Globes and Maps

A tangible user interface not discussed in the paper is a map, or a globe, both related but different in interaction. They qualify as a Token in the taxonomy, in that they physically resemble the information they represent to a degree. Globes arguably represent the Earth more realistically than maps do, as maps are flat (even though there may be curvatures to denote roundness); however, people are able to impose their own information upon these TUIs in different ways to more easily extract different data. For example, a cartographer may have an easier time visualizing trajectories on a map, but may have a better perception of time it may take to travel that trajectory on a globe due to how it spins on its axis and representations of wind channels.

Digital maps, such as Google maps, have taken these more physical representations of the Earth to a different level. It is neither more related to a globe nor a map, but somewhere in between due to the skew morphism that has recently been added. And while a user may interact with this interface with a mouse (or a finger) to drag and zoom, or even dictate a trajectory, I’m unsure how to categorize the Street Map view of Google Maps. At that point, I wonder if the TUI becomes no longer a Token, but maybe an Object as Reconfigurable Tool.

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