Do people ask you to get lost and you know that you already are? When you walk out of Wal-Mart, do you stare at the overcrowded parking lot and realize you have no idea where your car is? Fine, you don't have to admit to it. Colin Ellard's book, You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall, is a well researched presentation on how humans conceive their space and how we can use such knowledge.
It's laid out quite logically — from an overview of spatial layout in the brains of man and animal, and our navigational skills, to the layouts of our home and work areas and into the metaworld of cyberspace.
It introduced me to some new concepts; for example, isovist, which is the visible space from a vantage point. In other words, as I sit here at my computer, I can see the living room of my house and down the hallway into my bedroom. That's my isovist, basically.
How about space syntax? If I understand the basics correctly, this is reducing a floor plan to points and lines. For example, draw a rough floor plan of your home. Next to it, sketch another, only this time use a dot to represent a room. Draw a line from this dot to the next room, the lines thus representing doorways and hallways. It simplifies greatly the view of a floor plan. Imagine this on a city-scale.
These concepts certainly are useful for those in urban planning professions. And, in fact, Ellard does write about city planning and discusses the environmental impact cities have had, both with good planning and the lack of planning. But the book also covers home layouts and work layouts; if you have opportunity to provide input on design of workspace there are good principles here to consider.
He also reviews cyberspace and its impact. He talks about how easily we can accept virtual worlds. Part of this, Colin Ellard argues, is due to the way our brain is wired to understand space. We can take ourselves out of wherever we are, mentally, and go to other places. We're not focused on where we are at the moment (sounds like Yoda talking about Luke: "Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing!").