On cartographers and neocartographers

Neogeography has been growing pretty quickly over the past few years, much of it I think kicking off when people started mashing up location-based data with Google Maps, perhaps the most memorable of those early ones being a mashup of data from Craigs List classifieds site and maps from Google.

With so many mashups online already (over 50,000) and many more on their way, there is a bit of a concern from professional cartographers that neogeographers - or more specifically, neocartographers, the ones making the maps as opposed to the ones laying information on top of existing maps - who may not have a background in cartography, will ignore the many principles that cartographers use to create maps that are both useful and usable.

What is refreshing to see is that well respected cartographers such as Steve Chilton, Chairman of the Society of Cartographers, are encouraging cartographers and neo-cartographers to work together, towards the common goal of sharing geographic information more effectively and helping shape the way people look at the world.

"My contention is that cartographers need to embrace these neo-cartographers, and work with them in the way that they possibly didn't with GIS providers/users, and to get out there and influence the way we look at the world - which effectively is what this whole Google Earth phenomenon is changing in society."

Steve Chilton

You can read the (first part of an) interview with Steve over on Rich Treves' Google Earth Design blog. You may also be interested in his presentation "Here be Dragons: some principles of cartography and OSM" (audio) from the recent State of the Map conference.

In the OpenStreetMap project we're very grateful to have Steve share his cartographic skills (along with other cartographers such as Richard Fairhurst who presented "Why Mash-ups suck (and Cartography matters)" at the SOTM) to help better the quality of the maps that we produce from our community-collected data.

If you're a cartographer with an interest in neo-cartography - and ways in which you could help shape it - or a neo-cartographer with an interest in improving your cartography skills then there's one event you should go to this summer: the Society of Cartographers Summer School in Portsmouth between the 3rd and the 6th of September.

180px-Douglas-areas.pngI wish I could be there to improve upon my - very basic - cartographic skills.

... Judging by my map of areas around Douglas for the Isle of Man mapping party and overview map of the TT course that I produced a few months back, I could definitely do with improving them!