Redefining the Map

The article about by MacEachren and Kraak was excellent in its introduction to the challenges of geovisualization while simultaneously fuelling the imagination as to the possibilities of these technologies. As a geographer, I too admittedly love maps as Andrew GIS also stated. One of the things that fascinated me in this article is that the map has been redefined, a fact that is well advertised by these authors. I have chosen to extract the various phrases used to define what maps are today in order to emphasize this point. Maps are now “inexpensive”, they are “dynamic portals”, they are “interfaces”, they are “realistic” yet “abstract”, they are “forms of representation”, “active instruments in the user’s thinking process” and “metaphors in design of non-geospatial visualization tools” (although I admit I am not exactly sure what this last one means). A picture may be worth a thousand words and although a paper map is more than a picture and worth many words, maps, today, cannot be quantified in terms of a mere thousand or even million words.  I do not mean to say maps were not some of these things in the past but today they are even more than they ever have been. This makes their understanding and analysis more pressing than ever before and provides the field of geography with yet more reason to expand into the digital realm through more than our largely static structure based GIS.

-Outdoor Addict

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