Flutterby™! : Trusting maps over experience

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Trusting maps over experience

2011-05-25 14:27:01.799698+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Interesting. One of the things graphic design nerds wank over are schematic transit maps. I'm trying to figure out if it's worth paying the $31.50 (and then passing it on to Eric when everyone around here has read it), but Mind the map! The impact of transit maps on path choice in public transit apparently finds that geometric distortions of such maps strongly affect travel time.

This article says that the paper says that in London:

...the map effect is almost two times more influential than the actual travel time. In other words, underground passengers trust the tube map (two times) more than their own travel experience with the system.

Something to think about when developing topologically correct but not to scale maps.

[ related topics: Graphic Design Maps and Mapping Public Transportation ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-25 16:06:22.313613+00 by: ebradway

I don't have time to read that right now but I'll probably get to it this weekend. But a couple quick thoughts right now:

Schematic maps are both a design win and a spatial awareness fail. They are fantastic for teaching what "topology" means because it's largely the only thing that is preserved. Unfortunately, travel doesn't follow simple topological rules. We still have to traverse the entire state of Texas when driving I-10 from California to Florida even though you could make a schematic that looks like:

CA - AZ - NM - TX - LA - MS - AL - FL

Topologically, TX and AL look equivalent. You enter and exit each state once. But the travel time sure is different! I-10 covers 879 miles in Texas and just over 100 miles in Alabama.

And having spent time in the London Underground not too long ago, I can tell you that the construction shutdowns not marked on the tube maps are an even greater distortion on travel time. My lesson: learn the London bus system and only use the tube when you have too!