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#1
BenjaminPierce

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I am doing a little research for a novel I am writing in which many of the characters are critical geographers. One fairly important character is the worlds' best free-hand cartographer. Now, I recall hearing in the 1980's that cartography was already largely done on computers and I can only assume that, in fact, this has been totalized by now. Still, is there such a thing as a free-hand cartographer anymore--anyone on par with the unfortunate Captain Bligh? As this is a work of fiction I am willing to plead a "mulligan" if I must but if there is some basis in reality I would like to learn more and apply it in full. A appreciate all advice and insight that can be afforded.

Benjamin Pierce

#2
Hans van der Maarel

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Computers have not totally taken over yet, there's still some aspects of cartography where a human can output better quality than a computer can. Though they often do use a computer it's still regarded as manual cartography because the computer is no more than a digital piece of paper. It's mostly limited to 3d panorama's (Jean-Louis!) and shaded relief (Tom Patterson)

Oh, and your character is already my favourite fictional hero ;)
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#3
Kartograph

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It's mostly limited to 3d panorama's (Jean-Louis!) and shaded relief (Tom Patterson)


I´d like to highlight that all the research on automated generalization also shows the limits of itself. Nearly all generalization is still being done by humans. And most of the time, this includes the actual generation of generalized features. I´d even say the path to fuly automated generation of a 3d city model with photorealistic "skins" is shorter than the automated generalization of say, thematic map content.

Caveat: the existance of pre-generalized & aggregated geodata makes mashing them up into maps very easy without ever drawing a line youselves. Where these geodata come form, is a wholly different thing, though.

#4
Dennis McClendon

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Can you explain a little more about what you mean by a "manual cartographer?"

Do you mean the putting of ink on paper? A lot of us still draw things by hand, though we mostly use a mouse rather than a technical pen these days. But for a book or magazine where a certain hand-made look is desired, I don't hesitate to get out my calligraphy pen and watercolor brushes.

Or do you mean the investigation of the world? A lot of us still measure things on the ground. I go out with a measuring wheel to determine the dimensions of buildings, lots of folks wander around with GPS units to determine the shapes of roads or trails, and surveyors still look at things on the ground to determine property lines.
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#5
MapMedia

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I am doing a little research for a novel I am writing in which many of the characters are critical geographers. One fairly important character is the worlds' best free-hand cartographer. Now, I recall hearing in the 1980's that cartography was already largely done on computers and I can only assume that, in fact, this has been totalized by now. Still, is there such a thing as a free-hand cartographer anymore--anyone on par with the unfortunate Captain Bligh? As this is a work of fiction I am willing to plead a "mulligan" if I must but if there is some basis in reality I would like to learn more and apply it in full. A appreciate all advice and insight that can be afforded.

Benjamin Pierce


Short answer: yes.

Long nebulous answer: There are instances of magazines, books, ads, etc. that use hand drawn maps. So some cartographers specialize in this, or can do it. In fact, some of the maps may not be done by a cartographer at all, if they are more visual and not meant for navigation. To that end, I do not know of any current maps that are intended for navigation that are hand drawn. Hand drawn maps now are made for visual and general reference, and can be made by either cartographers or graphic artists, or a blend thereof.

#6
Jean-Louis

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Hi Benjamin,
What everybody said above is what I would say also. a novel about a bunch of critical cartographers...would like to see that one day

If you are looking for a character that is the best freehand map drawer, I think that title would go to a real life person named Stephen Wiltshire.
The twist is that he is an autistic savant which could suggest some interesting lines of character development
You can see what he does in this Youtube video: We are all very humbled by what he does.
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#7
BenjaminPierce

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I am very grateful to all of you. These posts are not only informative but suggestive in many ways. I had suspected that there had to be some kind of on-sight hand drawing still going on, and was/am prepared to draw a more-credible way for my character to earn some bread on those lines--and now I know I am on fairly sure ground. I would be interested to know where the raw geo-data comes from--esp. if there is some anecdotal/hands-on aspect to how it is gathered still going on--I have assumed that there are too few satellites and computer-hours available for that to have totalized yet (aside from the obvious fact that some vested interests will want to keep some areas of the world obscure--it is a supreme irony that Diego Garcia island is both critical to a major navigational technology and a carefully-guarded and deliberately-inaccessible place for wholly other reasons).

I had never thought that an Autistic savant might be in this line of work though it is obvious in hindsight--in parallel the efforts of Giles Trehin certainly suggest themselves in this line of questioning/confabulation as well. http://en.wikipedia....i/Gilles_Tréhin

Thanks again,

Benjamin Pierce

#8
Jean-Louis

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I would be interested to know where the raw geo-data comes from--esp. if there is some anecdotal/hands-on aspect to how it is gathered still going on
Benjamin Pierce


True, cartographers do rely more and more on the net for base data and the sources can be very diverse. However there is a string of posts somewhere on Cartotalk about how many of us still go out on location sometimes to figure out a place. And I seem to recall it was full of anecdotal stories ( I originally got involved in illustrated mapping precisely because it required going to the places to be mapped) . Hans is more adept than I at this site and will hopefully be able to find it for you.

Thanks for that link on Gilles Trehin. I had never heard of him before.

Here is a Wikipedia link to pictorial maps which, as was mentioned earlier, is a category of mapping that tends to involve more hand-drawing
http://en.wikipedia..../Pictorial_maps

PS. what did you mean by 'many of the characters are critical geographers' ...They critique maps? each other? they bitch about the shape of the world?
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#9
natcase

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I would be interested to know where the raw geo-data comes from--esp. if there is some anecdotal/hands-on aspect to how it is gathered still going on
Benjamin Pierce

True, cartographers do rely more and more on the net for base data and the sources can be very diverse. However there is a string of posts somewhere on Cartotalk about how many of us still go out on location sometimes to figure out a place. And I seem to recall it was full of anecdotal stories ( I originally got involved in illustrated mapping precisely because it required going to the places to be mapped) . Hans is more adept than I at this site and will hopefully be able to find it for you.

Just an observation, in the question of "where we get our raw data": We actually, when we use GIS data, are closer to using "raw data" than most cartography for the past 100+years, whether manual or in the earlier days of computer mapping (which involved a great deal of tracing other people's maps).

Really when you come down to it, there is no "raw data" except the direct experience of a field survey (even interpretation of aerial or other remote sensing data is mediated). Even field work, except for the original base survey of an area, is embedded in previous surveys (and their resultant maps). We are all riding on the backs of previous cartographer/surveyors, who are riding on the backs of yet older, and so on...

That said, I add all sorts of "new" material to the maps I work on, every day. Some of these are changes: this road is opened, that wetland drained. Some of it is material I got from fieldwork, and here is the thing: all of that fieldwork could, one way or another, be gleaned by relying on other sources. Mostly. It's not like no-one knows where the sidewalks on campus are. But no-one has surveyed them, or if they have, it's 30-year-old information.

A lot of field work is not so much creation of new data as it is proofreading of existing data. It's checking each data point to see if its still accurate, and looking around for data points that have popped up or were missed by a previous data collector. And this points out that proofreading is itself an act of creation: when I carefully field check a place (and I'm talking here specifically about large-scale urban maps, where you largely field-check by walking around), I am creating a remembered experience I can draw from in making or editing a map in the studio: I'm using that to check against any and all paper and digital sources I have, and seeking to create a new record that is informed by, but is not some sort of direct translation of, my experience on the ground/

That was kind of rambling, but I hope it was useful.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
maphead.blogspot.com



#10
BenjaminPierce

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PS. what did you mean by 'many of the characters are critical geographers' ...They critique maps? each other? they bitch about the shape of the world?

Well--it is a perspective, or one might say a discipline in some geography departments, for example Madison, Wisconsin and Berkeley CA--do you already see where this goes?--that applies more socially-critical perspectives ,generally from Continental Philosophy, to how geography and not incidentally cartography is "used" by the "power structure"--My guess is that everybody here knows the drill once the key-words appear--and there is often discussion about how we "use space" and how that may relate to various examinations of the individual in society etc.
I was once blissfully unaware that this was going on (in geography departments anyway) until a house-mate, a graduate student in geography, proved to have read some of the people I had read as a Philosophy major--and he was surprised I had encountered them there (Frankfort School and Jurgen Habermas in this case.

Now--what is this to do with how to make a piece of turf accessible on a diagram--or how to guess where commercially-useful diamonds may be? It is a different study, really. I actually do happen to have a lifelong fascination with maps and with many points of geology (a Wisconsin thing)--and I have my reservations about much Continental Philosophy generally--but I had been thinking a lot about how such things as personal proxemics and sense of entitlement might influence a culture-s politics and use of maps--I have done a lot of thinking since I was very young on why so many stories tie in a very long journey with an inner change--and so even if I find many of these studies puzzling when I think about them form my own somewhat poor storehouse of how to make and read a map--I find that from other points of view, I had been thinking along similar lines for awhile....

That was at some length--suffice it to say that I have gotten enough ideas for a novel out of encountering this discipline, as well as quite a number of poems. As it works out, some of those stand to be published in a ACME: Journal of Critical Geography at some point in teh future.

#11
Kartograph

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As for the critical cartography in the US, it should be noted that while they have a continental philosophical backing in general, they do most of the time ignore the continental cartographic tradition of viewing "maps as models". If a map is a model for communicating something, then it´s already clear that there must always be a willfull bias (that ultimately and always is political) in selection and expression. And any willfull bias is subject to the whole realm of critique of the humanities.

Take a peek on Kolacny:
http://visualthinkma...8552:Photo:1632

Thus some of the criticism aims at positions you´d be hard-pressed to find somebody in cartographic theory actually holding. At least that is my personal reading of it.

If you do not already have found it, take a look at "Rethinking Cartography", cartotalk member and critical cartographer J.B. Krygier blogged about it and has some parts of it (his comic article with Denis Wood appearing in that volume) on one of his websites.




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