Thursday 24 November 2011

50 words for map

It's never been easy to create a taxonomy for maps but historically we used to be able to define a map by general function (general purpose, reference, thematic...), scale (small, medium, large...) or type (choropleth, dot density..) though clearly any single map can fall into multiple categories.

This diagram (from a cartographic text book...yes, they do exist and are quite useful) used to provide quite a neat illustration of how we might categorize types of maps but does it still work for the multitude of new forms of map, new map-makers and new mapping techniques?

Online has brought about a new wave of technological revolution in cartography (just as the printing press and computing more generally have done in the past) but are maps online that different?  Aren't they just maps? I'm convinced some of the newer terms are unnecessary when perfectly good terms already exist but progress in anything is often accompanied by a shift in terminology that is designed to encourage uptake and adoption. But is that terminology actually offering anything new? Is the product so different it demands a new label?

I've had a long standing side-project to collect the labels we confer on maps with the idea that I can create some sort of simple modern taxonomy, consign pointless terms to oblivion and focus on what's really important. Below is a list of words/terms/labels that we often see used to describe a map or which are used in conjunction with the word 'map' that I've so far collected. It's a mix of traditional, common use and vendor-specific terminology.

Can you help? Please feel free to add comments below (or send me a tweet @kennethfield) to add to the list or offer your definitions. Alternatively, if you know of other attempts to categorize maps then please let me know. Thanks in advance!

General purpose MAP | Reference MAP | Thematic MAP | Topographic MAP | Chart | Plan | Small-scale MAP | Medium-scale MAP | Large-scale MAP | Web MAP | MAP Sandwich | Online MAP | BaseMAP | Google MAP | OpenStreetMAP | Mental MAP | Qualitative MAP | Quantitative MAP | Single-variable MAP | Multi-variable MAP | Intelligent MAP | World MAP | Campus MAP | Schematic MAP | Flow MAP | Choropleth MAP | Dot Density MAP | Proportional Symbol MAP | Tangible MAP | Non-tangible MAP | Virtual MAP | Animated MAP | Mashup | Ubiquitous MAP | Print MAP | GIS MAP | Sketch MAP | Atlas | Community MAP | Crowd-sourced MAP | Land Use MAP | Risk MAP | Transport MAP | Heat MAP | Hot Spot MAP| Cartogram | Visualization | World MAP | Infographic | Terrestrial/Cellestial MAP | Globe | Dynamic MAP | Recreational MAP | Space-time MAP | Temporal MAP | Space-time cube | Time-aware MAP | Cartoon MAP | Jigsaw MAP | Subway MAP | Tube MAP | Land use MAP | Story MAP | InfoMAP | Transport MAP | Transit MAP | Recreation MAP | Dynamic MAP | Information MAP