About Scotland The Map
ScotlandTheMap is a ground-breaking, national knowledge mapping project virtually connecting general, geographic & specialised knowledge resources about the ‘key building blocks’ of the nation, by visually connecting them in digital knowledge maps. This makes them easier to discover, find, understand & utilise, which benefits resource users, creators, and the nation as a whole.
We achieve this using our unique mix of professional information hunting & cartography skills and MindManager, the world leading information mapping software. The resulting HTML knowledge maps – which you are free to view, download & share on this site – open in any modern browser, on any device, without the need for any plugins.
We welcome your feedback & suggestions for subjects for future maps, or other definitive / official / plain old useful 🙂 knowledge resources to link to (as long as they’re freely accessible in the public domain). We are also keen to collaborate with like minded organisations, communities & projects for the benefit of the common good.
Why Digital Knowledge Maps?
In our experience much time & energy is wasted by individuals, organisations & communities hunting for the knowledge they need about Scotland and it’s component parts (it’s ‘national building blocks’), especially at the sub-national level. 1000’s of ‘person hours’ are spent every day floundering around down online search ‘rabbit holes’, painstakingly piecing together the ‘big picture’ from individual knowledge resources scattered around the web, or even creating ‘new’ knowledge resources because they couldn’t find what they were looking for (even though it may already exist)…
And that’s just the time that’s wasted. If the knowedge is crucially required in order for people to fulfill their day-to-day tasks today – which includes operationally planning what needs to be delivered tommorrow, and strategically thinking about what could be in the future – then it’s wasting a lot more other resources too…
In our humble opinion people should be spending their time better actually utilising the knowledge resources that currently do exist – or identifying the gaps where new ones are needed – so that they can better do what they need to do, and progress themselves and their organisation / community / project.
Any tool or technique that makes the knowledge gathering, assimilation & utilisation process quicker, easier and less stressful for all concerned can only be welcomed, and can only benefit the nation as a whole.
Enter the’knowledge map’ – a single, visually rich, information dense, hierarchically structured, intuitive to navigate, easy to share, ‘clickable index’ document…
Seek And Ye Shall Find... Eventually
“Och everything’s online now, all you have to do is Google it…”
There’s no shortage of knowledge resources about Scotland out there in the online, public domain. And sure, if you only need to find out a couple of facts in isolation now and again, a Google search will probably do it for you – as long as the answer you need is on the first few pages of the 8 million search results returned 🙁 (otherwise you may lose the will to live before you find the ones you need, or indeed reasonably conclude that the knowledge you seek does not currently exist, at least in the searchable pubic domain).
However if you regularly need to find a lot of information out in a more sustained, systematic way, AND record the existence of those new knowledge resources so you can return to them again later, AND build on the newly acquired knowledge they give you now – as is the case in doing desktop research for work and/or personal projects – then you will know what a frustrating & time consuming way of doing things a Google search is, especially if you are starting off from a ‘zero knowledge base’ yourself…
So, so many results to wade through… Results not all presented in order of relevance or importance to you… Resources linked to in different digital formats (eg. webpages, some buried in report documents without internal links, and what about all that data in downloadable spreadsheets?)… Dozens of browser tabs open because you don’t have a robust system of logging a ‘useful’ resource once you’ve found it so you can go back to it later…
We’ve all been there, so what’s the solution?
Visually Mapping The Knowledge Is The Only Way
Digital knowledge mapping is the only technique we know of that can simultaneously record the existence of potentially 100’s of real world ‘things’, 1000’s of knowledge resources about them, the ‘big picture’ contextual relationship between them and in which they are found, and ‘where they are’ online (ie. their ‘URL’).
AND do it in a very intuitive way, with a short learning curve, both in terms of making & sharing a map with software, and understanding it so that you can use it to find out what you want…
AND do it using ‘every day’ digital tools found in most office setups, making the requirement for further investment in technology minimal…
AND in a way that actively engages with more bits of your brain than traditional, linearly structured knowledge resources…
AND in a way that is able to cope with the real world as it is, in all it’s well intentioned, information overload, messy, ‘fuzzy logical’, glory…
Maps Provide A Visually Structured Frame Of Reference For Knowledge
A map encodes & conveys information visually, but crucially does so in a structured way using cartographic principles & devices. So utlises such elements as visual hierachies (more visually prominent things are more important), lines showing relationships between things (equivelant to or a subdivision of?), shapes, symbols (ie. visual metaphors), meaningful colours (eye-catching, complementary & contrasting) etc., all in conjunction with a minimal amount of text (which too is visually formatted using the same cartographic principles).
Together all these elements create a visually structured framework of knowledge that more actively engages with your brain than a linearly structured, text-only knowledge resource does, and so it is more easily navigated, understood and assimilated.
A map is also just a ‘visually structured index’ of what ‘things’ exist in a particular ‘space’, and the relationships between them within it – a particular (& valuable) type of knowledge resource in it’s own right (as Google Maps know only to well).
Connecting Visually = Connecting Virtually...
However unlike a ‘traditional’ geographic map, a knowledge map need not be confined to showing only ‘things’ that exist in geographic space. Yes they can show those – and our ScotlandTheMap knowledge maps most definitely do – but they could equally be ‘man made constructs’ that exist in our ‘conceptual space’, such as ‘organisations / bodies’ or ‘sectors’ or ‘networks’ or ‘communities’ or ‘partnerships’ or ‘governments’, or any other number of the ‘real world things’ we create to structure our societies and help us run them on a day to day basis.
Equally the ‘things’ they can map may only exist in a virtual space like the world wide web – which is already hierarchically structured into websites, pages, sub-sections and downloadable files along with some sort of associated human navigation system. So ‘things’ like online knowledge resources about the ‘real world things’ in geographic or conceptual space…
Combining both concepts of ‘spaces’ in the one knowledge map creates a visually structured index of knowledge resources about real world things, that is visually (and therefore virtually) connected to a visually structured index of the real world things themselves…
Visually Structured Index Becomes Visually Structured Portal
And if the digital knowledge map included the URL of those online knowledge resources, it would not only be a visually structured index of the resources that existed about all the real world ‘things’ of a particular type, it could take users straight to them with a single ‘mouse click’ on a hyperlink.
Then our knowledge map becomes a visually structured portal to – rather than simply an index of – knowledge resources.
Contextual Knowledge Can Be Embedded & Attached
As well as attaching hyperlinks to external knowledge resources, information mapping software has a range of ‘information cartography’ features that (in the hands of the right map-maker) enables general, contextual knowledge elements to be visually embedded within branches in the map.
Such embedded knowledge can be in the form of imagery – real life photos of people or places etc., or screenshots of ‘knowledge pictures’ like geographic maps (eg. boundary maps).
Or they could be in the form of traditionally structured data devices like spreadsheets or charts. They could also be individual data fields, the values of which can be used to visually format individual branches eg. assigning a fill colour (the same way the ‘thematic mapping’ process colours in areas by value in geographic maps).
Branches can also be individually tagged with attributes, and the tags used to perform simple querying that hides / shows only those branches that fulfill defined criteria in a search (the same as in the ‘geo-filtering’ process used with geographic maps).
By visually incorporating such embedded and attached knowledge about national building blocks into the map, the need to even look up other knowledge resources is much reduced, thus saving even more ‘person hours’ that could be better spent progressing the individual, organisation or community.
Base Frameworks & Not Re-Inventing Wheels...
As the virtual library of maps of the fundamental building blocks of the nation and the knowledge resources about them grows, it becomes apparent that many of them (in whole or in part) could be re-used to provide a ‘base knowledge framework’ upon which further ‘layers’ of more specialised knowledge branches can be added. So for example our Scottish Local Councils – General & Geographic Knowledge Atlas provides a base framework for our Scottish Local Council Electoral Wards – General, Geographic & Electoral Knowledge Atlas, which in turn forms a base framework for our Scottish Local Councils, Electoral Wards & Local Councillors – Political Knowledge Atlas.
This process is akin to the one used to build up geographic maps in an online, mapping viewer or a GIS, where general basemap – such as those provided by Open Street Map, Google or Ordnance Survey – provide a general spatial context for additional ‘layers’ of more specific geospatial data (the ‘points, lines & polygons’) that are displayed on top it.
Aims & Objectives
So now you know why knowledge mapping is such a great idea, what are we trying to achieve with it in the ScotlandTheMap project?
All individuals, organisation & communities with an interest in Scotland, not just those that are located here, will benefit from increased access to the knowledge resources about Scotland that our maps provide. Specifically…
Benefits For Knowledge Resource Users
The ScotlandtheMap project benefits users of knowledge resources in many ways…
Work with knowledge, information & data visually, in a more intuitive, richer environment that harnesses more of your brainpower.
Quickly access a professionally curated, intuitive to navigate, virtual library of definitive / official / just plain old useful knowledge resources about the aspects of Scotland you are interested in quicker, easier and with a lot less stress. Use the time & headspace saved on hunting around the web for what you need to know (and remembering what resources are where so you can find them again!) actually using the knowledge gained to do what you need to do.
Our maps provide robust, flexible knowledge frameworks that can be built on & expanded, or re-purposed & re-used, (in whole or in part), as required. If a resource has a URL, it can be linked to, so maps can provide commonly structured & styled interfaces into potentially very diverse worlds.
Discover other knowledge resources about about the aspects of Scotland you are interested in that you may never have known existed, or were put off exploring before because of a ‘difficult’ user interface, or poorly designed internal navigation. This will help you make new connections and expand your own knowledgebase.
Knowledge maps are just like traditional geographic map resources, like your in-car sat nav (or your battered but trusty AA paper road atlas if like us you’re of a certain vinatge :-). You don’t have to stress about remembering where all the individual locations are, or how you navigate between them, because it’s all recorded in the atlas of knowledge. Just knowing it’s in your metaphoric glove compartment and can be dug out and consulted at any time, makes journeying through what can be an overwhelming online knowledge-scape that much easier. It may well even give you the confidence to go off-road once in a while…
Benefits For Knowledge Resource Producers
The ScotlandtheMap project benefits creators of knowledge resources in many ways …
As information professionals we know the technical hurdles involved in creating knowledge resources can be as nothing compared to the effort involved in getting them to be used by the people that would benefit most – be they fellow professionals or members of the public. Anything that helps your resources get used by more people, more often, can only be ‘more power to your elbow’ right?
More interested people using your resources means ‘more eyes on’, means potentially better indentification of errors, duplication, and knowledge gaps, which benefits everybody.
We use our professional skills to hunt down the definitive registers of the fundamental building blocks of Scotland – often in non-user friendly file formats – and cartography skills to translate them into robust, visually structured, knowledge frameworks that are easier to work with. In the absence of an official, central register for a given building block, our maps provide a virtual one that is at least a digital starting point to build on.
Our maps also include appropriate official unique identifying codes, and ‘look-up’ index marker tags, wherever possible. As well as being a handy reference in their own right, they maximise the cross-reference-ability between the knowledge resources identified in the map. This may even help you to improve your resource in the future.
Our maps provide robust, flexible knowledge frameworks that can be built on & expanded, or re-purposed & re-used, (in whole or in part), as required, without having to re-ivent the wheel each time 🙂. This means users can use familiarly structured & styled interfaces to access potentially very different worlds. ‘Common knowledge’ also becomes more common.
Benefits For Us
StM gives us an opportunity to test our abilities to ‘hunt down’ official / definitive / plain old useful knowledge resources, combine them in maps and make them visual. MindManager especially is continually evolving so there’s always something new to test with a view to improving our map making process. An added bonus of focusing on our native Scotland is that, as the project goes on, we are discovering more and more about our homeland that we didn’t know before we started 🙂
MindManager is the world leading information mapping software because of it’s many unique ‘information cartography’ features. We are using StM to test just how many branches, multiple hyperlinks and embedded images & data features (spreadsheets, charts, property fields & index marker tags) we can squeeze into a single map document before it (or we) falls over? It’s also helping us test it’s growing automated mapping capabilities (eg. the new spreadsheet mapper).
MindManager is really just getting started with the capability for publishing knowledge maps as HTML5 files that retain all the rich, visual content – and just about all the functional interactivity – of the original map, but open in any modern browser, on any device, without the need for any plugins. This is a completely new, and genuinely ground-breaking, way of sharing a huge volume of knowledge at one time, in a form that can still be easily navigated, and we want to push it to it’s limits.
Over the last couple of years we have been on a self taught WordPress learning journey, and we’re please with the level of control it gives over the functionality and appearance of web content. With this website we are exploring it’s potential as an HTML5 map publishing & sharing platform. The jury is still out on whether embedding 20MB+ map files in blog posts is a the best way of doing this right now, but as ‘geo’ people we hope that knowledge maps will soon be as easy to incoporate into web output as geographic maps have become.
StM provides us with an opportunity to give back to all those professional & voluntary individuals, organisations & communities that keep the nation going on a daily basis. They all need knowledge resources to do what they need to do, so we hope the time our maps save them finding resources can be better spent actually using the knowledge they contain to ‘do their thing’ quicker, easier and with a lot less stress 🙂
Our whole career has been spent using technology to produce visual knowledge resources that support other professionals to do their job, so we know what it’s like for others trying their best to do the same. The technical hurdles involved in creating the resources can be as nothing compared to the effort involved in getting them to be used by the people that would benefit most. This is especially true now with so much white noise in the technology space. We salute your indefatigably with our knowledge maps of your knowledge resources!
STEP 1 - Hunt Down & Capture Definitive Registers Of National Building Blocks As A Visual Framework Of 'Seed Branches' In Knowledge Maps Using MindManager Software
So the starting point of the whole process is the initial capture of all the individual ‘national building blocks’ of a particular type – as taken from definitive, online registers – as ‘seed branches’ in visually structured knowledge maps using MindManager, the market leading information mapping software, and our ‘information cartography’ skills. A single map will contain a ‘knowledge seed branch’ for every building block of a particular type in Scotland, which will run into 100’s and possibly 1000’s of branches.
This is where MindManager information mapping software comes into it’s own – working visually in a drag and drop process to build the initual framework, and then cartograhic tools to visually encode and embed a diverse range of associated knowledge in a way that makes it easier to be understand and assimilated by users.
There are also ever increasing ways of automating the initial knowledge capture process, such as importing spreadsheets directly into MindManager with the new Excel Mapping Tool, or linking to databases. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are also becoming possible. However as with mindmapping, there’s nothing like the physical process of making a knowledge map to really improve your understanding of the subject (especially from a base knowledge of zero).
STEP 2 - Hunt Down Online Knowledge Resources (& Their URL's) About Each Building Block, And Visually Capture Them In The Map As Sub-Branches & Multiple Hyperlinks On The Seed Branches
Once the initial framework map of building block seed branches has been created and cartographically enhanced, we need to add links to relevant official / definitive / plain old useful knowledge resources about the building blocks freely available in the public domain. This is a 3 stage process – hunting down potential knowledge resources in the public domain (logging their URL’s & internal file paths in the working area of our map as we go), appraising them for suitability and linkability, and finally adding the ‘worthy’ ones to the individual building block seed branches in the main map, as both collections of sub-branches (each with the title of the resource & a single hyperlink to its location online), and as multiple links so that instant access to fundamental knowledge about the building block remains with it when the seed branch is re-purposed / re-used.
Thus as well as being a visually structured, cartographically designed, intuitive to navigate and instantly searchable index of all the ‘building blocks’ of a particular type, the map makes potentially 100’s of relevant knowledge resources about them more easily discoverable by potential users, and instantly accessible with a couple of mouse clicks.
However before we dive in to the detail of visually capturing and encoding knowledge resources in our map, a quick word about…
Okay now that we’ve got the preliminaries out of the way, what is the actual process we follow to capture the knowledge resources about the national building blocks in our map?
STEP 3 - Publish & Share Knowledge Maps On The Project Website As Freely Downloadable HTML5 Files, As Well As In Native MindManager Format (For A Small Annual Or Lifetime Fee To Cover Costs)
So now we have our visually structured index maps of ‘all the important things of a particular type in Scotland as well as all the official / definitive / plain old useful knowledge resources about them’, we need to share them with as many people, organisations, communities and projects as possible.
We do this by exporting the maps as HTML5 files (another one of MindManager’s unique capabilities) and publishing them on our WordPress project website so they can be be freely viewed & downloaded by anybody (though download requires BASIC membership, which is free 🙂 HTML maps retain all the rich, visual content – and just about all the functional interactivity – of the original MindManager map, and can be viewed in any modern browser, on any device, without the need for additional plugins or a continued internet connection once downloaded.
For those professionals / dedicated amateurs that want to take things to the next level and amend, adapt & repurpose ScotlandtheMap knowledge maps for their own use in MindManager (or other) information mapping software, we also make the original MindManager file (.mmap) available to download on the website for a modest annual or one off lifetime membership fee for PRO members.
Featured Knowledge Map
Scottish 'National Local' Council Maps
The geographies of Scotland’s 32 Local Council Areas dominates Scottish public life – whether that be through the planning & delivery of essential / life enhancing services to local communities via Planning Partnerships, Health & Social Care Partnerships etc., or democratic oversight & accountability via the election of local councilors to electoral wards & community councils (the next ‘tier’ down, but still facilitated by Local Councils).
However because of the diverse geographic nature of Scotland, the disparate sizes of ‘equivelant administrative units’, the number of people & entities involved, the variations in the way things are done locally etc., ‘national overview of ‘what’s what’ at local level everywhere’ resources are very difficult & time consuming to produce, so those that do exist tend to be very narrowly focused in scope.
But what if there was some way of connecting together those ‘national overview’ resources that do exist, with ALL the locally produced local knowledge resources, to make a single body of ‘national local’ knowledge accessible to all? Something like a visually rich, information dense, hierarchically structured, intuitive to navigate, easy to share, ‘single, clickable index’ knowledge map perhaps?
Thus knowledge mapping Scotland’s Local Councils, their administrative & electoral geographies and associated bodies has been one of the first priorites of the ScotlandtheMap project, and over time they will be used as the framework upon which we will build a comprehensive virtual library of ‘national local’ knowledge.
Scottish Local Councils General & Geographic Knowledge Atlas
This Scottish Local Councils General & Geographic Knowledge Atlas (19 Sep 2019) ‘visually connects’ together general, geographic & electoral knowledge resources about ALL of Scotland’s 32 Local Councils for the very first time ever in a single, information rich, intuitive to navigate, easy to share, digital document. With thumbnail location maps & other embedded ‘geo-statistical’ contextual knowledge, and 100’s of hyperlinks to official / definitive / ‘plain old useful’ knowledge resources available in the public domain, this map will help you to discover what you need to know about Scotland’s Local Councils. It’s also the base upon which we will build many other Scottish ‘national local’ knowledge maps.
If you are new to our knowledge maps then please browse the HTML Map Mini Guide first before viewing the map itself. Visit the map post page itself and you can also see a summary of the map content, the main features, and some fun facts 😉 Please provide your feedback, or suggest additional content, in the map comments, and please also share it with your networks. You can also find other maps using the map finder panel, or the map of maps.
We want these knowledge resource maps to be used by as many individuals, organisations & communities with an interest in Scotland as possible. You can leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments sections of individual map posts, or you can leave general feedback about any aspect of the Scotland The Map project on our message page.
The ScotlandtheMap project is conceived, managed and delivered by Knowledge Mappers Ltd., a small but dedicated Glasgow-based digital mapping consultancy & publishing company with 50+ years collective experience and a unique mix of geographic & knowledge mapping expertise. Our ground-breaking projects, products & services visually connect individuals, teams, organisations & communities with the knowledge resources that they need… to do what they need to do… quicker, easier, and with a lot less stress… and the common good will probably also benefit as a result.
Connect with me...
We have many more maps planned, or already in production, and if you subscribe to our mailing list we will keep you posted as we add them to the site. But we’d also like your input along the way. So whilst waiting for the next map to ‘drop’ (as the young people say), could you please…
Anybody can view the html version of the map as a standalone, full-screen webpage in a new browser tab, using the ‘View HTML map full screen’ button in the map posts.
To download the HTML5 file you will need to register for basic membership (it’s free :-). This means you can view the knowledge map offline in any modern browser, on any device, without additional plugins –
Experiment with the many ways to access & view the maps – on the map post itself view it fullscreen in a new browser tab (the big gold button), or download the HTML file (the big purple button) for viewing & sharing offline. Browse the archive pages, use the Map Finder panel on every page, or browse the ‘Knowledge Map of Knowledge Maps’ in the footer of every page.
Use the comments section below the maps to leave your feedback & suggestions for future updates, or you can leave general feedback about any aspect of the Scotland The Map project on our message page. Remember the knowledgebases we link to in our maps – definitive / official / or just plain old useful 🙂 – need to be freely accessible in the public domain.
More About Digital Knowledge Mapping
For those of you unfamiliar with the digital knowledge mapping process, here are just some of the features and benefits …
Map Finder Panel
Use the tools in this panel, which is included on every page (as is the sticky menu at the top of every page) – to find the maps you are looking for. You can do a free text search, or filter by category, tag or publication date. Alternatively you can just browse the ‘All Map Listing’, or the ‘knowledge map of knowledge maps’ at the foot of this (and every) page for one that catches your eye.
Maps by Category
Maps by Time
Please share this page with your networks so that as many people, organisations and communities as possible can benefit from the Scotland the Map project knowledge maps.