apparatus, experimentees, and statistics.

In the 1997 paper, we modified a four-part approach to evaluation originally described by Reeves (1992). Reeves distinguishes these four evaluation functions from specific evaluation methods such as questionnaires, focus groups, etc. Different evaluation methods can be embedded in each of the four evaluation functions. These evaluation functions can be implemented from the very beginning of a multimedia project, and to a certain extent overlap. I use the development of my PPVis prototype as an example to illustrate the four evaluation functions.

Goal refinement is simply a plan and vision of the goals of a project (Reeves 1992, p. 520). Cartographers are used to defining the purpose and goals of a cartographic product and using these goals to shape the design of the map. In the case of a sophisticated multimedia cartography project, this process can be systematized by talking to representative users, gaging their expectations, desires, and goals. As we move to the WWW, and have larger and more diverse publics viewing and interacting with our multimedia cartography, this type of evaluation becomes more vital. In the case of my PPVis WWW site, preliminary discussions and meetings with community members and other potential users have been and will be documented and used to shape my design of the site. I have found that it helps to have a prototype available as a basis for discussion. I show potential users what the possibilities of the technology are (such as on-line, interactive maps), and what they can do with it, and I find the users able to generate many ideas and goals which I can then incorporate into a plan, design and set of refined goals for the application. Indeed, users often have goals that I would never have expected, some which conflict with other goals. Such preliminary information certainly helps me gage potential problems and difficulties which may arise when the project is available to the public. Further, records of original goals as refined by interviews and discussions with users can be re-evaluated at the end of the project to assess how such goals developed and shifted in the process of producing and implementing the project.

Documentation consists of keeping a detailed record of "what is actually done" throughout the process of producing a project (Reeves 1992, p. 521). Documentation during the production process contains notes on people and materials consulted (for citation purposes), software and hardware used, progress and time spent on different parts of the project, and, importantly, problems and how they were solved. Documentation is vital when more than one person is involved in a multimedia cartographic project. For example, I funded a graduate student to develop a prototype WWW-based interactive map site using ESRI's Map Objects and Internet Map Server as part of my PPVis project. His masters project consists mostly of a detailed documentation of how he created map and data files, programmed an independent Map Objects application, and implemented this application on the Map Server (Chang 1997). While the student has moved on, I have a detailed, step by step account of his development of the prototype which I can refer to. Documentation of problems and how they were solved is particularly important for saving time on future development of the project. Importantly, the documentation of the entire project served as the basis of a careful evaluation of ESRI's Map Objects and Internet Map Server: what skills are needed to create such applications? What map and GIS functions are available? What hardware is necessary? How much time is involved? Is the approach taken viable and worth pursuing beyond the prototype stage? These are vital issues in the evaluation of a cartographic multimedia project.

Formative evaluation is defined as "the systematic collection of information for the purpose of informing decisions to design and improve the product" (Flagg 1990, p. 1-2). In other words, using the information collected and evaluated in the documentation to shape and reshape the multimedia application. Any cartographic project, no matter how refined the goals and plans, is modified and re-formed during production and implementation. Formative evaluation methods are usually quite informal: as noted above, cartographers are quite used to having colleagues take a quick look at a map in the process of production, and comments gathered can and often do reshape the design of the map. For example, I produced a full, poster-sized prototype of the State College History map to show to colleagues and members of the local historical society (who were sponsors of the project). I carefully documented reactions: several people were bothered by the fact that when viewing the map as a poster from a distance, the blocks of text on the map and lines linking them to locations on the map were too bold; they 'ruined' the effect of the shaded terrain in the background. Subsequently, I rethought my design: removing the lines and replacing them with index numbers, and moving the type back in the hierarchy so that, from across the room, the terrain dominated the map, while at reading distance, the text is readable.

For my PPVis project I have set up formative evaluations whereby I have potential users sit and attempt to use the prototype interactive WWW-based map site. Almost immediately I realized that the structure of the WWW site itself (of which the interactive maps are a part) was impossible to use as designed by my student. I generated a new design for the site which was much easier for the users. I also asked users to verbalize what they were trying to do and if they failed, using what is really an informal protocol analysis. As this is formative evaluation, I am most concerned with working out the worst of the design flaws and limitations of the site. Once the rough edges are removed and design and goals modified, based on formative evaluation, I will have a prototype that can be evaluated in terms of more formal methods, what Reeves (1992) calls impact evaluation.

Impact evaluation consists of formalized qualitative and quantitative methods which assess the impact and outcomes of given cartographic multimedia applications. Such methods are what most people think of when they think of evaluation, although they are in fact only one of four different evaluation functions available to cartographic multimedia designers and producers. I hope it is clear from the preceding discussion of goal refinement, documentation, and formative evaluation that evaluation can play a systematic and important role in the entire process of designing, producing, and implementing cartographic multimedia, rather than only at the end of the process. I wish not to diminish more formal impact evaluation methods, but to stress the importance of the goal refinement, documentation, and formative functions of evaluation. As noted earlier in this chapter, cartographers have long used informal methods of evaluation throughout the cartographic design and production process. The four-step approach to evaluation, I suggest, transforms the practice of such vitally useful but informal evaluation methods into something more formal, with underlying concepts and theory for intellectual support, a key element in the praxis of multimedia cartography.

There are a diversity of impact evaluation methods, both qualitative and quantitative, simple and complex, highly formal and relatively informal (appropriate citations). If I can be so bold as to quote myself: ...different impact evaluation methods pose different kinds of questions and provide different answers" (Krygier et al., 1997a. p. 31). Thus choosing a method of impact evaluation depends largely on the kinds of questions one wants to answer. Your goal may be to ask if map readers understand and/or retain information from animated maps in a way that is different from static maps. Such evaluations are based on an interest in the cognitive aspects of map users, and there are appropriate methods for evaluating this type of impact (appropriate citation). But there are certainly other types of questions to ask and other aspects of map users reactions of interest to cartographers. The praxis of evaluation consists of seeking methods which are theoretically and conceptually appropriate for the evaluation of a given application.

Earlier in this chapter I asked what kind of evaluation methods are appropriate when one is interested in understanding cultural and social aspects of how a diversity of people make sense of our complex, intertextual multimedia cartography representations. Cartographers sometimes avoid such questions, as they are messy and traditional cartographic impact evaluation methods are not appropriate. However, there are methods of evaluation which are appropriate, and I explore one which I hope to use in evaluating the impact of PPVis on communities: Brenda Dervin's Sense-Making.

Making Sense of the Praxis of Cartographic Multimedia in Human Geography and the Social Sciences

Brenda Dervin's theory of Sense-Making was brought to my attention by Myke Gluck in a paper on qualitative methods in cartographic research (Gluck 1998). It is fitting to conclude with Dervin's Sense-Making as it ties together three important themes in this chapter. First, it is a potentially useful method of impact evaluation which contains both qualitative and quantitative components, it is viable for actual practice. Second, it is conceptually and theoretically allied with current concepts and theories in non-quantitative human geography and the social sciences, it has a theoretical basis. Third, drawing from these first two themes, Dervin's approach stresses the idea of praxis: Sense Making is conceptualized as an explicit theory of practice for the design of information and the evaluation of how people use, interact with, create, and make sense of information. I will expand upon these three themes below and link them back to particular issues raised in this chapter.

Dervin, in an extremely useful paper entitled "Chaos, Order, and Sense-Making: A Proposed Theory for Information Design" (Dervin, 199?), provides an overview of the history of theories of information and the theory and methodologies of Sense-Making, an approach she (and others) have developed over the last twenty years. For practical purposes, Sense-Making has well tested methods and numerous applications in a diversity of fields: studies of how information is provided to library patrons, how students learn about complex ideas, how patients make sense out of medical information, and how researchers came to understand their research topics by interacting with information, methodologies, and other researchers (Dervin, 199?). Dervin notes that Sense-Making "was ... developed to assess how patients, audiences, users, clients, and citizens make sense of their intersections with institutions, media, messages, and situations and to then apply the results in responsive communication / information system design" (Dervin 199?). Sense-Making, then, is particularly viable as a means of evaluating and understanding the complex interactions between users and public participation visualization and multimedia cartography applications, as we are also dealing with diverse groups of users, making sense of complex information and dynamic scenarios. Our goals are, as with Sense-Making, to apply what we learn about these interactions to enhancing the design of our information systems - multimedia cartography and public participation visualization.

A major advantage of Sense-Making is that it is based on the same conceptual and theoretical ideas which infuse contemporary human geography and social science. Sense-Making is based on a conception of humans moving through complex time/space contexts that is strikingly similar to Hagarstrand's Time Geography. Components of Hagarstrand's work were adapted by Giddens, who's structuration theory explains how humans are shaped by social structures (such as class, race, gender) while simultaneously having a significant degree of agency to modify the social contexts of which they are a part. Gidden's theory is a primary means of understanding the dynamics of social relations and change. Dervin brings these important theories into the realm of information design by arguing that all information is designed: "humans make it and un-make it" (Dervin 199?). In other words, Sense-Making provides both theory and methodology which help evaluate and guide the development of systems which not only deliver information to people, but which allow people to modify, change, and adapt the systems and information in the process of making sense out of the world. "Sense making ... explicitly privileges the ordinary person as necessarily a theorist involved in the development of ideas that provide guidance not only for understanding personal worlds but necessarily for understanding collective, historical, and social worlds as well" (Dervin 199?, p. ?). This is the goal of public participation visualization and other advanced applications of cartographic multimedia which attempt to empower users rather than only communicate information to them. Sense-Making can be a vital element of the praxis of cartographic multimedia: an explicit theoretically informed approach to information design which, as Dervin argues, assists "humans in the making and unmaking of their own informations, their own sense" (Dervin 199?).

I close where I started - with the idea of praxis. Dervin's recognition of the importance of praxis - of a theoretically aware practice - in the design of information reflects a point I have attempted to make throughout this chapter. Dervin uses the term 'meta-design' in her work to imply much the same as what I mean by intellectual design; both are, as Dervin notes, "a deliberate consciousness of what theories we will bring to bear on that design - what theories of information, reality, people, and power." For there are always theories, always biases, always lies, always enhancements, always simplification, generalization, a decision to show this and not that. Anyone who has ever made a map knows, from practical experience, that the map does not represent reality as it is. Even seemingly 'realistic' shaded terrain models are abstract, hyper-real rather than real: generated from points digitized from paper contour maps, projected, triangulated, vertically exaggerated, and artificially colored. A theoretically informed practice will insure that cartographic multimedia develops as a substantive method, rather than curious but naive new technology in search of applications. Praxis is vital in the production of traditional, static paper maps. Praxis is even more vital in the production of advanced cartographic multimedia and public participation visualization systems, where we seek an intellectual design that enhances the manner in which people use, interact with, create, make sense of and, eventually, change their physical and social worlds. Such socially directed applications, and the praxis which produces them, must be informed by social theories.


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