for all newcomers

I don’t care how many mistakes a cartographer makes. I care about what those mistakes might lead up to if the person keeps trying and experimenting: perhaps a world-view changing map that makes a huge difference to human welfare, to the environment, to science, or to happiness in general!

To be protectionist about ones’ profession when one is at the top is to cover up fears. Fears that professional truisms that you once held dear will be upended. Fears that naive mistakes will ruin the world (or worse-that naiveté will result in creative advances that you yourself didn’t discover!). Or any myriad other fears.

To be protectionist of the principles of your profession, to denigrate those who make mistakes, and to ignore creative enhancements just because they haven’t yet made it into an approved text or some such accepted measure of correctness is to declare that you believe there is no improvement to be made to the current accepted state of knowledge.

Naysayers live it up for a short while, if they’ve made it far enough. But they don’t stay there long if they don’t make room for the up and comers. Up and comers don’t have to look like them, act like them, or make their contributions in the same way. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. You have the potential to change any of a number of things in the cartography profession that need shaking-up.

Could you imagine someone who is truly a genius, someone like Richard Feynman perhaps, getting angry that a scientist misunderstood or misused a principle? He could have held an attitude of admonishment for those who knew less than himself. But instead he thought hard about how to teach better.

And if you make mistakes along the way? Roger Schank says, “we need to reason logically from evidence we gather, carefully consider the conditions under which our experiment has been conducted, and decide when and how we might run the experiment again with better results.”

But please, don’t stop experimenting.

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