How to work with this material
“A message to mapmakers: highways are not painted red, rivers don’t have county lines running down the middle, and you can’t see contour lines on a mountain.”
– from Data and Reality by William Kent (1978)
What Do Cartographers Do ?
There are many types of cartographers: Experts, laymen, map editors, users…
It goes without saying that most cartographers are employed in map-making, and the examples in the previous section give a good indication of the kind of work this involves. Individual cartographers vary a great deal in what they do, but we can identify certain basic functions that are performed by cartographers in general. The most important of these are liaison, editing, drafting, reprographics, administration, research, teaching and custodianship. Depending on the nature and size of the organization for which the cartographer works, he or she may perform just one or several of these functions. They are described separately below, but in reality there is often considerable overlap between them.
Cartographers do not exist in isolation. They have frequent cause to interact and work with people from outside the profession, and this may occur at any stage in the mapping process. If, as often happens, the original idea for a map comes from someone else, the very first thing the cartographer does is discuss the client’s requirements in detail and draw up general guidelines for the project. And if the map is to be printed in full color, the very last responsibility may be to stand at the printer’s as the sheets come off the press to ensure that the printing is done to proper standards.
– Canadian Cartographic Association: Careers in Cartography
We do need cartography and discipline that produces and puts into use graphic tools of communication, graphic presentations of spatial pattern generated by chirographic, typographic and electrographic techniques. And we do need new directions and new concepts for the discipline to adapt it to the changing conditions and requirements of human society and its natural environment, to bridge the gap between map conception and map use, and to combine topical and system analysis as basis of decisions. Cartography has to fulfill an essential task in Geoinformatics, which may monitor and help to direct all types of spatial development to the benefit of mankind. (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Freitag (1992). Do we need a new cartography?
– Cartographic Conceptions: Contributions to Theoretical and Practical Cartography. pp. 67-74.)