These materials were developed by Kenneth E. Foote and Shannon Crum,
Department of Geography, University of Texas at Austin, 1995. These
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1. The Value of Maps
Maps are perhaps as fundamental to society as language and the written
word. They are the preeminent means of recording and communicating information
about the location and spatial characteristics of the natural world and
of society and culture. Some would say that the use of maps distinguishes
geography from all other disciplines. The truth is that maps, though of
special concern to geographers, are used throughout the sciences and humanities
and in virtually every aspect of day-to-day life. Millions of maps are
produced and used annually throughout the world by scientists, scholars,
governments, and businesses to meet environmental, economic, political,
and social needs. Many cartographers have reflected on the important role
played by maps in society. One of the most recent statements worth considering
is Denis Wood's book The Power of Maps (New York: Guilford Press,
Maps gain their value in three ways:
1.1 As a way of recording and storing information
1.2 As a means of analyzing locational distributions
and spatial patterns
1.3 As a method of presenting information and communicating
To realize this potential, it is useful to learn some basic principles
of cartographic communication and map design. Cartography is a special
type of communication that does require training. But, attention invested
in learning the basics will pay off handsomely in the production of more
effective maps. Sometimes people assume that such training is too highly
technical to be mastered easily and forego the use of maps. This is unfortunate
because maps could be used more widely in the natural sciences, social
sciences, and humanities for analysis and communication, particularly now
that computers can be used as an aid to production. Some attention to first
principles is still warranted. Apart from the following notes, you may
wish to consult:
Cuff, David J. and Mattson, Mark T. 1982. Thematic Maps: Their Design
and Production. New York: Methuen.
Dent, Borden D. 1985. Principles of Thematic Map Design. Reading,
Mass.: Addison- Wesley Publishing Co.
Monmonier, Mark . 1993. Mapping it Out: Expository Cartography for the
Social Sciences and Humanities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
A very readable introduction to the principles of cartography aimed particularly
at students and scholars who have had little training in geography or cartography.
Muehrcke, Phillip C. 1986. Map Use: Reading, Analysis, and Interpretation,
2nd ed. Madison, Wis.: JP Publications.
Robinson, Arthur H., Joel L. Morrison, Phillip C. Muehrcke, A. Jon Kimerling,
and Stephen C. Guptill. 1995. Elements of Cartography, 6th ed. New
York: John Wiley and Sons. This is the classic textbook, recently revised
to reflect the tremendous changes in cartographic production resulting
from widespread adoption of computer-based techniques and GIS.
Go on to Cartography as Communication
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