Mapping in Technical Communication Courses

Mapping in Professional Communication Courses

Mapmaking isn't a neutral and objective reflection of an external reality. Maps, in fact, provide some of the most powerful ways of understanding communication as the selective arrangement of heterogeneous fragments and aspects, an activity that is social and political in very broad senses. For this reason, I try to help people gain postmodernist perspectives on communication by having them critically consider the contingencies and varied effects of mapping local sites in different ways.

We use, in addition to traditional textbooks for this area, Denis Wood's text on cartography, The Power of Maps. Wood's book is never popular with the students at the beginning--in addition to the difficulty they have in making the connection between interface and geography, Wood's writing style is informal, airy, and chatty. Too personal.

So I've learned that if I take it slow and integrate exercises and discussions, students begin to learn the importance of mapping and how to think of their own work as a form of mapping.

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