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can we have a separate discussion forum for bad maps?

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#1
chris henrick

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So that we can educate the world on how NOT to make a map? It would have examples like this one. We could probably even put together a book on bad maps if it hasn't already been done. 

 

Just a thought ;)


-Chris

#2
Hans van der Maarel

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There sure are a lot of bad maps around, a lot of the stuff that gets posted on the Amazing Maps twitter has me screaming "that's not a map, that's just data"... The Twitter Language Map for example 6323180339_095a18e2a1_b.jpg

 

French people tweet in French? Who'd have thought that... :rolleyes:

 

Anyway... to get a bit more serious... Yes, I think we could have a discussion forum for that (possibly a subforum of the Map Gallery), but I want to hear from some others about this first. Also, while I'd welcome in-depth discussion of such maps, I don't think we'd want to shame anybody so the main focus should be on how those maps could be improved.


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#3
chris henrick

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Hi Hans,

 

I completely agree with you, by no means would I like to simply bash other's work. Remaining critical of the abundance of mapping that is of poor quality however seems worthy of our attention. In addition to offering improvements it could be useful for others to learn what to do and not to do when making a map or visualization. The separation of cartography and data-viz is worthy of mention as you have pointed out with a relevant example. 

 

Interested to hear what other members on Carto Talk think as well...


-Chris

#4
frax

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I don't think we need a separate forum on that!

 

Related to this - Kenneth Field and Gretchen Peterson blogged about this quite recently.

 

Also check out Amazing-Er-Maps - a before/after redesign of bad maps.


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#5
Hans van der Maarel

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So I've brought this up with the NACIS board and the general consensus seemed to be that we wanted to stay close to our informal motto "NACIS is Nicest", meaning that for the time being we will not be having such discussions here on Cartotalk. There may be an item in that fashion in an upcoming issue of Cartographic Perspectives (the Open Access journal of NACIS) but any map discussed there would be done so with permission from the original author.

 

Discussion of your own maps is of course more than welcome in the Map Gallery section, and we have Interesting Links for any interesting (map-related) content you stumble across online, but we wouldn't want that to turn into a place for tearing apart bad maps. This is not to say there's no room for discussion of other maps, but there's a fine balance that we don't want to tip to the wrong side.


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#6
hasecbinusr

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My personal philosphy on this is that there are no "bad" maps. There are "good" maps and "other" maps. There are maps that may not be displaying data in a truthful manner or in the best possible projection or with the best design techniques, but that doesn't make it a "bad" map. I would love an educational discussion exploring how to make "good" and "other" maps better without being negative toward the map's author.



#7
David Medeiros

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If we think in terms of a maps performance, how effective it is at meeting its purpose or design goal, then there certainly are 'bad' maps. 'Bad' in a design sense not a moral one of course (there are those kind of maps as well I guess).

 

I'm sympathetic to the notion that we don't want to pick on anyone for their design choices and I agree it may not be a great idea to start a special thread for that, but I think it's ok to say a map is bad or poorly designed in terms of its functional goals.


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#8
Matthew Hampton

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I agree with David that there are bad maps.  Maps communicate, facilitate stories and can visually convey immense amounts of information.  There are other purposes for maps as well, but if fail at their purpose they could be considered as bad.

 

I really like the notion of the Amazing-Er-Maps in that a visual solution is to the failed problem is produced by those who have the chops to criticize.  I think it's more productive and provides for a more meaningful dialog than simple map-bashing.  Perhaps we could have a Before and After series?

 

The Map Gellery is an excellent place to give/receive feedback as well as a treasure trove of civil discourse regarding map design.  


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#9
chris henrick

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Mathew, I agree. I believe my original post came off as "map-bashing", which is at times hard not to do given the abundance of maps such as the one of Philadelphia I posted. It's really great to see how more resources are becoming available to educate people on cartographic design, something that is lacking in many areas of higher education. I believe it is important to reach out to would be or new map designers to improve knowledge of what makes a map work or fail.

 

One such initiative that has recently taken off has been MapTimeSF which has spawned chapters in other cities in the U.S. such as Portland, Cleveland and NYC. I am personally involved in this endeavor (formerly SF and now NYC) and the people we have putting energy into MapTime are all very friendly, motivated and knowledgable about cartographic design education. The focus is definitely more on web-mapping than print but I think this is logical given the ease of making a web-map now with tools like MapBox, TileMill, CartoDB, etc. compared to learning ESRI and Adobe software. Perhaps CartoTalk could provide some assistance with MapTime in some way or another, whether it be users starting their own chapter in their local city or by suggesting topics for MapTime to cover and/or good tutorials that exist online.

 

After all, if mapping is becoming more democratic I would think we all would agree that the knowledge of how to make *good* maps should become more accessible as well.


-Chris





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