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CV-15 - Web Mapping

As internet use has grown, many paper maps have been scanned and published online, and new maps have increasingly been designed for viewing in a web browser or mobile app. Web maps may be static or dynamic, and dynamic maps may either be animated or interactive. Tiled web maps are interactive maps that use tiled images to allow for fast data loading and smooth interaction, while vector web maps support rendering a wide variety of map designs on the client. Web maps follow a client-server architecture, with specialized map servers sometimes used to publish data and maps as geospatial web services. Web maps are composed of data from a database or file on the server, style information rendered on either server or client, and optionally animation or interaction instructions executed on the client. Several graphic web platforms provide user-friendly web mapping solutions, while greater customization is possible through the user of commercial or open source web mapping APIs. When designing web maps, cartographers should consider the map’s purpose on a continuum from exploratory and highly interactive to thematic and less interactive or static, the constraints of desktop and/or mobile web contexts, and accessibility for disabled, elderly, and poorly connected users.

CV-21 - Map Reading

Map reading is the process of looking at the map to determine what is depicted and how the cartographer depicted it. This involves identifying the features or phenomena portrayed, the symbols and labels used, and information about the map that may not be displayed on the map. Reading maps accurately and effectively requires at least a basic understanding of how the mapmaker has made important cartographic decisions relating to map scale, map projections, coordinate systems, and cartographic compilation (selection, classification, generalization, and symbolization). Proficient map readers also appreciate artifacts of the cartographic compilation process that improve readability but may also affect map accuracy and uncertainty. Masters of map reading use maps to gain better understanding of their environment, develop better mental maps, and ultimately make better decisions. Through successful map reading, a person’s cartographic and mental maps will merge to tune the reader’s spatial thinking to the reality of the environment.

CV-11 - Common Thematic Map Types

Thematic maps cover a wide variety of mapping solutions, and include choropleth, proportional symbol, isoline, dot density, dasymetric, and flow maps as well as cartograms, among others. Each thematic map type requires a different data processing method and employs different visual variables, resulting in representations that are either continuous or discrete and smooth or abrupt. As a result, each solution highlights different aspects of the mapped phenomena and shapes the message for the map readers differently. Thematic maps are tools for understanding spatial patterns, and the choice of thematic map type should support this understanding. Therefore, the main consideration when selecting a thematic map type is the purpose of the map and the nature of the underlying spatial patterns.

This entry reviews the common types of thematic maps, describes the visual variables that are applied in them, and provides design considerations for each thematic map type, including their legends. It also provides an overview of the relative strengths and limitations of each thematic map type.

CV-07 - Visual Hierarchy and Layout

Mapmaking, by digital or manual methods, involves taking complex geographic information and building a visual image with many components. Creating effective maps requires an understanding of how to construct the elements of the map into a coherent whole that executes the communicative purpose of the map. Visual hierarchy and layout are the cartographer’s tools for organizing the map and completing the map construction. The cartographer layers the mapped geography in an image into a visual hierarchy emphasizing some features and de-emphasizing others in vertical ordering of information. Likewise, the cartographer arranges the components of a map image—title, main map, inset map, north arrow, scale, legend, toolbar, etc.—into a layout that guides the reader’s eye around the horizontal plane of the map. The visual hierarchy and layout processes work together to create the structure of the map image.

CV-13 - User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) Design

Advances in personal computing and information technologies have fundamentally transformed how maps are produced and consumed, as many maps today are highly interactive and delivered online or through mobile devices. Accordingly, we need to consider interaction as a fundamental complement to representation in cartography and visualization. UI (user interface) / UX (user experience) describes a set of concepts, guidelines, and workflows for critically thinking about the design and use of an interactive product, map or otherwise. This entry introduces core concepts from UI/UX design important to cartography and visualization, focusing on issues related to visual design. First, a fundamental distinction is made between the use of an interface as a tool and the broader experience of an interaction, a distinction that separates UI design and UX design. Norman’s stages of interaction framework then is summarized as a guiding model for understanding the user experience with interactive maps, noting how different UX design solutions can be applied to breakdowns at different stages of the interaction. Finally, three dimensions of UI design are described: the fundamental interaction operators that form the basic building blocks of an interface, interface styles that implement these operator primitives, and recommendations for visual design of an interface.

CV-40 - Mobile Maps and Responsive Design

Geographic information increasingly is produced and consumed on mobile devices. The rise of mobile mapping is challenging traditional design conventions in research, industry, and education, and cartographers and GIScientists now need to accommodate this mobile context. This entry introduces emerging design considerations for mobile maps. First, the technical enablements and constraints that make mobile devices unique are described, including Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and other sensors, reduced screensize and resolution, reduced processing power and memory capacity, less reliable data connectivity, reduced bandwidth, and physical mobility through variable environmental conditions. Scholarly influences on mobile mapping also are reviewed, including location-based services, adaptive cartography, volunteered geographic information, and locational privacy. Next, two strategies for creating mobile maps are introduced—mobile apps installed onto mobile operating systems versus responsive web maps that work on mobile and nonmobile devices—and core concepts of responsive web design are reviewed, including fluid grids, media queries, breakpoints, and frameworks. Finally, emerging design recommendations for mobile maps are summarized, with representation design adaptations needed to account for reduced screensizes and bandwidth and interaction design adaptations needed to account for multi-touch interaction and post-WIMP interfaces.

CV-33 - Narrative and Storytelling

Maps are powerful storytellers. Maps have a long history combining spatial relations with cartographic language to locate, analyze, ground, and express stories told across time and space. Today, “story maps” are increasingly visible in cartography, GIScience, digital humanities, data visualization, and journalism due to the volume of available data and increasingly accessible mapping tools. Perhaps, most importantly, maps present world views and much larger (often hidden) stories or “meta-narratives.” These underlying stories often emerge from dominant perspectives that are deeply informed by power structures like racism, patriarchy, ableism, etc. and further generate uneven geographies. Attention to power in narrative and storytelling reveals and gives voice to alternative storylines and perspectives that can be woven together across time and space. In this entry, I introduce multiple conceptualizations of maps and stories from cartography and data journalism to feminist mapping, Black geographies, and decolonial mapping to illustrate the power of narrative and storytelling in mapping. I argue that understanding the power of narrative and storytelling in mapping is an essential skillset for students and professionals alike.

CV-17 - Spatiotemporal Representation

Space and time are integral components of geographic information. There are many ways in which to conceptualize space and time in the geographic realm that stem from time geography research in the 1960s. Cartographers and geovisualization experts alike have grappled with how to represent spatiotemporal data visually. Four broad types of mapping techniques allow for a variety of representations of spatiotemporal data: (1) single static maps, (2) multiple static maps, (3) single dynamic maps, and (4) multiple dynamic maps. The advantages and limitations of these static and dynamic methods are discussed in this entry. For cartographers, identifying the audience and purpose, medium, available data, and available time to design the map are vital aspects to deciding between the different spatiotemporal mapping techniques. However, each of these different mapping techniques offers its own advantages and disadvantages to the cartographer and the map reader. This entry focuses on the mapping of time and spatiotemporal data, the types of time, current methods of mapping, and the advantages and limitations of representing spatiotemporal data.

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-31 - Flow Maps

Flow mapping is a cartographic method of representing movement of phenomena. Maps of this type often depict the vector movement of entities (imports and exports, people, information) between geographic areas, but the general method also encompasses a range of graphics illustrating networks (e.g., transit and communications grids) and dynamic systems (e.g., wind and water currents). Most flow maps typically use line symbols of varying widths, lengths, shapes, colors, or speeds (in the case of animated flow maps) to show the quality, direction, and magnitude of movements. Aesthetic considerations for flow maps are numerous and their production is often done manually without significant automation. Flow maps frequently use distorted underlying geography to accommodate the placement of flow paths, which are often dramatically smoothed/abstracted into visually pleasing curves or simply straight lines. In the extreme, such maps lack a geographic coordinate space and are more diagrammatic, as in Sankey diagrams, alluvial diagrams, slope graphs, and circle migration plots. Whatever their form, good flow maps should effectively visualize the relative magnitude and direction of movement or potential movement between a one or more origins and destinations.

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