i need to become stronger

finding your way

wayfinding 2015-05-16

having now a good sense of maps and mapmaking, we can begin to use our maps to find our way through the territory. this requires more than the skill of map reading, which is implicit to mapmaking. you need the skill of the wayfinding: finding your way through the territory to a destination.

what sort of destination? the kinds of destinations that exist in the territory: possible future worlds states you could find yourself in. for example, hungry? find your way to eating a sandwich. thirsty? find your way to drinking a glass of water. ennui? find you way to having a life's purpose. to put it in a story:

you are trying to go to your friend's house. you have a map that shows you that to get there you need to walk down the street, though a patch of brush, past an angry dog, and then up a narrow lane with your friend's house at the end. the map tells you where to go, but just reading that map is not enough to get you there.

you know how to walk down the street just fine, but when you come to the brush just knowing you must go through it is not enough: you have to know how to clear a path through it. and if you try to pass by the angry dog he'll probably bite you, so you also have to know how to approach the dog to keep him from attacking. only then do you get to go up the narrow lane to reach your friend's house.

when put this way it may seem obvious that wayfinding is a skill apart from map reading, yet many people fail to notice this because they don't really know how to make meaning of wayfinding beyond map reading, especially when the metaphor is less clearly laid out.

suppose you want to lose weight, and further suppose, science aside, that weight loss is a simple matter of eating fewer calories than you use each day. in this case you know exactly what the map looks like: you eat less and do more so that calories in are less than calories out. great! having read the map, you have now lost the weight. only it doesn't work like that. you somehow have to use this knowledge of the map to lose weight. this is the skill of wayfinding: taking what you read in the map to actually get somewhere.

this is what makes wayfinding the first gap you must cross to move beyond mapmaking. it's not enough to read the map: you have to do things in order to move based on what you have read in your map. following the winning way requires that you not only make a map that helps you win, but also using the map to help you win.