I have been recently working with Virginia New Majority to make a series of maps to inform planning for precinct walks in Virginia State house districts. It is collaborative, involving emails, exchanges of data back and forth, and skype calls. The core data are lists of individual households by pan-ethnic census categories, geocode them. andI use a point density method to aggregate those households visually, and also aggregate the counts of households by precinct and displsy those numbers atop the cluster map. The results are subjective but do suggest a certain way of viewing and thinking about the ways that actual communities conform or diverge from the discrete territorial units which define an electorial terrain in a democracy.
What makes these maps meaningful is not the visualization or techniques, but rather the conversation and common understandings of space, place and landscape that inform the process of making them. It is action research, subjective, goal directed, iterative, and collaborative.Cartography inherently is action research, maps are representations of simultaneity, wayfinding tools without a destination which exist in relation to thier useage.