December 08, 2015

What Would a Floating Sheep Map? The Manifesto

After six years of doing this FloatingSheep thing and something like 400 different posts, we finally decided to summarize a bit of our research in our newly published essay/manifesto, entitled "What Would a Floating Sheep Map?". A collaboration between the five members of the FloatingSheep collective and Rich Donohue and Matt Wilson of the University of Kentucky, our manifesto tries to provide some context to the broader debates about mapping that we've been participating in for the last several years.

Our manifesto is about maps, but it's not just about maps. We like maps and celebrate high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing, intellectually engaging and (yes) amusing maps. Our aim, however, is to do much more than express an appreciation for maps. We also want to challenge people to think deeply about space, construct maps that demonstrate an awareness of social contexts, and critique these very same maps. Thus, our manifesto focuses not on the specific techniques or technologies of map-making, but on the societies, spaces, and places that are being mapped, and from which maps emerge.

While we'll leave you to actually read the entire thing, as a bit of a teaser, here are the six key points that summarize our manifesto, and, ultimately, the last six years of FloatingSheep research that we've shared with you here on the blog.
#1a. Maps help us to understand the world.
#1b. But maps also produce the world as we know it. 
#2a. All maps lie.
#2b. But lies are the source of maps' power. 
#3a. Maps are now fundamentally different.
#3b. But maps are still fundamentally the same. 
#4a. Pretty maps are better than ugly maps.
#4b. But ugly maps will do in a pinch. 
#5a. Map or be mapped.
#5b. But not everything can (or should) be mapped. 
#6a. Maps of the digital world are a reflection of the material world.
#6b. But this reflection is imperfect and distorted.
Zook, Matthew, Taylor Shelton, Ate Poorthuis, Rich Donohue, Matthew Wilson, Mark Graham, and Monica Stephens. What Would a Floating Sheep Map? Lexington, KY: Oves Natantes Press, 2015.

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