Whether in reports, face-to-face or online environments, maps are the most familiar tools for communication about landscape and urban plans. Apart from professional advantages to communicating with maps, there is also a widespread belief that citizens can participate more effectively if information is presented visually rather than in words. While we acknowledge that maps are proven and powerful tools for facilitating social interaction, we seek to illuminate how the tools themselves set the communicative conditions for that interaction. We use a mainstream example – the green structure for Ghent – to illustrate how the map participates in and shapes public debate. We suggest that assessing how maps “work” is a prerequisite for understanding the dynamics of a map-based interactional process and its consequences, which can help in turn to critically reflect on and, where appropriate, change the conditions of communication.
- local knowledge