Mapping the field of science fiction and more

I thoroughly enjoy maps and so was pleased to see this story about an ongoing “multidisciplinary physical and online art project” that includes a collection of maps:

Take “Places & Spaces: Mapping Science,” a multidisciplinary physical and online art project, running since 2005, that seeks to create a complete picture of “human activity and scientific progress on a global scale.” Curated by a group of librarians, information scientists, and geographers around the world, each exhibit features a handful of maps—an older word for infographic—along a theme. Previous years have exhibited maps designed to index information for policy makers, or for cartographers, or economic decision makers.

This year, the theme is the digital library.

One of the entries is a social network of the Bible. Another, “Seeing Standards,” is positively meta: It charts more than 100 widely used rule sets for collating data, and sorts them by strength, community, domain, function, and purpose…

One “Places & Spaces” map bucks the trend, imagining complexity in an entirely different way. The distinction? Ward Shelley’s “The History of Sci­ence Fiction” (full size version here) isn’t pulled from any server’s database. In fact, it’s charmingly analog.

Mr. Shelley is an artist and a teacher at Parsons the New School for Design. He has become known for what he calls “rhetorical drawings”—visual art pieces that draw on such traditionally linguistic markers as narrative and chronology to illustrate ideas.

This science fiction map is quite a work in itself in addition to the amount of information that it displays.  I like how it all comes back in the tentacles on the upper left to “fear” and “wonder.” And the “Stars Wars Effect” section in the bottom right corner is fun as well.

I wonder if someone has ever done something like this for sociology. If done well, it could be great.

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