Friday, June 08, 2018

What makes a good cartographer? For that matter, what makes good cartography? When I was in college my instructors often spoke as if the means of cartographic mastery were a mystery. "A map needs to be accurate, but it should also be beautiful, but it should be precise, but it should look good." "It's got a scientific aspect and an aesthetic aspect." They found this balance between art and precision to be an intractable dilemma, only achieved by a few masters of the craft. And it is a difficult problem, but after a couple years of reflection I realized that it is not a unique problem. Where else do you need to present true data in a pleasing manner? Or, to look at a different aspect, when do you go through so many revisions while you try to get things just right? Well, whenever you write.

You see, map making is just another form of communication. It has it's own grammar and memes. It is a technical skill, but it has room for beauty.


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