Ok, so I know I said I wanted a first draft up last Friday…but it seems I was a bit too optimistic in setting that milestone.  I am now targeting next Friday (not this Friday, but the Friday after…I’m never sure how that works).  In a meeting with my advisor this morning I was saying how I’m not sure how to judge my progress. I feel like I am getting work done, and making progress, but as I’m not sure exactly how much work is ahead of me it’s hard to say if I’m on schedule or not.  He replied with asking me how many pages I have right now that I could show him.  To which I said zero (eek!), they are all notes and point form, not really in any readable format.  Ah, nothing like a talk with your advisor to give you a reality check.  I’d say out of the 5 day week I am devoting to school, I feel good about the productivity of maybe 3.  I’m going to have to do better than that.

Last week I reviewed the results again…and then reviewed the results AGAIN…and again.  Needless to say, I need a break from my results and discussion.  I fine-tuned the classification scheme I presented earlier, and by fine-tuned I mean obsessed over.  I found it pretty tough because there is no clear way to say this is how you describe a map, there are so many factors and exceptions that play into it so I can interpret it many different ways.  I can be pretty indecisive so I need to just pick a structure and stick with it and ensure I cover all of the decisions I made in my writing.

Up until last week I had only been looking at keywords and tracking how often they were being used in the descriptions.  Now I have taken a look at the context of the keywords which allowed me to see how the categories were used in order to create a description.  I guess if you take only one thing away from my research, this should be it (albeit in it’s first draft form)…

A description of a thematic map relays context through stating:

  • Query data, for a general understanding of what the map is representing
  • Jurisdiction, for a specific area the map is covering
  • Location, to give real-life names to the area of jurisdiction

The points shown in the thematic layer are described in relation to the various topographical features and landmarks through comparing:

  • Size
  • Distance
  • Direction
  • Placement

These descriptions are enriched through the use of descriptive words of the various layers and their features, which relay:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Colour
  • Direction
  • Quantity

There were also two noticeably dominant techniques when describing the map. To choose a specific target (ie. river, lake, city center) and then describe everything on the map in relation to the target. If there was no obvious target available, participants chose to divide up the map (into quadrants, top-down, left-right) and progressively describe the maps in smaller pieces.

Here is an example that I have pieced together from the results to illustrate what I have stated above:

to be determined

This map is showing locations of facilities which reported pollutant releases in Canada in 2008.  There is a town named Springfield, which is based along the east bank of a river.  The river runs alongside the town from north to south.  Approximately half way down, the river is joined by a smaller river that arches from the left.  At the point where the two rivers join is a railway track.  There are 3 facilities shown, the first is at the terminus of the railway track.  The second point is located at the south end of the town and to the east of the first point.  There is a small park near the center of town and bordering the east side of the river, as well as an orange symbol over the river about X km north of the park.  The third point is due east of these two features, and is just outside the north-east side of the town.

Context:

Query Data =  “locations of facilities which reported pollutant releases in Canada in 2008”

Jurisdiction = “town”

Location = “Springfield”

Comparisons:

Size = “smaller river”

Distance = “orange symbol over the river about X km north of the park”

Direction =   “The second point is located at the south end of the town and to the east of the first point.”

Placement = “There is a small park near the center of town and  bordering the east side of the river”

Descriptive Words:

Shape = “that arches from the left”

Size = “There is a small park”

Colour = “orange symbol”

Direction = “The river runs alongside the town from north to south

Quantity = “due east of these two features”

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