Cartography and Visualization

The Cartography & Visualization section encapsulates competencies related to the design and use of maps and mapping technology. This section covers core topics of reference and thematic maps design, as well as the emerging topics of interaction design, web map design, and mobile map design. This section also covers historical and contemporary influences on cartography and evolving data and critical considerations for map design and use.  

Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are in regular font and linked directly to their original entries (published in 2006; these contain only Learning Objectives). Entries that have been updated and expanded are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized

History & Trends:  Map Design Techniques:  Interactive Design Techniques: 
Cartography & Science Common Thematic Maps User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) Design
Cartography & Technology Bivariate & Multivariate Maps Web Mapping
Cartography & Power Spatio-Temporal Representation Virtual & Immersive Environments
Cartography & Education Representing Uncertainty Big Data Visualization
Cartography & Art Terrain Representation Mobile Maps & Responsive Design
Data Considerations: Cartograms Usability Engineering & Evaluation
Vector Formats & Sources Icon Design Basemaps
Raster Formats & Sources Narrative & Storytelling Geovisualization
Metadata, Quality, & Uncertainty Flow Maps Geocollaboration
Map Design Fundamentals:  Participatory Cartography Geovisual Analytics
Scale & Generalization Map Use  
Statistical Mapping (Enumeration, Normalization, Classification) Map Reading  
Map Projections Map Interpretation  
Visual Hierarchy & Layout Map Analysis  
Symbolization & the Visual Variables Map Critique  
Color Theory    
Typography    
Design and Aesthetics    
Map Production and Management    

 

CV-19 - Big Data Visualization

As new information and communication technologies have altered so many aspects of our daily lives over the past decades, they have simultaneously stimulated a shift in the types of data that we collect, produce, and analyze. Together, this changing data landscape is often referred to as "big data." Big data is distinguished from "small data" not only by its high volume but also by the velocity, variety, exhaustivity, resolution, relationality, and flexibility of the datasets. This entry discusses the visualization of big spatial datasets. As many such datasets contain geographic attributes or are situated and produced within geographic space, cartography takes on a pivotal role in big data visualization. Visualization of big data is frequently and effectively used to communicate and present information, but it is in making sense of big data – generating new insights and knowledge – that visualization is becoming an indispensable tool, making cartography vital to understanding geographic big data. Although visualization of big data presents several challenges, human experts can use visualization in general, and cartography in particular, aided by interfaces and software designed for this purpose, to effectively explore and analyze big data.

CV-12 - Bivariate and Multivariate Maps
  • Differentiate the interpretation of a series of three maps and a single multivariate map, each representing the same three related variables
  • Design a single map symbol that can be used to symbolize a set of related variables
  • Create a map that displays related variables using different mapping methods (e.g., choropleth
  • and proportional symbol, choropleth and cartogram) Create a map that displays related variables using the same mapping method (e.g., bivariate choropleth map, bivariate dot map)
  • Design a map series to show the change in a geographic pattern over time
  • Detect a multivariate outlier using a combination of maps and graphs
  • Explain the relationship among several variables in a parallel coordinate plot
CV-32 - Cartograms

Cartograms are used for thematic mapping. They are a particular class of map type where some aspect of the geometry of the map is modified to accommodate the problem caused by perceptually different geographies. Standard thematic maps, such as the choropleth, have inherent biases simply due to the fact that areas will likely be very different in size from one another. The tendency to see larger areas as more important, regardless of the variable being mapped, can cause confusion. Cartograms tackle this by modifying the geography, effectively normalizing it to create a map where each area takes on a new shape and/or size based on the variable being mapped. Cartograms therefore depict geographical space diagrammatically as they lose their relationship with true coordinate system geometry. There are four main types of cartogram which each represent the mapped variable differently – non-contiguous, contiguous, graphical and gridded.  

CV-27 - Cartography and Art

The intersections between art and cartography go far beyond the notions of design and illustration, since mapmaking invariably has multiple cultural, social, and political dimensions. Considering this broader perspective, this entry provides a review of these different contemporary intersections, by exploring three main types of relationships: 1) cartography influenced by artistic practices; 2) map art or maps embedded in artistic practices; and 3) cartography at the interface between art and places. These will be discussed in detail following a brief overview of the main historical markers from which these types of relationships between art and cartography have emerged.

CV-26 - Cartography and Power

Over twenty five years ago, Brian Harley (1989, p. 2) implored cartographers to “search for the social forces that have structured cartography and to locate the presence of power – and its effects – in all map knowledge.” In the intervening years, while Harley has become a bit of a touchstone for citational practices acknowledging critical cartography (Edney, 2015), both theoretical understandings of power as well as the tools and technologies that go into cartographic production have changed drastically. This entry charts some of the many ways that power may be understood to manifest within and through maps and mapmaking practices. To do so, after briefly situating work on cartography and power historically, it presents six critiques of cartography and power in the form of dialectics. First, building from Harley’s earlier work, it defines a deconstructivist approach to mapping and places it in contrast to hermeneutic phenomenological approaches. Second, it places state-sanctioned practices of mapping against participatory and counter-mapping ones. Third, epistemological understanding of maps and their affects are explored through the dialectic of the map as a static object versus more processual, ontogenetic understandings of maps. Finally, the chapter concludes by suggesting the incomplete, heuristic nature of both the approaches and ideas explored here as well as the practices of critical cartography itself. Additional resources for cartographers and GIScientists seeking to further explore critical approaches to maps are provided.

CV-01 - Cartography and Science
  • Discuss the perspectives of Brian Harley and others on the political motivation for the development of certain kinds of maps
  • Discuss the Swiss influence on map design and production, highlighting Imhof’s contributions
  • Outline the development of some of the major map projections (e.g., Mercator, Gnomonic, Robinson)
  • Explain how Bertin has influenced trends in cartographic symbolization
  • Explain how technological changes have affected cartographic design and production
  • Explain the impact of advances in visualization methods on the evolution of cartography
  • Compare and contrast cartographic developments in various countries and world regions such as Switzerland, France, China, the Middle East, and Greece
  • Discuss the influence of some cartographers of the 16th and 17th centuries (Mercator, Ortelius, Jansson, Homann and others)
  • Describe how compilation, production, and distribution methods used in map-making have evolved
  • Describe how symbolization methods used in map-making have evolved
  • Describe the contributions by Robinson, Jenks, Raisz, and others to U.S. academic cartography
  • Discuss the relationship between the history of exploration and the development of a more accurate map of the world
CV-02 - Cartography and Technology
  • Discuss the impact that mapping on the Web via applications such as Google Earth have had on the practice of cartography
  • Explain how emerging technologies in related fields (e.g., the stereoplotter, aerial and satellite imagery, GPS and LiDAR, the World Wide Web, immersive and virtual environments) have advanced cartography and visualization methods
  • Explain how MacEachren’s Cartography-cubed (C3) concept can be used to understand the evolving role of cartography and visualization
  • Explain how software innovations such as Synagraphic Mapping System (SYMAP), Surfer, and automated contouring methods have affected the design of maps
  • Evaluate the advantages and limitations of various technological approaches to mapping
  • Select new technologies in related fields that have the most potential for use in cartography and visualization
CV-09 - Color Theory

Color is the result of the visual perception of an energy source. It is described by its physical characteristics, mainly as a tridimensional variable modeled into a color space. Online tools exist to facilitate the use of color schemes to design a color palette, for artists, web designers, statisticians, etc. Colors in maps and visualizations must be combined to promote the visual hierarchy and harmony, balancing legibility, perceptual processing, and aesthetics. Color is a powerful visual variable and requires understanding the perception of color relationships. Existing color schemes are very useful to select a suitable color palette. As color is not experienced similarly across all map readers, issues about real-world connotations, conventions, specific color contrasts, and adaptation to color visual deficiencies and devices, are also to be taken into account when designing a color palette. This entry describes the main guidelines regarding color theory and related design practices as applied to map or geovisualization design.

CV-11 - Common Thematic Map Types
  • Describe the design considerations for each of the following methods: choropleth, dasymetric, proportioned symbol, graduated symbol, isoline, dot, cartogram, and flow map
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of each of the following methods: choropleth, dasymetric, proportioned symbol, graduated symbol, isoline, dot, cartogram, and flow map
  • Explain why choropleth maps should (almost) never be used for mapping count data and suggest alternative methods for mapping count data
  • Choose suitable mapping methods for each attribute of a given type of feature in a GIS (e.g., roads with various attributes such as surface type, traffic flow, number of lanes, direction such as one-way)
  • Select base information suited to providing a frame of reference for thematic map symbols (e.g., network of major roads and state boundaries underlying national population map)
  • Create maps using each of the following methods: choropleth, dasymetric, proportioned symbol, graduated symbol, isoline, dot, cartogram, and flow
  • Create well-designed legends using the appropriate conventions for the following methods: choropleth, dasymetric, proportioned symbol, graduated symbol, isoline, dot, cartogram, and flow
CV-29 - Design and Aesthetics

Design and aesthetics are fundamental to cartographic practice. Developing students’ skills in design and aesthetics is a critical part of cartography education, yet design is also one of the most difficult part of the cartographic process. The cartographic design process of planning, creating, critiquing, and revising maps provides a method for making maps with intentional design decisions, utilizing an understanding of aesthetics to promote clarity and cohesion to attract the user and facilitate an emotional response. In this entry, cartographic design and the cartographic design process are reviewed, and the concepts of aesthetics, style, and taste are explained in the context of cartographic design.

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