what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Maps as metaphors

Almost a decade ago I was asked, amongst other things, to design a Road Map for the development of municipalities in Kyrgyzstan. It was probably my best work (apart from getting a new Civil Service Agency off the ground in Azerbaijan – but that’s another story!).
The story of the Roadmap – and the lessons I learned is told here but the key part showed the usefulness of taking the metaphor embodied in the word apart -
 We did not initially understand the significance of the concept of a “Roadmap”– and it is one also which our beneficiaries also had some initial problems with. But, as I put it in the introduction to the readers of the document,A road map does not suggest a route – YOU choose the route. A roadmap simply locates the key features (mountains, rivers and swamps) you need to be aware of when trying to travel from the A to the B of your choice. So this is not an attempt to force foreign models on the local situation. Another point about a road map is that it cannot cover every changing detail nor tell you how you should approach certain situations – sometimes a large bump in the road or impatience can have fatal consequences. So a road map is only a guide - local knowledge, judgment and skills are needed to get you to your destination! And, like a map, you don’t have to read it all – only the sections which are relevant for your journey!

I actually developed a game during one Conference for the municipalities – putting up on the walls (a) the various elements critical to driving a car successfully from point A to B – the various parts of a car (engine; wheels; fuel, driving wheel; driver etc); the road network (structure and maintenance); licensing and control (eg police); garage network etc - then (b) listed the key actors in the municipal system (mayors, citizens, tax, Ministries, President, Parliament. Laws etc - and then invited the participants to link an actor with one of the road system’s elements (eg laws =wheels?)
What I was trying to do was to use the power of metaphor to get them to think creatively. It was fun anyway…..The results are at the end of this paper 

It’s the same with this question of exploring a country – I said there were at least 16 different ways of getting to know a country, depending on which sense you used. 
And also, I’ve realized, depending on what sort of map you use! 

Recently I bought two maps of this area for my daughter’s use – one the “panorama” of southern Transylvania which heads the recent post about Roadmaps; the other map is a walker’s map of the smaller are around our village which takes in the superb Piatra Craiului mountain range just behind the house.

What bit of the country we see depends on which map we choose……

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