Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor

As I write this letter, I am looking forward to a number of things: the end of my school year (odd, I know, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere who find school just getting started again . . .), the upcoming NACIS Annual Meeting, and the publication of the Atlas of Design, Volume IV. It is actually a close contest as to which one I am awaiting most keenly. Luckily for me, each of these events will occur within about a week of each other.

The title Atlas of Design can be read in several ways. Of course the term atlas connotes that maps are involved in some way. But is the book itself an atlas? One can find many descriptions of what an atlas is meant to be, if one goes to look. For example, the International Cartographic Association has a Commission on Atlases, and their webpage presents several definitions, which mainly have in common some notion of an atlas being an organised collection of maps. In this basic sense, Atlas of Design meets this definition, in that it is a collection of maps whose order has been considered carefully by the editors. Many atlases order their components spatially, with adjacent locations depicted in sequences of maps. Francis Harvey has argued that we could view atlases as exhibitions, in his examination of Herbert Bayer’s 1953 World Geo-graphic Atlas (spreads from this atlas are available online through the David Rumsey Map Collection: davidrumsey.com). Exhibitions, of course, are often structured to provide a narrative exploration of a topic. So one way of thinking about the Atlas of Design is that it is an exhibition of contemporary cartographic excellence. In fact, the book’s website (atlasofdesign.org) describes it as a “gallery.”

For me, at any rate, atlases are a place where discovery can happen: of places you may not have had the opportunity to go, and of relationships between phenomena that might not have been apparent from examining individual maps in isolation. Applying this concept to the title, perhaps what the Atlas of Design does is present previously unknown (at least to many readers) locations in the landscape of cartographic design. By examining the maps within the Atlas, one can discover both new ways of seeing the world and new ways of showing the world: the geography and the cartography. So pick it up, and be cartographically inspired! This issue of CP features two connections to the Atlas of Design. Firstly, one of the maps in the Atlas of Design, Volume IV is drawn from the Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas, a book which Daniel Cole reviews in these pages. Secondly, Daniel Huffman’s piece in the practical cartographer’s corner illustrates one of the cartographic techniques he applied to the Ecological Atlas.

In CP 90, you will find two peer-reviewed articles. In the first, Fritz Kessler, the current President of NACIS, puts on some of his other hats: those of Associate Professor of Geography and Senior Research Associate in the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. Fritz is currently co-authoring a textbook on map projections with Sarah Battersby, and his contribution here to CP developed out of the thinking he’s been doing for that book. In his paper, he examines the evolution of how map projection concepts have been presented in cartography textbooks over the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and he recommends what materials on map projections should be included in today’s textbooks to prepare students for a variety of professional roles that require knowledge about map projections.

In the second article, Lukáš Herman and his colleagues from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic present an experimental tool they have developed to help designers and developers to study the maps of tomorrow that we are building today: those developed in 3D environments. As 3D becomes ever more prevalent in cartographic displays, it is critical that we develop an understanding of when and how 3D capabilities help readers to see spatial and spatiotemporal relationships more clearly, and what design features best support map readers as they work with such displays. A challenge in understanding what works and what does not, especially in the case of interactive 3D displays, has been that is has been difficult to observe how users interact with 3D environments: how often do they pan, zoom, or rotate the displays, and can they find the answers to questions effectively and quickly? The 3DmoveR tool facilitates observing and understanding such user behaviours in 3D environments.

In cartographic collections, Elizabeth Skene and Krista Schmidt describe their work in establishing a digital collection of historic and regional maps at Western Carolina University. They describe the planning process that helped them to implement their scanning and cataloguing operation and discuss how, in order to provide the widest possible access to the collection, they included the maps in two different library catalogues and provided search terms that would be more useful to library patrons than the Library of Congress Subject Headings. A side benefit to the project has been the deepening of the library’s connections to the local community.

In the practical cartographer’s corner, Daniel Huffman shows us the secret to how he created a complex line style that he used in some of the maps he created for Audubon Alaska’s recent Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. Daniel builds the style using a combination of tools in Adobe Illustrator’s appearance panel, along with the program’s knockout group capability, and he presents an introduction to why these particular tools can be helpful for cartographers generally.

In keeping with his much-appreciated tradition of sharing with the cartographic community, Daniel does double-duty in this issue, writing about his approach to teaching cartography in views on cartographic education. Here, he discusses both the philosophy that drives how he teaches cartography as well as some pedagogical strategies he has tried and their relative merits or demerits.

In visual fields, Steven Holloway shares his artwork, which arises from his practice of stopping to listen to place. Frequently drawn to water, Steven’s contribution explores several different rivers and a lakeshore using maps, photographs, and lithographs, all accompanied by poems.

Four book reviews complete CP 90. Jörn Seemann reviews Imagery and GIS: Best Practices for Extracting Information from Imagery. Jörn's review situates this volume within the range of introductory texts on image processing. He finds that it presents a compromise between technical, practical, and visual detail, which may be of benefit for some audiences. Daniel Cole’s review of Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas finds that the authors and cartographer have achieved their goal of producing a “comprehensive trans-boundary atlas that represents the current state of knowledge” of the ecology of this region; an atlas that is also beautiful. John Swab praises Mark Monmonier’s latest monograph, Patents and Cartographic Inventions: A New Perspective for Map History, for providing insights into 19th and early 20th century cartographic innovations, even when they were commercially unviable and therefore did not see wide implementation. Last but not least, Tanya Buckingham reviews the Oxford Atlas of the World, Twenty-Fourth Edition. She notes that the updates to this most recent edition are modest when compared with the past four editions, implying that a yearly update of the world atlas in your collection may not be the best use of your map collecting resources.

Whether you plan to experience October’s NACIS Annual Meeting in person, online via our video stream, or through the Twitter hashtag #nacis2018, I invite you to first whet your appetite for cartographic learning by perusing the cartographic scholarship and practice reported on in this issue of CP.

Amy L. Griffin
Cartographic Perspectives Editor


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