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CV-01 - Cartography and Science

"Science" is used both to describe a general, systematic approach to understanding the world and to refer to that approach as it is applied to a specific phenomenon of interest, for example, "geographic information science." The scientific method is used to develop theories that explain phenomena and processes. It consists of an iterative cycle of several steps: proposing a hypothesis, devising a way to make empirical observations that test that hypothesis, and finally, refining the hypothesis based on the empirical observations. "Scientific cartography" became a dominant mode of cartographic research and inquiry after World War II, when there was increased focus on the efficacy of particular design decisions and how particular maps were understood by end users. This entry begins with a brief history of the development of scientific cartographic approaches, including how they are deployed in map design research today. Next it discusses how maps have been used by scientists to support scientific thinking. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of how maps are used to communicate the results of scientific thinking.

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.

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-06 - Map Projections

Map projection is the process of transforming angular (spherical / elliptical) coordinates into planar coordinates. All map projections introduce distortion (e.g., to areas, angles, distances) in the resulting planar coordinates. Understanding what, where, and how much distortion is introduced is an important consideration for spatial computations and visual interpretation of spatial patterns, as well as for general aesthetics of any map.

CV-34 - Map Icon Design

The use of map icons is an efficient way to condense a map object into a concise expression of geospatial data. Like all cartographic design, map icon design merges artistic and scientific elements into symbolic representations intended to be readily legible to map readers. This entry reviews the types of map icons and elements of icon design, including the ways in which the visual variables are used in map icon communication. As communicative devices, icons are imbued with cultural meanings and can oftentimes lead to the preservation of stereotypes. This review concludes with an examination of icons’ perpetuation of – and challenge to – cultural stereotypes.

CV-38 - Usability Engineering & Evaluation

In this entry, we introduce tenets of usability engineering (UE) and user-centered design (UCD), interrelated approaches to ensuring that a map or visualization works for the target use. After a general introduction to these concepts and processes, we then discuss treatment of UE and UCD in research on cartography and geographic visualization. Finally, we present a classification of UE evaluation methods, including a general overview of each category of method and their application to cartographic user research.  

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-12 - Multivariate Mapping

Bivariate and multivariate maps encode two or more data variables concurrently into a single symbolization mechanism. Their purpose is to reveal and communicate relationships between the variables that might not otherwise be apparent via a standard single-variable technique. These maps are inherently more complex, though offer a novel means of visualizing the nuances that may exist between the mapped variables. As information-dense visual products, they can require considerable effort on behalf of the map reader, though a thoughtfully-designed map and legend can be an interesting opportunity to effectively convey a comparative dimension.

This chapter describes some of the key types of bivariate and multivariate maps, walks through some of the rationale for various techniques, and encourages the reader to take an informed, balanced approach to map design weighing information density and visual complexity. Some alternatives to bivariate and multivariate mapping are provided, and their relative merits are discussed.

CV-08 - Symbolization and the Visual Variables

Maps communicate information about the world by using symbols to represent specific ideas or concepts. The relationship between a map symbol and the information that symbol represents must be clear and easily interpreted. The symbol design process requires first an understanding of the underlying nature of the data to be mapped (e.g., its spatial dimensions and level of measurement), then the selection of symbols that suggest those data attributes. Cartographers developed the visual variable system, a graphic vocabulary, to express these relationships on maps. Map readers respond to the visual variable system in predictable ways, enabling mapmakers to design map symbols for most types of information with a high degree of reliability.

CV-03 - Vector Formats and Sources

In the last ten years, the rise of efficient computing devices with significant processing power and storage has caused a surge in digital data collection and publication. As more software programs and hardware devices are released, we are not only seeing an increase in available data, but also an increase in available data formats. Cartographers today have access to a wide range of interesting datasets, and online portals for downloading geospatial data now frequently offer that data in several different formats. This chapter provides information useful to modern cartographers working with vector data, including an overview of common vector data formats (e.g. shapefile, GeoJSON, file geodatabase); their relative benefits, idiosyncrasies, and limitations; and a list of popular sources for geospatial vector data (e.g. United States Census Bureau, university data warehouses).

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