On Slocum et al (2001) and Geovisualization Trends

In the article “Cognitive and Usability Issues in Geovisualization”, Slocum et al.  discussed a need for maps or visualization tools to be conceptualized as  composed of both theory-driven design as well as usability engineering. The theory will describe how people think about maps with preconceived ideas about symbology, colour, layout, and representation. I thought it was super interesting to find out that different languages perceive different geographic features differently (as they noted, English and French perceive lake and pond differently), as well as other cultures perceive other colours differently. Along with the other more well-known differences between people, like sex, age, and sensory abilities, these can change ways that people view or look at maps. “Masculinist” has long been a term used in critiquing mapmaking and geovisualization, as the representations often favor a “God’s-eye”, flaneur-ish approach rather than other views. Geovisualization, particularly 3D visualization, may have the ability to change this. I think it would be interesting to revisit the emerging trends and (formerly) current standards that the authors review, to see where this representation has changed and where they envision it going to. I am not very caught up on the progress of the world of AI in geoviz, but the world of GIS has certainly changed with handheld digital maps like Google Maps or OSM, and even some of the “maps that change in real-time” has changed drastically (for example, manifested in Snapchat’s Snap Map).


It would also be interesting to learn who follows the methodologies laid out by Slocum et al. Though they do think more rationally about inclusivity, it doesn’t seem to be entirely all encompassing (ie. asking different groups of people what they like and don’t like about a geoviz and then working in the public’s comments). Further, do people actually use this advice? In video games, many use a lot of geoviz techniques to make the game world more realistic. Do game developers follow these trends? And more importantly for research and academic purposes, have the game developers shared their techniques of bettering geoviz with other industry professionals (like reducing “cyber-sickness” (6), or color choice, etc.)?

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