An email from a GISuser.com reader prompted me to ponder this one and “toss it out there” for thought. From the reader… With all the hoopla over Google Maps, and other online maps, I am wondering if the definition of what a map is has changed? Should the online “maps” be called maps or should they really be called “graphics”?
In my definition of maps, a map has a title, legend, scalebar, and of course the mapped area. A graphic does not need to have the title, legend, and scale bar. It’s just a graphic of an area… Indeed some valid thoughts, particularly when you look at the news, headlines, articles, and discussion taking place via online discussion boards, web forums, geoblogs, and even in GIS newsletters. It makes me wonder.. what ever happened to the topics of discussion from “back in the day” like map projections, datums, principles of cartography, symbology, data formats and translation … remember the pen plotter, the digitizer, the Unix workstation. Remember the software platforms of the past that we heard about on a daily basis.. GRASS, PCI, PAMAP, Genamap, ArcView, heck, even AutoCAD with the ever popular command line which still draws applause when mentioned at AU!
In the world of GIS 2.0 (ala Web 2.0) are we consumed with topics like mashups, flash, RSS, KML, GML, Open GIS (what exactly is “open”). I can’t recall the last time I attended a conference and sat in on a high-level session that didn’t mention Google Earth, Google Maps, or mashups… man I feel old… remember the 90s! What a difference a decade makes. How do you feel about GIS 2.0… are you hyped? It’s interesting when you look at the lineup at events like Where 2.0. The event’s main focus is “location” – I recall last year headliners and presenters were from companies like Platial, Second Life, and even a company that tracks gum spots of all things – social networking was the buzz. It’s interesting to see that after just one year the headlining names include ESRI, Autodesk, Tele Atlas, Leica Geosystems, Autodesk, Garmin, Digital Globe as well as “the new kids on the block” Mapquest, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google.
Maybe someone will come out with an innovative mashup that will incorporate a north arrow and a scale bar… maybe even reference a map projection or datum… how cool would that be?