35mm Photos are to Digital Photos as Paper Maps are to GIS

I agree with sah. I’m excited about geovisualization! It is truly amazing how maps have become a dynamic user interface! Even when I first started studying Geography several years ago, maps on paper were almost obsolete. On some levels I want to feel nostalgic, as I do for the era of film cameras, but ultimately GIS is far more practical. In his 1965 article titled New Tools for Planning, Britton Harris writes that “so long as the generation and spelling out of plans remain[s] an arduous and slow process, opportunities to compare alternative plans [are] extremely limited” (Harris 1965). Geovisualization and electronic, dynamic databases allow us to be more creative with existing information.

The MacEachren and Kraak article seems to stress the importance of having a universal map that serves many different fields at the same time (like cyberinfrastructure inferred, this hints at the future and the web 3.0, where the machines are doing a lot of the work on their own, catering to the needs of the user without being prompted). This is where I will raise an issue. I agree that it would be nice to have one map to serve multi-disciplinary studies, but at the end of the day, a tool optimized for a specific field will always do a better, more thorough job than a universal tool. For example, the cross-training running shoe is a good shoe for many different exercises. It allows you to have support in many different directions and is a great shoe for the gym, but you don’t see many basketball players wearing cross-trainers. Furthermore you would never consider wearing a soccer cleat on a gym floor. Don’t get me wrong, a cross-trainer is great, but if you want to get the most out of a shoe, you may want to try a shoe that is sport-specific.

Gone are the days of the 35mm film, quality photos and photo albums;  we’re left with millions of self portraited digital Facebook photos… Quality is rare but the options are now limitless, just like the world of GIS and geovisualization.

Andrew GIS


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