My first attempt at a transit map might’ve focused on the geography too, but the origin story
of the schematic version feels almost mythical:
Beck was a London Underground employee who realised that because the railway ran mostly underground, the physical locations of the stations were largely irrelevant to the traveller wanting to know how to get from one station to another — only the topology of the route mattered.
Of course! Beck was the perfect convergence of a person who spent all his time in the system, but was also in a position to assess it as such; I think it’s easy as a passenger to interact with infrastructure passively.
It’s also a lovely example of the inescapable tension between translating data into something comprehensible, even beautiful, while staying true to the information itself. This isn’t a perfect analogy because the Tube map is an abstraction of an artificiality, a system about a system, rather than, say, physiological data. But I think of it often as a way to remind myself that there are multiple ways for me to effectively, honestly serve a user (or reader). I just need to understand them.
A perfect example of this is the map projection, ever a lie, but a useful one.