Hand-drawn maps simplify reality by reducing complexity:
Handmade maps also tend toward straight lines and right angles, a phenomenon spatial psychologists refer to as “rectilinear normalization.” The world is full of squiggly roads that intersect at oblique angles. When we envision space, though, we tend to reduce such complexities to relatively simple geometric forms. Consider this next map … “If you look at these roads on a map of the world according to Google,” [Paul Stiff, a professor of information design who’s been collecting hand-drawn maps for decades] notes, “it’s like a bag of snakes. Writhing and tortuous and twisted. But it would be crazy to reproduce that, every twist and turn, for your friends.” So Wasson simplifies reality, imposing a nonexistent grid on her town. The map succeeded in impressing its users, with one guest reporting: “She does a better job than Map Quest!”
It’s worth heading over to take a look at the rectilinear normalized collection, or the entire series.