Jump to content

 
Photo

What to call myself?


  • Please log in to reply
33 replies to this topic

#16
pghardy

pghardy

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cambridge, UK
  • United Kingdom

I think this actually might be easier to understand for the general audience than "cartographer" ("When I heard you were a cartographer, I thought you took pictures of cars..." comes to mind)


I increasingly struggle with the words Cartographer and Cartography. This is despite having previous held job titles of "Cartography Product Manager", and even "Cartography Evangelist" (the last one was great as a conversation starter when handing over a business card). At present I'm a much more bland "Business Development Consultant".

The word Cartography is relatively recent (1820s), while Map and Chart go back for millennia. See This thread from MapHist.

Last week I ran the inuagural ESRI European regional Cartography SIG meeting at the EMEA User Conference in London. We had about 40 present, out of a conference attendence of over 1500. The next day, I was giving a workshop entitled "Making a Better Map (using Cartographic Representations and Maplex)", and had three times as many people. Clearly more people are interested in mapmaking than in cartography!

Some of the problem is that cartography (certainly in English) sounds to be an academic discipline, while mapmaking is a very practical craft, albeit one that incorporates aspects of art and of science.

Another problem is that in the past, the products of cartographic endeavour were very tangible paper maps. Now increasingly, the same skills are being (or should be) applied to create ephemeral screen displays, or intangible/invisible datasets for use in SDIs (Spatial data Infrastructure), as are the focus of the European INSPIRE directive.

My handout for the SIG meeting had a section "What is Cartography?", saying:
Cartography, as used as a term within GIS is “the art, science and craft of making maps”. A ‘map’ in this context means all sorts of map products (topographic, geologic, road, tourist, etc), and includes navigation charts, detailed plans and other visual geographic products, whether on hardcopy (paper, film, etc) or softcopy (screen image, Acrobat PDF file, etc). Cartography focuses on the stage of the GIS workflow from the database to the product, and cartographers concentrate on the map as a communications medium – clear, unambiguous, attractive, and easy for the end-user to understand. GIS users who do cartography are found in many industries and branches of government but particularly in national and regional mapping agencies (NMAs) and in commercial map publishing companies.

I do believe there is a place for the word Cartography, particularly to stress the communication aspects of GIS and of mapmaking, but in general, we are often better off describing ourselves to the masses as mapmakers.

As a final thought, within our professional circle, I wonder if it would be appropriate to encourage more use of the word 'Engineer' (as in 'Map Engineer')? A good Civil Engineer, as a result of his education, training and skills, will design and implement a bridge that is both artistically pleasing and scientifically sound, but also efficient and economic. Similarly for a Software Engineer. Thoughts?
--
Paul Hardy
ESRI Europe (phardy@esri.com)

#17
CHART

CHART

    Chart

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 358 posts
  • No Country Selected

Thank you Paul for your post. The use of the term 'cartographer' to describe my occupation always needing some 'additional explanation'. So I often use ... 'I work in the Map Making Industry'... 'I make maps'..'I prepare geographic data' to describe my work. Those definitions seem to get the message across better.

As for the use of Map Engineer I think it is somewhat pretentious because I think map making is closer to a craft or trade.

Hans, the use of the word "artist" is also somewhat pretentious unless you actually hand draw your 3d visualizations, shaded relief ect...

To sum it up .... A plumber could call himself a Plumbing artist or Plumbing engineer... but to me that would seem out of 'sink'.

so IMO a Map Maker is just that, a Map Maker.
Chart

#18
Dennis McClendon

Dennis McClendon

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,083 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Chicago
  • Interests:map design, large-scale maps of cities
  • United States

I like to just say "I make maps." Inevitably, the other person will then go through all kinds of gymnastics to remember the word cartographer, saying something like "you're a, a—what's the word; there's a word for that, um—you're a cardiologist, right?"
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#19
DaveB

DaveB

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Redlands, CA
  • United States

I recently caught the very beginning of the movie "Close Encounters" on tv. It's the part where the French guy (played by Francois Truffaut?) goes to some windswept place in Mexico to check out some old WWII planes that recently turned up. He needs someone to translate between French and Spanish so he can talk to the locals. The "translator" says something like "I'm not really a translator. I'm a cartographer. I make maps."
I think those last 2 sentences should be enough. :D
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
Map Geek

#20
MapMedia

MapMedia

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,029 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Davis, California
  • United States

I recently caught the very beginning of the movie "Close Encounters" on tv. It's the part where the French guy (played by Francois Truffaut?) goes to some windswept place in Mexico to check out some old WWII planes that recently turned up. He needs someone to translate between French and Spanish so he can talk to the locals. The "translator" says something like "I'm not really a translator. I'm a cartographer. I make maps."
I think those last 2 sentences should be enough. :D


Exactly. And boy has cable been beating Close Encounters to death this week. Its on about every 2 hrs.
Of course when I say I make maps, some people get the image of me surveying mountains etc. and other see me making Google Maps. Telling people what you do, generally or exactly, is a part of most people's conversation, whether you are a cartographer or aquatic biologist.

#21
Hans van der Maarel

Hans van der Maarel

    CartoTalk Editor-in-Chief

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,881 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Netherlands
  • Interests:Cartography, GIS, history, popular science, music.
  • Netherlands

The "translator" says something like "I'm not really a translator. I'm a cartographer. I make maps."
I think those last 2 sentences should be enough. :D


I love that line :D Did you get to the point yet where he solves the big riddle of the numbers?

Spoiler

Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#22
MapMedia

MapMedia

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,029 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Davis, California
  • United States

OK Hans..have you decided on what to call yourself?

#23
DaveB

DaveB

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Redlands, CA
  • United States

OK Hans..have you decided on what to call yourself?


Yeah, I think we got a little off-topic. The original point was what Hans might call himself on his website (a bit different than talking to someone face to face and telling them what you do for a living), right?
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
Map Geek

#24
Hans van der Maarel

Hans van der Maarel

    CartoTalk Editor-in-Chief

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,881 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Netherlands
  • Interests:Cartography, GIS, history, popular science, music.
  • Netherlands

OK Hans..have you decided on what to call yourself?


Yeah, I think we got a little off-topic. The original point was what Hans might call himself on his website (a bit different than talking to someone face to face and telling them what you do for a living), right?


Well, to be honest, I haven't really made up my mind yet. I think there were some very good comments being made both in favor and against my ideas.

I'll let you know when I've made up my mind (and when the new website will be launched)
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#25
MapMedia

MapMedia

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,029 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Davis, California
  • United States

Cool. Whichever way you go, we will back you up!
Today I feel less artistic and more robotic (maps for engineers will do that every time) :lol:

#26
David Medeiros

David Medeiros

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,085 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Redwood City CA
  • Interests:Cartography, wood working, wooden boats, fishing, camping, overland travel, exploring.
  • United States

Put my vote in the category of "call yourself what you are". Creating new easy to understand definitions of what you (we) do further muddies the water. I think you guys may be overstating the problem a bit. I am often surprised my how many people already know what a cartographer is. And if they don't adding "I make maps" usually suffices. If they have a need to differentiate between GIS work and what I call "traditional" digital cartography, then they usually already know the difference or are willing to hear me explain it.

When describing what you do you my want to use terms like geo-art or map illustration etc. But only under the broader definition of Cartographer as your title.

dave

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#27
P Riggs

P Riggs

    Key Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 54 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Interests:Playing music; studying French language, culture, and history; listening to old time radio; learning and playing accordion; hiking, though I don't get to do much now with having young children, will change in the future; fly-fishing, same as hiking; reading
  • United States

My 5 year-old daughter calls me a "mapper".
Philip Riggs
Decorative-Maps.com

#28
Greg

Greg

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 214 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ontario
  • Canada

I usually just call myself "Greg"
Greg Moore

g r e g @ c a r t o g r a p h i c d e s i g n . c o m
www.cartographicdesign.com

#29
MapMedia

MapMedia

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,029 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Davis, California
  • United States

Whatever you call me, just don't call me late for dinner. :o

#30
natcase

natcase

    Ultimate Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 572 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Interests:cartography
    aeshetics
    cartographic design
    John Bartholomew
    road maps
    large-scale mapping
  • United States

My only problem with artist is it connotes attitude, at least in the circles I travel in in the US. I think "designer" is a better word that connotes problem-solving.

But Dennis is right. "I'm a map maker" is good.

Another sidestep is to answer not by what you are, but what kind of company you work for (or embody). "I work for a map publishing company" works well for me.

Various further musings on the subject here and here.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
maphead.blogspot.com






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

-->