Gestalt had a point and still does

Response for October 10, 2012 reading: Gestalt

Wow! These articles really hit a nerve with me. Not in a bad way of course :’) So, a couple of years ago on either 20/20 or 60 Minutes I watched a show that discussed map reading and how well people can read maps. Most people when asked to read a common city map could not do it. Now, this didn’t surprise me because some people just can’t read maps. But what did surprise me was how the people selected to read the map didn’t know the basic directional symbols for north, east, south and west. On top of that, the common symbols for house, hospital, gas station, fire department looked like  Arabic and Russian intertwined. I’m not fussing but after reading the Research, Theory and Methods article it helped me to understand why people struggled with reading the map- they didn’t know basic map reading symbols, and they didn’t understand Gestalt’s principals about proximity, similarity, and closure.

Nonetheless, the solution to this problem is far from hard- people willing to learn how to read a map can start out with learning basic map reading principals, geography and symbols. Next, people instead of using MapQuest, or their GPS system when confused about city directions can pull out their old-school rusty map and work their navigational and spatial skills. Simple  enough? Just imagine … taxi drivers in London take map reading courses to learn the whole city of London before they are certified to drive their taxi. 🙂



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