Webcams, Interactive Index Maps, and Our Brave New World’s Brave New Globe

  • Mark Monmonier Department of Geography Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs Syracuse University
Keywords: geovisualization, webcam, interactive maps


Intermittent video supplied by a webcam affords near-real-time images that can approximate the dynamic scenes of full-motion video. As map supplements, webcam images offer readily interpreted on-the-spot reports of traffic flow, crowdedness, cloudiness, scenic beauty (or ugliness), and other directly observable aspects of the physical and human landscapes. And as easily interpreted cartographic point symbols, webcam images offer a range of visual variables, including size, numerousness, texture, rate of change, and value. Readily integrated with the maps, photographs, other images and the narrative text of electronic atlases and atlas-like websites, webcam images depend upon maps in two ways: locator maps provide the spatial context without which many webcam images have little meaning, and index maps help viewers identify places for which webcam images are available. As a medium for monitoring landscapes and watching people—with or without the subject’s awareness and acquiescence—the webcam is symptomatic of electronic cartography’s newfound capacity as a technology of surveillance.
How to Cite
Monmonier, M. (2000). Webcams, Interactive Index Maps, and Our Brave New World’s Brave New Globe. Cartographic Perspectives, (37), 51-64.
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