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Geog 353 Lecture Outline: What is a map?
Update: 8/22/17


1. What is a Map?

Map: 321 Definitions

Map: a "spatial representation of reality"

Map: "A graphic statement that locates facts."

Map: "Maps are Propositions." So what is a map? Which one of the definitions is most appealing?

Some more jargon...

Mapmaking: the production of a tangible map; the aggregate of those individual and largely technical processes of data collection, cartographic design and construction, reproduction, normally associated with the actual production of maps; designing, compiling, and producing maps."

Cartography: seen as broader than map making, as it involves the theoretical and philosophical aspects of mapmaking rules.

Visualization: The interactive use of digital maps to explore and understand data. Geographic Visualization refers to the visualization of spatially distributed (geographic) data, and usually involves maps. Visualization usually means more exploratory, preliminary examination of data with maps to try and learn things about the data (and the phenomena the data represents).

Geographic Information Systems: Computer hardware and software for the capture, storage, retrieval, analysis, and output (paper or digital display) of spatial data. Maps play a vital role in the analysis (visualization) and display components of GIS.

Geographic Cartography: Geographic cartographers understand the techniques for mapmaking and the context of what they are mapping.

2. What Maps Do to the World: Cartographic Abstraction

Cartographic abstraction: transformation of unmapped data into map form and selection and organization of information to help user interpret material; identification of what is relevant given the purpose of the map

Selection: geographic space to be mapped, map scale, projection, aspect, data variables, data gathering or sampling, client needs, familiarization with what is to be mapped (you have to know about what you are mapping)... but mostly, what is chosen to be mapped... and what is not mapped.

Classification: grouping and categorizing; reduction of complexity to organize the mapped information to enhance communication

Symbolization: marks which represent data in some logical way

Design: "The planning and patterning of any act towards a desired foreseeable end constitutes a design process" An act of synthesis: pulling together disparate elements into something coherent

3. What is Map Design? an Art and a Science?

Truism: cartography is an art and a science

The "art of cartography" works in tandem with rules, guidelines, and the elements of "cartographic science" which are much more tangible.

Both art and science are necessary in order to create effective maps

Cartography and Art...

People do have aesthetic reactions to maps: maps as objects of interest, contemplation, and interest beyond their immediate utility

J. S. Keates: British cartographer: aesthetic responses to maps

How can we harness these characteristics to make our own maps more powerful?

Cartography and Science...

Science defined: a methodological and objective process by which we come to understand physical and human phenomena

Map making: combine the principals and guidelines derived from scientific approaches to map design with the aesthetic aspects of design and mapping

4. Ethics: Responsible Map Making | Right Map Making

Responsible Map Making

Right Map Making

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