Elitism in Cartography

The elite feel there is only one way to do something: their way. It’s true that there are better ways and worse ways but no one way to make a map.

At the workshop I taught at CSU last year we put out about 5 different map designs, all showing the same data but in different ways, and asked the students to stand by the one they liked the best. There were definitely some maps in the group that didn’t measure up. Everyone agreed on that because nobody stood by them. However, there were two maps that were of the same caliber design-wise and the students split themselves more or less evenly between those two. With the two maps it all came down to color scheme. Some liked the bold, more “youthful” color scheme while others liked the more traditional, subtle palette.

Both maps were equally effective in communicating the information. A critic’s job (often self-appointed) is to nit-pick, to deem something worthy or unworthy of your time. They don’t make maps. You do.

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