Cartograhy matters

The AGI and the British Cartographic Society have been running a series of events entitled Better Mapping.

I guess that many of us working in the GI space do not give much thought to cartography. In other words – what the maps look like does not matter.

I have often described what I did to people who did not understand GIS or software as being the mapping equivalent of making the CD player part of a music system whilst the maps and user content were like the CDs that you played on the system. Now if you hate opera then it isn’t much fun having a state of the art hifi system and only having Wagner CDs (substitute your musical likes and dislikes)

Or to put it in our terminology, it doesn’t matter how elegant or snazzy your web mapping application is if you then load it up with ugly maps that prevent you from communicating information effectively to your users. Imagine Google Maps loaded with OS 1:50k raster maps and you will get the idea.

Quick summary of the event –

  • Cartography is a form of communication that should be simple, subtle and to the point.
  • A map should have structure and graphical logic.
  • It takes time and care to produce a map that is fit for purpose.

If you look at a map that you have recently published can you say that about it? If not have a look at the BCS web site.