Changing Cartograhies

Topics: Cartography, Map, Geographic information system Pages: 6 (1834 words) Published: May 8, 2012
Changing Cartographies
Introduction According to Silver and Balmori (2003 48) “Cartography, a term derived from the word for chart (charte) or drawing, has in recent years undergone a radical transformation.” This was identified earlier as Anson (1988 ix) noted “Today the art and science of map making is caught in the throes of a technological revolution which shows no signs of slowing down.” However, advancements in mapping have been associated with scientific developments in mainly the computer and internet technologies. Prior to this, mapping had been quite primitive in a sense as Wikipedia (2012) states that cartograms were created by hand before Waldo Tobler produced one of the first cartograms aided by computer visualization. During this time, cartograms were apparently biased as Muehrcke (1974 14) observed that cartographers had “strongly emphasised the visible, the tangible, the static, the physical and the historical values over the invisible, intangible, dynamic, human and futurist aspects of the world”. These strongly emphasised aspects according to Kirkpatrick (2005) were the “easiest to map” which might be the reason behind this biasness. I agree with Muehrcke but nevertheless, cartograms were in existence prior to his claim. Silver and Balmori (2003 48) confirm this: “The widespread accessibility of internet, rapid proliferation of new data-acquisition devices and fast computers have redefined the map-maker’s art in terms from those rooted in history of paper.” This reinforces Anson’s statement that the development of cartography had really accelerated since the technological revolution and that there were generally less cartograms before computers were introduced. These sources therefore, suggest that technological deficiency was the main reason for the biasness of cartographers. The invisible, intangible, dynamic, human and futurist aspects of the world might have been difficult to map without computers and on the other hand, the other aspects were the easiest to draw by hand so would be produced in greater quantity. Significance of ‘traditional’ maps And this was appropriately so because maps had a vital part to play given the time period (before computers) in the exploration, settlement and development of countries. The visible, tangible, static, physical and historical values were most probably more important in New Zealand’s history as suggested by Marshall 1

(2005) who points out that initial mapping in New Zealand only really involved coastlines and topography then later on more specific aspects like soil types, mineral deposits, vegetation and magnetic fields. These were visible, physical, tangible or static values. There probably was no immediate need for maps of invisible, intangible, dynamic, human and futurist values just yet. Concentration was on the production of ‘traditional’ maps. Maps, according to Wilford (2000 6) communicate a “sense of place, some sense of here in relation to there”. And this is what maps are, literally, and would have been one of the most vital information available during that time. Many wars and battles were dependent on accurate maps of topography and other physical features (WWII Escape Maps, 2008). Many developments were based on these maps (Marshall, 2005). Cartograms But Krygire and Wood (2005 3) explain “Maps are a powerful way of thinking about the earth”. It may be suggested here that maps can be a powerful tool for conveying information or can be used in ways other than the traditional or oldfashioned way. Over time, however, people have noticed the importance of maps and the power it possesses to convey different themes in a two dimensional form. But Muehrcke and Muehrcke (1974 336) state “The vivid, meaningful experiences of life – touches, sounds, smells, linkages between people – cannot be captured on a map.” They say maps are an “artificial device” and that “the essence of life, which is the most crucial, cannot be included on a map.” It may be...
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