According to research in the fields of cognitive psychology and geography, people tend to make sense of landscapes, navigate through them, and make calculations about them in a similar set of ways. I’m going to focus on the way untrained people do this without exerting too much effort. People who are experts in a field (like trained geographers) are often trained to think about the world in a different way. Some theoreticians call this usual way of interacting with landscapes “naïve geography.”
There’s a related field of study called “naïve physics,” describing how we all calculate the trajectory of an item into a trash can, how far a ball will go when we kick it, or whether something will break if we drop it from a certain height. Naïve geography describes how we constantly engage in a similar set of explanations, descriptions, and predictions with the landscapes we live in. “Naïve” in this sense means “intuitive” or “common sense,” not “showing a lack of experience.”
, we know landscapes in our bodies.
Naïve geography is part of us because
Principles of naïve geographic thinking
- Maps are more real than experience
- Distance is measured in travel time
- Incomplete geographic information is fine
- Multiple maps at different levels of detail
Egenhofer, Max J., and David M. Mark. https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-60392-1_1.Spatial Information Theory A Theoretical Basis for GIS, edited by Andrew U. Frank and Werner Kuhn, Springer, 1995, pp. 1–15.
Hayes, Patrick J.Computation & Intelligence: Collected Readings, American Association for Artificial Intelligence, 1995, pp. 567–85.