Cartographic Perspectives: New Lines

By Stephen R. Appel
Cartographic Perspectives

New Lines (Matthew Wilson)Cartography is going through a sea change; social media and the internet have become to cartography what GIS was to Geography: disruptive and transformative. As a geospatial information specialist at a geography research library, I constantly find myself suspended between admiration for the careful and painstaking precision of pre-digital mapping, and demands from researchers and students for immediately visualized results using the latest mapping technology, which increasingly means using web-based, free, and/or open source tools. Much GIS literature takes a more-or-less positivist view of geospatial technologies—discussing them theoretically, as tools applied to problems, rather than pragmatically considering their palpable effects on people and societies. This approach makes much of that literature seem increasingly out-of-touch. New Lines: Critical GIS and the Trouble of the Map is a refreshing view and interrogation of Critical GIS and Critical Cartography praxes, and one that could well prove as influential as John Pickles’ Ground Truth (1995) in the way it challenges normative understandings of GIS and mapping technologies. New Lines employs a social history encompassing cartography, digital mapping, archival research, and modern philosophy, along with a nuanced consideration of modern digital culture, to propose that Critical GIS scholars reexamine and reconsider what the author, Matthew W. Wilson, calls the critical turn.

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