Thoughts on “An Introduction to Critical Cartography” by Crampton & Krygier

This paper was an interesting read and a good introduction to critical cartography. However, I wonder if the democratization of cartography is quite as bottom-up now as the authors portray it to be in 2005. Nowadays, we have well-developed, public online mapping platforms like Google Maps and Open Street Maps, just to name a few. This makes me question how much the common person is interested in making their own map, when for the most part they have access to these free and relatively thorough platforms. Perhaps in places where the most popular online platforms aren’t well developed (for example, Port-aux-Prince before the earthquake in Haiti as Liz mentioned in her presentation), someone may be inclined to create their own map the way the authors describe. The same may be the case if a map exists but is not accurate. Otherwise, however, why would someone spend their time making a map if an accurate one already exists? In addition, if one were to make a map in this modern era of transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, with the internet so populated with information and even institutions, could this process really be bottom-up? That’s to say, in a world with so much information from “higher authorities” like governments and private institutions, could individuals make maps in a vacuum, with no influence from such authorities? I would say they can’t. If individuals are pulling information or data from the Internet that┬ácome from a higher source, then the map they make using such data isn’t top-down. Perhaps back in 2005 the internet was still early enough in its development, and enough people weren’t using it, that bottom-up cartography was still a possibility. Now, however, the internet is a blessing and a curs that would prevent such a bottom-up process in mapmaking.

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