Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter 1
Goals of Cartography and GI:
Representation and Communication
Many of our representations and communications about things and events
around us, in history, even in the future, rely on geography and cartography.
Usually we simply forget how commonplace maps and geographic informa-
tion are, so maybe you have never given it much thought. Nevertheless, maps
and geographic information are essential to how we know the world. The
endless complexity of the world around us presents us with a multitude of
choices about what to represent and how to represent that complexity in the
form of maps and as geographic information.
Right now, take a look out a window. If you have a map of the same
area, also look at that map. Compare your view to the map or to a map you
remember of the place you are looking at. They are obviously different. Try
to make a list of the differences. What is different between the view and the
map? There are many, many differences: trees, buildings, or sidewalks may
be missing on the map, the color of the road on the map may set it apart
from other roads, the connections between roads may be much plainer on
the map than what you can see. How and why geographic information and
maps are different from our experiences and observations are important
questions that this topic will help you understand. Geographic information
systems (GIS) involve many issues and choices and you are just at the begin-
ning of the topic; this chapter and the following two chapters provide a gen-
eral introduction, with more detail to come in the other chapters of the
topic. As you read this and look at the map and out the window at the same
area, you can start thinking about how your observations and perceptions of
things outside are different from the map: some things are missing, some
things are simplified, and some things are exaggerated on a map. Geo-
graphic information and maps are representations that follow a number of
principles and conventions that help deal with the complexity of the world
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