This week we looked at data of squirrel populations in Manhattan in order to learn how to use ArcGIS Online. I had used ArcGIS Online briefly before, but had to add all of my own data, which was quite difficult.
My finished interactive map for this class shows the squirrel populations and WiFi locations in Manhattan. Although I know that squirrel locations and WiFi locations are unrelated data sets, my map makes it appear like squirrels are avoiding WiFi locations, or alternatively, WiFi locations are established away from squirrels.
This shows how mapping can be used to mislead the viewer. Making the deliberate choice to display squirrel locations alongside WiFi locations makes the viewer want to draw conclusions from this data. In reality, maybe the squirrel data was only collected inside the park and the WiFi data was only from outside of the park. There are probably still squirrels outside of the park that were not recorded in the specific data set I am displaying.
When maps are used with great consideration of the potential misuses, they can display really interesting data and you can make important comparisons that would be hard to see without visualizing the data. The spatial humanities is an important field, but it is easy to create misleading maps. It is always important to look at maps with some degree of skepticism before drawing conclusions and critically think about the implications of your map before publishing.