8. Into the Future
Computer systems are certainly changing the way cartographers produce maps.
At the same time they are also raising some interesting conceptual and
intellectual challenges for the future.
8.1 Toward the virtual map
New systems allow computers to simulate and model reality by using
visual and auditory cues in three dimensions. These same systems might
be used to create virtual maps in which users can traverse and study real
and simulated environments and landscapes. At issue here is not just how
these systems might be developed and employed, but also how they crosscut
cartography's core concern of abstracting, simplifying and symbolizing
real-world phenomena and relationships. Cartography is a process of interpretation
and representation in which the map maker draws attention to critical relationships
and patterns. The question is really how can this interpretive and representational
task be carried forward into in virtual reality? How will cartographers
be employed in cyberspace?
8.2 Animation and other new dimensions
Mapping systems allow cartographers to draft as easily in three dimensions
as two. Furthermore, many mapping and drafting systems are clones or close
cousins of those used for animation. Such capabilities present cartographers
with interesting opportunities to model temporal relationships, reconstruct
past environments, or simulate complex processes. Could historical geographers
reconstruct past environments in three dimensions or ecologists animate
processes of landscape transformation? Tremendous innovation seems arrayed
along the horizons of cartography.
The National Atlas of Canada
Multi-scale maps developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Last revised October 6 1999. LNC.