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#1
DaveB

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James Fee posted a couple examples of some horrible maps on James Fee GIS Blog (look for the "There are bad maps, then there are Disney maps" post).
Talk about a Mickey Mouse map. :blink: You would think with their resources they could do a bit better...
Dave Barnes
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#2
Derek Tonn

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What, people don't like the "MacPaint" line that somebody drew over top of their oblique map rendering? :P

I particularly like his comment: "I’m not sure what happens under that hat with the route, but I’m sure it is magic!" Right there, folks, is a textbook example of what happens when you have somebody with little/no map design experience designing a map that is a wayfinding disaster. Thank goodness for this kind of thing though, right? If it weren't for bad maps, a lot fewer of us might have jobs.
Derek Tonn
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#3
Jean-Louis

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If it weren't for bad maps, a lot fewer of us might have jobs.


Amen to that Derek. I have often encountered people (including partners!) say to me : Well, why wouldnt a client take your idea and just hire an artist from Disney to make him a top-notch artistic pictorial map?'
Thanks for bringing this image up Dave, I have a great need of it.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#4
MapMedia

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Twilight Zone indeed. :lol:

#5
James Hines

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Some of the worst mapping I have seen was done by graphic artists who are hired to make maps for the provinical tourist organizations. Taking the example of the Nova Scotia tourist map there are missing roads such as the one to Digby, angled text with no attempt to curve it, & no regular updated information. There have been many tourists asking me where Trunk 12 is becasue they can not read the map. God I wish pure graphic artists who have no grasp of cartographic mapping would let real cartographers do the work. ;)

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#6
Charles Syrett

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Nowadays 95% (or thereabouts!) of maps are created by either graphic artists or GIS professionals. GIS professionals are just as likely to create maps with uncurved text and out-of-date content as graphics professionals. It isn't the "fault" of any of these people -- they're just doing what they can with a work assignment that they've been given.

The challenge for us, as cartographers, is to position ourselves so that we can get the work! Often people either don't care for professionally-made maps (at least not enough to pay), or don't see the difference until there's a problem (missing street, etc.).

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#7
Derek Tonn

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What I always find to be a bit ironic in conversations such as this is how graphic designers or GIS professionals can be "bad-mouthed" for trying to do something such as making a map, yet when the rest of us do something like build a web page, customize a Google Maps API, do some desktop publishing, select color and fonts for a design, heck...place images on the web at all, it is a different story. It's somehow "okay" for us to be doing those things with little/no formal training.

The "news flash" for ALL of us (regardless of where we come from or the particular type of work we do) is that we are all fabulous at certain tasks and have NO business coming within even 5-10 miles of some of the other tasks we perform (even for pay!) on a daily basis. Most cartographers have never had a single class (or even a workshop!) on the science and art of using color, typography (and the education on leading and kerning that comes with it), web design, etc., yet here we are....making those decisions and performing those tasks on a daily basis while our clients foot the bill.

I am embarrassed at times to even be adjacent to discussions at NACIS or ??? where people are savaging the "non-cartographer" for daring to attempt to create a map. I take this issue somewhat personally since my classroom training was comprised of 7+ years of business education, 3+ years of economics, 4+ years of graphic design and several years of classes and "OJT" on web design/development. I've been making maps since the 1970s (professionally since 1994), but I don't think I have ever had one single geography/cartography class in all my years around university campuses....yet here I am, making maps for a living. :)

Is map design a "science" or is it an "art?" Too often all I hear about in our profession is the "science" end of things. This is only reinforced further by the fact that many of the maps people are creating have the bulk of the "heavy-lifting" done by others who have already compiled DATA on our behalf (for use as base artwork or ???). I wish we would spend more time as a group talking about the "art" of map design. That way, we might look to bridge the divide between graphic design and cartography...rather than work on our respective castles, draw-bridges and moats. ;)
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#8
DaveB

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for ALL of us (regardless of where we come from or the particular type of work we do) is that we are all fabulous at certain tasks and have NO business coming within even 5-10 miles of some of the other tasks we perform (even for pay!) on a daily basis.

I am embarrassed at times to even be adjacent to discussions at NACIS or ??? where people are savaging the "non-cartographer" for daring to attempt to create a map.


You're right, Derek.

Almost anyone probably can make good maps. Some people seem to either have some innate skills and/or pick up skills along the way without necessarily getting formal training. Some people get some kind of training. Many people improve if they receive and listen to constructive criticism. The trick is to separate criticism of the map from criticism of the mapmaker.

In this case I was criticizing the map. I don't know the mapmaker or their background. I just think it's a poor map.

(but then, won't most of the runners just be following the people in front of them?) :P
Dave Barnes
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#9
Charles Syrett

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Some of the best maps I've seen have been made by people with no formal training at all. So....what is a cartographer? Maybe one definition is that a cartographer is someone who loves maps, respects the mapmaking tradition, and creates maps that effectively communicate whatever they are intended to communicate.

My brother just returned from a trip to the UK. He noticed that all of the travel brochures and guides, even the free ones, have good maps. They were usually credited to a cartographer or cartographic firm. And people there are much more willing to pay for maps. His feeling was that in the "old world" there's much less of a do-it-yourself attitude, and more respect for professional expertise.

I've also noticed that my clients all have one thing in common: they love (or at least appreciate) good maps. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how much money they have at their disposal!


Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#10
Jean-Louis

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I agree with every thing said by Derek & Dave but will add to Charles point that in my experience, people who appreciate maps are a minority (in North America at least.) The problem I always found is that the market sets a relatively low value on maps. Clients expect to pay a certain amount because a map is a just map. Often I have found clients to be unconcious that there even was such a thing as scales of quality in maps. Usually there is a perceived threshold price and I end up delivering far more quality than warranted. I do this for my own satisfaction and know that aside a few exceptions, it is rarely noticed. Sometimes I even think that those who do quicker low quality maps are in fact smarter than I am.

PS. I too think the Disney map is awful and I am fustrated by my belief that a lot of people assume that being 'Disney' this is the best that can be done.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#11
Derek Tonn

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Dave,

Agreed.....that Disney map is TERRIBLE. Thing is though, many "cartographers" would savage the design because it "obviously" was created by a graphic designer without a clue related to map design. HOWEVER, ask any good graphic designer to comment on that map and they will rip it apart based upon the terrible use of line and color...not to mention the intuitive fact that you cannot have a guided walking tour/path of an area where a large percentage of that path is hidden by glorified clipart. :)

I guess for me, the reason why this is such a sensitive issue is the fact that I heard a few of the "academics" at NACIS in Madison comment openly about how the work that folks such as myself and Jean-Louis produce are not even "maps." Basically, they were sort of indirectly saying that designers such as us do not even deserve a seat at the table when it comes to a serious discussion about cartography and map design. Let me tell you, it was all I could do to keep myself from reminding them that I am actually out there doing work and providing a financial well-being for 30 people (counting spouses and children) while they are hiding behind their universities and their tenure...writing papers and critiquing the work of others often times as opposed to offering up any qualified works of their own for public scrutiny.

I think it comes back to the question: "What is cartography?" or "What is a map?" I would even go one step further in asking about what a map is designed to accomplish or what end-result is to be achieved. When working with bird's eye/oblique types of imagery, sometimes "scale" or exactness (as an example) can actually interfere with one's effort to convey an understanding of exactly where someone is within the context of a campus or downtown area. That issue comes to light when evaluating such things as photo-realistic designs versus isometric design. Many organizations prefer isometric looks for their particular projects, which is perfectly okay. There's only one problem with that: the Earth is not flat. :) Another example of scale or "exactness" potentially interfering with wayfinding or navigation is if a particular perspective is desired for a project, but a famous landmark on a campus is hidden from view from that perspective. If you cannot change the perspective, is it better or worse to "uproot" that famous statue and move it 10-12 feet to the West?

I still contend (from informal research I've been doing for the past several years) that roughly half the planet does not think in terms of "North," distance or street names when navigating their way through space. However, well-over 90 percent of the resources available in the marketplace (maps for sale in bookstores, TomTom/Garmin, MapQuest and Google, etc, etc.) predominantly address only one way of navigation...the way most "men" or "cartographers" (I'm making some broad generalizations here, so forgive me) happen to think.

You drop my wife in the middle of Chicago, leaving O'Hare at 10:00pm, telling her to proceed North 23.7 miles until you reach "Generic Avenue" means absolutely nothing to her whatsoever. She won't even know which way "North" is, first and foremost! However, you tell her to follow Airport Road which curves around the multi-story parking ramp on to the freeway, then drive around 20 miles or so until she passes the big Macy's and Great America just past Interstate X, she knows exactly where she is.

Anyway, I'm adding to my "most words on CartoTalk" title, so I'd better wrap things up! :P Our world is SO much bigger, broader and more wonderful though than simply "black" or "white." I wish we (as a "macro" cartographic community) could just start to see the millions of shades of "gray" out there and embrace them, rather than chastise them for not being "black" or "white" enough. :(
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

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

#12
Charles Syrett

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I fully agree with Derek's points about "north". In fact, even the perception of north itself varies from city to city. For example, what is thought of as "north" in Montreal is actually close to 45 degrees to the NW! Cities often evolve on waterfronts whose orientation will naturally affect the perception of where north is.

I often find that the best advice I've received on design in maps comes from "non"-cartographers. I sometimes deliberately seek out opinions from friends and family when I suspect my paradigm has become too exclusively "cartographic", and a fresh view is called for....

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#13
DaveB

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Dave,

Agreed.....that Disney map is TERRIBLE. Thing is though, many "cartographers" would savage the design because it "obviously" was created by a graphic designer without a clue related to map design.

I don't agree with this comment (at least not the use of the word "many"). I know many cartographers who critique maps on the basis of the content and effectiveness of the map without knowing who or what the mapmaker was.

I guess for me, the reason why this is such a sensitive issue is the fact that I heard a few of the "academics" at NACIS in Madison comment openly about how the work that folks such as myself and Jean-Louis produce are not even "maps." Basically, they were sort of indirectly saying that designers such as us do not even deserve a seat at the table when it comes to a serious discussion about cartography and map design.

I'm sorry you ran into that kind of attitude. I can only hope/believe it is not representative of NACIS as a whole nor of academics in the field of cartography. It certainly doesn't sound like something that would be espoused by anyone I know or respect.

I think it comes back to the question: "What is cartography?" or "What is a map?" I would even go one step further in asking about what a map is designed to accomplish or what end-result is to be achieved.

These are questions we all continue to ask and seek out answers to, to discuss and sometimes to quibble over, for the love of maps. :D

Our world is SO much bigger, broader and more wonderful though than simply "black" or "white." I wish we (as a "macro" cartographic community) could just start to see the millions of shades of "gray" out there and embrace them, rather than chastise them for not being "black" or "white" enough. :(

This comes around, I think, to Nat Case's interesting talk at NACIS "Taking Apart Cartography". (In a well-attended session) he talked about traditions, mythologies, fine arts vs. graphic arts and a lot of other stuff. One of the messages I took from that talk was the advantage to be gained from broadening our scope and talking more to people in other fields, such as graphic design.

I've said it before - one of the great things about NACIS is the diversity of backgrounds, interests, skills, and even opinions of its membership. I value the variety of input and always especially enjoy that of people whose background, interests and skills are different from those I usually encounter in my daily working life, including people such as yourself and other practicing cartographers/mapmakers.


Maybe there's an opportunity there for you, Derek? Maybe a presentation or a Practical Cartography Day session on some aspects of graphic design as it relates to mapmaking? :)
Dave Barnes
Esri
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Map Geek

#14
natcase

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This comes around, I think, to Nat Case's interesting talk at NACIS "Taking Apart Cartography". (In a well-attended session) he talked about traditions, mythologies, fine arts vs. graphic arts and a lot of other stuff. One of the messages I took from that talk was the advantage to be gained from broadening our scope and talking more to people in other fields, such as graphic design.

I've said it before - one of the great things about NACIS is the diversity of backgrounds, interests, skills, and even opinions of its membership. I value the variety of input and always especially enjoy that of people whose background, interests and skills are different from those I usually encounter in my daily working life, including people such as yourself and other practicing cartographers/mapmakers.



Dave, thanks for the reference (here's the paper, by the way). Interestingly, one of my main points was kind of the opposite: A lot of theory looks at "map" from a user perspective, including napkin scribblings (the focus of much of Denis Wood and Mark Denil's recent back-and-forth in Cartographic Perspectives), Marshall Island stick-charts, etc etc. All in part a reaction to mid-20th century and earlier "Those aren't real maps" snobbery by the cartographic establishemnt.

My point is that cartography needs to find a way to define itself that isn't dismissive of non-cartographic mapping, but nonetheless states clearly what we are and what we do. That way we can talk to other traditions (graphic design included) without quickly devolving into a "no you're wrong, and so's your mama" kind of discussion. That's the kind of nonsense Derek encountered earlier; I think there is a distinction to be made between 3D place illustration and planimetric cartography as practices and traditions: there's a lot of overlap, but I'm not convinced they are the same thing. But "You don't make maps nyah nyah" is, well, silly.

Nat Case
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#15
Jean-Louis

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I think there is a distinction to be made between 3D place illustration and planimetric cartography as practices and traditions: there's a lot of overlap, but I'm not convinced they are the same thing.


True enough. Some perception of the difference however is determined by where you stand on the spectrum of mapmaking as a science and an art. If you are techno-geeky, you tend to view illustrated maps like the way you see chemistry as a maturing of the screwy 'science' of Alchemy. If you are on the artsy-fartsy side, then you see a lot of regular planimetric maps as a stodgy, modernist, overly abstract, inhumanly-scaled, last-century-authoritarian-thinking-leftover type of thing... something like communist architecture.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal





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