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The democratization of cartography


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#1
rudy

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I know that for those of us who have been working in the field for any length of time that this isn't really news, just a rehashing of what's been going on for a while. Nevertheless, it's nice to see people that one actually knows being quoted in the paper.

When anyone can make maps does it, ironically, mean the death of our profession? I tend not to think so but I'd be interested in hearing from both professionals and amateurs out there on this topic.

#2
Hans van der Maarel

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From the article:

Bureaucrats and map enthusiasts in Nanaimo, B.C., have uploaded so much data to earth.nanaimo.ca that the coastal city is widely considered the capital of Google Earth.


No bureaucrats or map enthusiasts, but Jason Birch, Nanaimo's GIS guy and FME guru/idol. Definately not an amateur...
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#3
David T

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When anyone can make maps does it, ironically, mean the death of our profession? I tend not to think so but I'd be interested in hearing from both professionals and amateurs out there on this topic.


Anyone can find a real estate listing, does that mean that real estate agents aren't needed? Anyone can create a will online, does that mean lawyers aren't needed? Anyone can install a toilet, does that mean plumbers aren't needed?

No, I don't think that allowing the masses to make maps causes our profession to die. In fact, I think it brings *more* attention to us, and more attention to the need for good maps.

Seeing decision makers come to an understanding of the importance of visual information - especially visualizing spatial information - is a good step. And they may put up with the an unprofessional map for awhile. But, when you put a professional looking product in front of them - the light bulb goes off. They suddenly start seeing something they didn't see before.

I'll give this example, because it's one I'm proud of:

The Marine Corps is one of the many local, state, and federal agencies that meets with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss a variety of issues. One of my staff produced a pretty nice map recently, that ended up in front of the Governor. He was pretty impressed, and made sure to let our Commanding General know he 'liked [our] maps'. He made special mention of our map, despite many other maps in front of him, because of the way it communicated.

People will always get what they pay for - there will be those out there that don't want to spend the resources (money / time) to create a professional looking product. But there are plenty out there that understand the need for a professional product, and how well that communicates the message it needs to send.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#4
David Medeiros

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It will increase the amount of noise out there, but I don't think it's a threat to cartographers. If anything it is generating new map users, new map consumers. I am concerned that as mass mapping takes hold the bar for what passes as a decent map product will drop.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#5
Charles Syrett

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It will increase the amount of noise out there, but I don't think it's a threat to cartographers. If anything it is generating new map users, new map consumers. I am concerned that as mass mapping takes hold the bar for what passes as a decent map product will drop.


It already has dropped -- way way down. And while it's true that people are much more "map-aware" nowadays (e.g. -- not long ago a term such as "UTM" was practically unknown outside map-geek circles, but now it's almost a household term), the map business has also become heavily commoditized. I often find myself having to make maps faster, cheaper, and just "good enough" so that they compare favorably with whatever someone can get their 7 year old nephew to do! On the other hand, there is still a demand for high-quality maps, and that may well increase as folks tire of "mash-ups" (an excellent descriptive term) and Google screen captures.


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

#6
Matthew Hampton

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What about web 2.0 mapping apps like FortiusOne's new data/map visualizer Maker!

They have done a rather nice job of implementing cartographic rules in such a way that anyone can make a good looking map. It is certainly an interesting model.

I think it is prudent to watch the whole rise of Neogeography, because it is definitely making an impact. I think it is still a matter of debate HOW it will impact the field of professional cartography. That said, I personally think it would be a very positive affect if the outcome is greater cartographic literacy.

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com





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