I ran across Alfred Korzybski’s dictum “…the map is not the territory…” the other day.
I’ve repeated it and have heard others repeat it.
Not to mention it being quoted in any number of books on mapping and mapping technologies.
It’s a natural distinction, between the artifact of a map and the territory it is mapping.
But it is important to note that Korzbski did not say “…a map cannot be a territory….”
Like the wave/particle duality in quantum mechanics, maps can be maps or they can be territories.
Depends upon the purpose with which we are viewing them.
A rather wicked observer effect that changes the formal properties of a map vis-a-vis a territory to being the properties of a territory vis-a-vis a map.
Maps (that is syntaxes/data models) try to avoid that observer effect by proclaiming themselves to be the best possible of all possible maps in the traditional of Dr. Pangloss.
They may be the best map for some situation, but they remain subject to being viewed as a territory, should the occasion arise.
(If that sounds like category theory to you, give yourself a gold star.)
The map-as-territory principle is what enables the viewing of subject representatives in different maps as representatives of the same subjects.
Otherwise, we must await the arrival of the universal mapping strategy.
It is due to arrive on the same train as the universal subject identifier for all subjects, for all situations and time periods.