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What's the future for cartography?

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#16
Charlie Frye

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One role of maps is to answer questions. It's good business to answer these questions faster than the competition. So it's perfectly legitimate to ask whether we even need a physical or digital map in order to provide answers.

Luckily, there are a staggering number of questions that maps can answer, many of which only come to mind when we have a map in our hands.

Sure a lot of people are influenced by the over the top, over simplified, gotta have it, marketing of point to point routing solutions as if they were the only things maps were ever used for. In that vein I wouldn't mind seeing the equivalent of "Wow! I could've had a V8" for maps.
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#17
DaveB

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you can see the writing on the wall in terms of the need for paper maps, at least in the first world.


There is still no electronic substitute for a large paper (or synthetic) map you can hold in your hands, take into the field, and/or spread out and see the whole thing at once. Paper maps also don't require batteries or other power sources or a fairly clear access to the sky and satellites.
Maybe some or all of those limitations will be overcome in the future, but maps for electronic media will still benefit from good cartographic design and I'm not convinced we're close to developing AI that can replace good old human design skills. Maps are very complicated design challenges.

I don't see paper maps (or paper books) going away for a long time.
(thinking about books, I like to bring some with me when I travel. You can open one instantly -no waiting to boot up - almost anywhere and pass the time, and you don't have to wait for the flight attendants to say "you are now free to use all portable paper products".) :D
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#18
byzantium

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I happen to agree with you, but there are millions upon millions of people think that iPod downloaded music quality is good enough for them (even though it usually is lower quality compared to CD or vinyl); that cellphone cameras are perfectly fine for the majority of their photography needs, text-messaging is a dandy replacement for email which was a great replacement for letter-writing; and some funky mySpace page is good enough for their personal brand; so I think millions and millions of people who like living the electronic life will be lapping up the cellphone/GPS/PDA thingie and using it to navigate instead of a paper map.

bb

#19
FlatEarth

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"A computer with a bullet in it is just a paperweight,"
"A map with a bullet in it is still a map."

Maj. Keith Hauk - Afganistan 2002

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The danger is online mapping systems making maps for free (they get their money from advertising) will drive down the value on all maps. What you don't value, you destroy. Consumers will opt for free but less quality than pay for a printed map. Digital maps have the same problems as digital music - people will just swap, give, lend, copy or sell a dvd of maps on ebay.

Cheers,

#20
Jean-Louis

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On this ongoing tread, Here are excerpts from an interesting article on copyright. The article can be found on-line and is worth reading

(...) The booksellers made this argument in January of 1789, just before Paris was engulfed by insurrection. Seven months later the revolutionary government ended the privilege system. No more restrictions: information was free, and anyone could print anything. The result? "Cultural anarchy," according to Carla Hesse, a historian at the University of California at Berkeley. As Hesse recounts in Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, liberation from copyright turned every bookseller into a pirate. Incredibly, identical versions of the same journal came out -- the same headlines and articles printed by different publishers. Trapped by his own advocacy of unfettered speech, Louis Prudhomme, the owner of the newspaper Révolutions de Paris, had no recourse when another Révolutions de Paris appeared. Serious books, which have ever taken longer to sell, were especially vulnerable to piracy, and publishers stopped issuing them. Instead they produced gossipy, libelous pamphlets, which flew off the shelves before anyone could counterfeit them. As for the great texts of the Enlightenment, Hesse writes, "once legalized and freed for all to copy and sell," they "fell out of print."

(....) . Anticipating the visions of digitophiles today, Condorcet limned a utopia in which the citizenry manipulated and circulated information with absolute freedom. Confronted by the reality that lifting all restrictions on literary property had triggered a cultural race for the bottom, the marquis changed his mind. Early in 1790 he proposed giving authors power over their own work lasting until ten years after their deaths. The proposal -- the basis for France's first modern copyright law -- passed in 1793, by which time Condorcet had been purged by the Revolution. He died in prison a year later.

(…)
Content providers have instead relied on two other time-tested strategies. One is to shout for attention -- as the Fox network does when it broadcasts videos of wild-animal attacks, or Matthew Drudge does when he prints lurid rumors about political figures in the online Drudge Report. A second strategy is to try to produce works with some special quality, and thereby attract a small, loyal audience. Highbrow artists adopt this method, and so does almost everyone who isn't purveying animal-attack videos: Charles Wuorinen, the atonal composer, and R. Crumb, the underground cartoonist. This strategy produces most of the diversity. From the standpoint of society, a major goal of copyright is to smooth diversity's path, by giving creators special rights to exploit their work. If copyright becomes meaningless, the durable economic principles Varian speaks of will make it almost impossible to create works for small, specialized audiences, and an awful shrieking homogeneity will beset the culture

From::Who will own your next good idea - . The battle over the future of intellectual property. by Charles Mann. The Atlantic sept.1998 ‘
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#21
Derek Tonn

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"A computer with a bullet in it is just a paperweight,"
"A map with a bullet in it is still a map."

Maj. Keith Hauk - Afganistan 2002

---
The danger is online mapping systems making maps for free (they get their money from advertising) will drive down the value on all maps. What you don't value, you destroy. Consumers will opt for free but less quality than pay for a printed map. Digital maps have the same problems as digital music - people will just swap, give, lend, copy or sell a dvd of maps on ebay.


I have yet to find an industry where there is not at least some portion or element that works to provide "low-cost leadership" and indirectly serve to push their products/services more into "commodity." Mapping is no different. However, I personally have seen just as many (or probably more) garbage/throw-away maps in print as I have seen on-screen. The world is littered (literally!) with bad, ugly maps. Some folks get them hyper-accurate, but it takes a three-page legend or an Engineering degree to decipher them. Other people make beautiful designs but forget that wayfinding is the general point for most folks who are purchasing/using a map....so their designs are either confusing or they price them beyond the point that many consumers are willing to pay (kind of like my artist-friend who develops absolutely BEAUTIFUL paintings and illustrations, then wonders why nobody is buying them for $3,000-$10,000 apiece, and then complains about "ignorant" consumers not understanding or appreciating what he does).

The key to survival in our industry is niche marketing. Have a specialty in the field of map design and then aggressively promoting/exploiting it. What makes you (us) better than almost anyone else in our industry? What makes you (us) worth hiring? If you (we) do not have rock-solid answers to those questions AND it is something that can and has been clearly conveyed to our prospective clients, then we are fooling ourselves if we do not think that consumers are going to opt towards either the more "cool"/convenient solution or the more affordable solution. We can grumble and moan about the 73 reasons why paper maps are "better" than their digital counterparts. However, unless we can clearly communicate WHY to the general population and not just one another, we're wasting our breath.

As for Maj. Hauk, he obviously has not heard about our SeeBuddee product as of yet. :P Seriously though, FILM is another fabulous solution to either paper or digital display. That's kind of what I am talking about though. Thinking "outside the box," and being willing to occasionally look at our world (and our industry) with a different pair of eyes (or at least a different pair of sunglasses).

Derek
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#22
natcase

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I ditto what Derek said about commoditization. This looming commoditization predates Google et al, and is more a result of public data becoming easier to manipulate into acceptable cartography.

To me this parallels the development of the snapshot camera: no longer do you have to hire a photographer to take a picture of the wife and kids. That segment of the market is now between the public and a few big companies (Rochester NY was at one time like Silicon Valley in terms of tech-related wealth).

This does not mean photographers are out of business:

- if a news organization wants to be sure they get a crucial shot, they hire someone to be there and to click their shutter at the right time, not be fumbling with their lens cover or talking to family as they watch the game or the parade.

- if an advertiser wants a product shot lit perfectly and staged to maximize the look of their product, they hire a pro.

- experienced portrait and landscape photographers have developed skills beyond your average amateur.

Now, this doesn't meant that Flickr and open-admission stock sources haven't changed the industry yet again; it does mean that the question of how to make a satisfying living at making photos and maps involves being willing to recast your role, and, as Derek says, find your niche.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
maphead.blogspot.com



#23
Matthew Hampton

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I think the near-future of mapping (not really cartography, though) will look a lot like this.

Oregon Metro - Portland, OR
www.oregonmetro.gov


#24
Caledon_Carto

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Matthew,
its a good discussion and one thats probably been going on since the early inception of electronic mapping. The same discussion happens with books and in reality things will largely stay the same. Infact both books and maps are selling in larger numbers than ever.
The role of the cartographer will still remain and the important aspect is to make sure that you are still heard.

Our role of helping people to better understand geography and interpret it into a meaningful and relative experience is still required no matter how many amateur cartographers there are out there. We also have a responsibility to manage the data around this. These are key components in any cartographers skill.

The link was not the future but just one small aspect of the future.

As Cartographers we still have a responsibility to ensure that whatever the medium of the map, it is still clear! :D

We just need to make sure we retain the influence and continue to adapt to the now bewildering availability of map making tools there are out there.

We still have exciting times ahead and even Google Maps/Earth have opened up new and exciting avenues.

In the growing throng we might just need to shout a little louder! :lol:




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