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Neogeography: A Shakeup of Defensive Proportions


The field of geography (particularly cartography), is experiencing a punctuation in its equilibrium.  The relatively recent prevalence of free map authoring tools has generated a boom in the raw geographic data and map presentations, notably on the web.  In his interview with Rich Treves, Steve Chilton described the inevitability of cartographic reckless abandon by the "neogeographers."  This has spawned a flurry of retorts.  Then more retorts.

But really, it’s not a big deal.

Here is why:  Neogeographers are not typically building from-scratch maps, where a cartographic education would come into play, but rather putting things on maps that already exist using APIs.  Cartographers ought not to feel threatened by the surging number of folks who are learning to share their passion -it’s a good thing.  A great thing.

It’s like writers and publishers growing nervous over literacy.

The line between map maker and map user is rigid -it’s just that the work of cartography has become a platform upon which everyone and their grandmother are adding things.  Map users are content creators.  Maps and the work of Cartographers are no longer static references, but a platform upon which cool things are coming together.

It’s time to get concerned when nobody is interested in what you are doing.


John Nelson / IDV Solutions / john.nelson@idvsolutions.com


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