Preliminary Assessment of the Impact of Culture on Understanding Cartographic Representations
Keywords: Culture, Map reading, User issues, topographic map
Abstract. When users read a topographic map, they have to decode the represented information. This decoding passes through various processes in order to perceive, interpret, and understand the reported information. This set of processes is intrinsically a question that is influenced by culture. In particular, when one thinks of maps distributed across the internet or representations of audiences from different origins, the chance of efficient communication is reduced or at least influenced. Therefore, there should be some degree of common visual communication, which the symbology of maps can be applied in order to assure the adequate communication of phenomenon being represented on it. In this context, the present work aims at testing which evaluation factors influence the reading of maps, the understanding of space and reasoning of the map user, in particular national topographic maps. The assessment was through internet considering official map representation from Brazil and Poland and questionnaires. The results shown that conventional topographic maps on the same scale are not capable of producing the correct interpretation of the user from another culture. This means that formal training has a direct influence on the quality of the interpretation and spatial reasoning. Those results indicate that high levels of formal training positively influence the reading and interpretation results of the map and that there is no evidence that the specialists with the symbology of their own country have significantly positive results, when compared to those used maps with systematic mapping from another country.