Understanding Maps? Conception of cartography according Scottish cartographer J. S. Keates

Journal / Conference: 20th Czech cartographic conference (Plzeň 5th-6th September 2013)
Authors: Jan D. Bláha
Year: 2013
Category of Publication: Contribution in Conference Proceedings
Pages, web: pouze abstrakt
Keywords: J. S. Keates; Understanding maps; conception of cartography
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Abstract: Effort to define the world around us lead people to the fact that all the things and people around them get the names. There are any amount of definitions of basic artefact activity of cartographer, i. e. the map. In this context, it is interesting that in the present increasingly come in definitions, which see the map primarily as a carrier of spatial information. Its share of that has, among others, information theory by C. E. Shannon (1949), who pioneered computer science as a distinct field of human activity. Just the information theory has influence through geoinformatics on present map creation. However, this begs the question whether the trend define the map primarily as carrier of (spatial) information does not reduce the map itself and its functions? Indeed, is the model of information theory, applied in cartography, able to describe the general characteristics of the map and its functions? At this point, there is a concept of cartography by Scottish cartographer John Stanley Keates (1925–1999). Keates presented his conception of cartography especially in his key text, Understanding Maps (first published in 1982, the second released in expanded form in 1996). In principle, Keates is not in conflict with the information theory, but he also claim that this theory to describe the maps and its function is simply not enough. According to him, on the map as an artefact of human activity can be seen now in several modes. As the visual information, a symbolic representation, a communication, an artistic work and product of skill. Most of these modes using similar constructs, in which a cartographer/mapmaker is on the one side, the map is a specific mediator and the map user is on the other side. These modes, however, differ in their basic philosophy. Alternate with the visuality, semiotics, linguistics, aesthetics and technology. When J. S. Keates trying to sum up his lifelong research of cartographic creation came to the conclusion that he never paid primarily communication, but also a representation of the objects and phenomena. According to him, the product must be not only informative effective but also aesthetically attractive. And how we understand maps?
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