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Cartography

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Cartography as an art can be thought of as the discovery of mapmaking, the process of exploring the world. Early forms of cartography gave beauty to their products with all kinds of pictorial embellishments and decorations. Modern cartography is biased more on the scientific view which hives more emphasis on the ‘how to’ of mapmaking.

Cartography is not dead. Indeed, it is cartography that literally gave birth to other forms of data visualization and representation. Wood (2003) argues that cartography is dead and goes ahead to state that cartography is an “upgrade” from mapmaking.  In his argument though, he concedes that a person needs professional training to produce quality work. Yes, several aspects of making a map have changed significantly, but the generic rules and principles of traditional cartography still apply.

In this sense, cartography should be redefined so as to include or re-align it with emerging technologies especially the web (Brodersen 2005). (Brodersen 2005) is of the view that the definition of cartography should be broadened to include other forms of Geo-communication. The current tools and software/applications available in the market-Geographical Information Systems, arcGIS and other software have been made by or with tremendous input by cartographers and, of course, no one can aid in making of something that will ultimately  replace or act as a substitute to the person making it.

The various advancements in technology have indeed changed the way we do things, but it has not necessarily meant that we do away with the traditional ways of performing tasks. Traditional methods have not become entirely obsolete; rather, they have been adequately supplemented by technology. It is not computers that will draw maps-it is who people do. Therefore, cartography is not dead; it is very much alive, albeit with a few advancements and modifications. Its survival as a discipline and profession will highly depend very much on the response to the challenges of the information age by cartographers.

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