Realized geovisualization goals

MacEachren and Kraak authored this article in 2000, a year before the release of Keyhole Earthview and five years before Google Earth. In the piece, the authors show the results of collaborations of teams of cartographers and their decisions on the next steps in geovisualization. They mention broad challenges pertaining to data storage, group-enabled technology, and human-based geovisualization. The aims are fairly clear, but there are very few, if any, actual solutions proposed by the authors.

While reading the article, I had to repeatedly remind myself that it was written a dozen years ago, when technologies were a bit more limited. Most notably, there appears to be a very clear top-bottom approach in the thinking here, very reminiscent of Web 1.0, where information was created by a specialized provider and consumed by the user. In the years since this piece was written, Web 2.0—stressing a sharing, collaborative, dynamic, and much more user-friendly paradigm—has largely eclipsed the Web as we understood it at the turn of the millennium. In turn, many of the challenges noted by MacEachren and Kraak have been addressed in various ways. For one, cloud storage and cheaper physical consumer storage have in large part solved the data storage issue. Additionally, Google has taken the driver’s seat in developing an integrated system of database creation and dynamic mapping, with Fusion Tables and KMLs, that are both extremely user-friendly. And there are constantly applications and programs being created and launched that enable group mapping and decision support. MacEachren and Kraak did not offer concrete solutions, but the information technology community certainly has.

– JMonterey

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