Mapping Social Science Data

How Maps Work:
Phenomena vs. Data

Associated Reading: Making Maps Chapter 3 Mappable Data

Phenomena vs. Data

GIScientists distinguish between phenomena and data:

"Phenomena are all the stuff out in the real world"

"Data capture a specific phenomena"

(Making Maps, p. 54)

Maps do not display phenomena, they display data

Phenomena only exist in the real world: "the map is not the territory"

This has implications, because:

1. We cannot collect all data about phenomena, but only samples
2. Maps therefore are only samples of the real world
3. We choose which data are shown on maps. This choice is both explicit (deliberate) and implicit


Temperature map:

On this temperature map the data are created from point samples of a surface phenomenon (temperature)

How Maps Work:
Visual Variables

Associated Reading: Making Maps pp. 201-209

Visual variables can be used to appropriately symbolize your data.

Apply these to the spatial data models: point, line, area, surface, volume

If your data are quantitative use size, color value (graytones)
If your data are qualitative use
shape, color hue, orientation

Some variables can be used for both, such as texture, arrangement

collecting and manipulating data