Welcome to the International Cartographic Association
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic AssociationJune’s Map of the Month: World atlas in Polish and Braille
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Map of the Month 07/2014: Death in Grand Canyon
June’s Map of the Month is a world atlas in Polish and Braille
Map of the Month 05/2014: Physical Geography of Ukraine

Former ICA president Fraser Taylor receives 2014 Killam Prize

Fraser Taylor, Source: canadacouncil.ca

D. R. Fraser Taylor, recipient of the 2014 Killam Prize

The ICA is pleased to inform that former ICA President Prof Fraser Taylor received one of the highest Canadian awards – the Killam Prize – for his outstanding contributions as a cartographer. This demonstrates once more that cartography is relevant, attractive and modern and it is good to see that proponents of our discipline are recognized in such a noble manner.

Congratulations, Fraser Taylor!

Georg Gartner
President, ICA

 

From the press release of the Canada Council for the Arts:

Ottawa, April 9, 2014 – Five of Canada’s top scholars and scientists were recognized today as the Canada Council for the Arts announced the winners of the 2014 Killam Prizes, which awards $100,000 to each recipient.

The winners are:

  • Sajeev John, University of Toronto
  • Andreas Mandelis, University of Toronto
  • James Miller, University of Saskatchewan
  • Francis Plummer, University of Manitoba
  • Fraser Taylor, Carleton University

These are Canadians who have made their mark in the international race to find an effective HIV vaccine, pioneered diffusion wave technologies that are revolutionizing medical diagnostic methods, introduced the new discipline of “Cybercartography” and its capacity to illuminate socio-economic issues, enhanced our understanding of relations between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, and developed optical technologies that will transform the way information systems transmit data.

For more information:

President’s Blog: Season’s Greetings

Dear collegue and friend of ICA,

The year 2013 was in many ways a most successful year for cartography and the International Cartographic Association.

We are witnessing an enormous popularity of maps. Today maps can be created and used by anyone with just modest computing skills from virtually any location on Earth and for almost any purpose. Cartographic data may be digitally and wirelessly delivered in finalized form to the device in the hands of the users or they may derive the requested visualization from downloaded data in situ. Real-time data handling and visualization are other significant developments as well as location-based services and mobile cartography. We see a significant interest of big companies to participate in these developments as well as an ever growing number of map users.

We are witnessing growing awareness for the relevance of communicating spatial data efficiently through maps. Maps and cartography play a key role for our society, economy and decision making processes and this becomes more and more understood by governments, authorities, companies and the society, thus driving developments such as Spatial Data Infrastructures and Service-oriented Cartography. It was interesting to see, that the United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) is confirming this statement exactly, because maps are most efficient in enabling human users to understand complex situations. Maps can be understood as tools to order information by their spatial context. Maps can be seen as the perfect interface between a human user and all those big data and thus enable human users to answer location-related questions, to support spatial behavior, to enable spatial problem solving or simply to be able to become aware of space.

Cartography is facing fast, challenging and demanding developments. But on the other hand it’s highly rewarding to contribute to cartographic research, developments, applications or products. Such contributions have been done under the umbrella of the many, many activities of the International Cartographic Association in 2013, with the International Cartographic Conference in Dresden as highlight!

Therefore I would like to use this opportunity to thank all of the many commission chairs, commission members, committee members, participants at ICA events, correspondents, cartographers and GIScientists or simply friends of ICA which have contributed to the further development of our most attractive, modern and relevant discipline!

With this I would like to express my sincere season’s greetings and wish all of us a most successful, interesting “cartographic” year 2014!

Georg Gartner
President of the International Cartographic Association

President’s Blog: It’s OK to be a Cartographer!

A graffiti wall in Dresden, 2013

A graffiti wall in Dresden, 2013

In my opening address at the International Cartographic Conference 2013 in Dresden, Germany I argued, that there is quite some confusion about the status, relevance and importance of Cartography. While the term “map” is most popular and sees its arrival in big business debates amongst major software companies, in mass market applications related to new technologies such as mobile devices or in the mass media, the term cartography provokes the question “Is that still around?” It is more likely that those, who are involved in making maps nowadays call themselves not a cartographer but rather something else.

I argued further, that the enormous relevance of the ever growing amount of geodata and geoinformation can only be “unleashed” when it becomes accessible to human users. To make geodata and geoinformation accessible to human users means to try to package it in a way that it can be perceived, “digested” and used, thus simply communicated. I argued further, that this was and is exactly the aim and contribution of cartography. Maps are most successful in being the interface between spatial data and human users. They order information based on the spatial attribute, they engage to explore, the can be entertaining, they help to become spatially aware, they tell stories, they help me to position myself in a particular topic by showing entities and their relations.

I argued that without this contribution we would be somehow “spatially blind.” Maps enable us to answer space-related questions. Maps can be used to support spatial behaviour. I argued further, that in order to enable spatial thinking, spatial planning, spatial reasoning or decision making cartography is needed. I pointed out that maps are the most successful and powerful instruments to enable spatial awareness.

By looking at those arguments as a way to describe the relevance of cartography as a discipline and the enormous drive and popularity cartography gets from applying most contemporary technologies I argued in my take-away messages:

  1. Cartography is relevant
  2. Cartography is attractive
  3. Cartography is most contemporary

If my arguments are trueg, then there is no need to step back or hide away as a cartographer but rather the other way around. It is of high importance that cartography and cartographers are actively contributing their skills, knowledge, methods and research to the geospatial domains.

I therefore argued, that
It is OK, to be a Cartographer!

Georg Gartner
President of the International Cartographic Association

President’s Blog: ICC 2013 is only some weeks away!

logo_icc2013All of us in the north hemisphere are eventually enjoying the summer, holidays or working under summer conditions. If you are situated in the southern hemisphere this might be just the other way around, you are facing the winter.

However, for all of us our gathering at the International Cartographic Conference 2013 end of August in Dresden, Germany is only some weeks away.

I am excited by the fact, that we will have the chance to listen to the newest developments of modern cartography, appreciate the latest scientific results, learn to know about new methods and applications. I am looking forward to admire the newest maps being submitted from countries all over the world being displayed at the International Map Exhibition. I am eagerly waiting to see the maps being drawn by children all over the world at the Barbara Petchenik Children Maps Competition. I am especially looking forward to simply meet you, to discuss with you and to feel comfortable in the big family of cartography and ICA!

Dresden is only some weeks away. I see you there!

President’s Blog: How do we name what we do?

For all of us being around in our domain for a while we have witnessed quite some transitions not only in what we do and how we do it but especially also how we name it. We have seen the move from terms like “cartography” to terms like “GIS”, “geomatics”, “geoinformation science”, “geoinformation”, “geovisualisation”, “visual analytics”, “geospatial information management” just to name a few. All those terms have a short history that basically dates back to the inauguration of using computers to make maps.

Maybe you experience as well that it is hard sometimes to describe this “geo-spatial-visual something” to non-industry insiders, but there are universal term that everyone recognizes, and that’s maps and cartography. But, why we are not using this simple, universal and established terms?

Maps are big news right now. Influenced by companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft and the status of maps as a must-have on smart phones and web applications they are very attractive to many. The term “map” seems to see its repeated revival as a contemporary, relevant and attractive term for something contemporary, relevant and attractive.

However, it seems as if the term “cartography” is seen differently. Interestingly enough, often especially by those, who are the experts, the specialists and closely related to the domain. Maybe it is because it feels like it needs a different name to describe that the job we are doing in dealing with maps has become different. Often different technologies and methods are used, something which demands new and often very complex competences. How can it then still be named the same? Is it not necessary that the name describing what an industry is doing, what an expert in a discipline is doing needs to somehow reflect these changed competences which change methods and technologies? Is it not very much needed that I can name what I am doing as something most modern, complex, contemporary, as this will lead to respect, appreciation and recognition? And if I am calling myself a “cartographer”, being involved in “cartography”, will this lead to the same respect, appreciation and recognition, or will I rather be associated with something old-fashioned, out-dated?

There are for sure a lot of rationales for terms being used in our domains, and they all have their relevance. However, it seems as if the term “cartography” seems to become avoided, especially by cartographers, while many of the things being done under the umbrella of other terms could easily simply be called “cartography”.

In communication science we use the theory of semiotics to explain communication processes. In this model, syntactical, semantic and pragmatic dimensions are used. Unlike semantics, which examines meaning that is conventional or “coded” in a given language, pragmatics studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on structural and linguistic knowledge of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance.

If this is true, then it is an always ongoing process in how we use and understand terms. This use and understanding is influenceable. This applies to the term “map” and “cartography” as well. It is therefore in the interest of ICA to contribute to this process.

While the definition of “cartography” and “map” as published by ICA still lasts back to the 1970s we need to revisit this definitions. You will soon see some related action in this respect, and obviously we are very much interested in YOUR perspective and understanding.
How do you name what you are doing?

President’s Blog: eCARTO News

ICA just launched a new service, the eCARTO News!

Beneath the contemporary ICA-related entries at the ICA website and the excellent ICA News being edited by Igor Drecki, compiling relevant information about all ongoing activities within ICA, there are numerous activities, development, stories and issues outside the world of ICA – but maybe of interest to cartographers and GI scientists. Such stories, news and announcements can be found in journals, in media, on the Internet and even in newspapers.

Dr David Fraser

Dr David Fraser – editor of the eCARTO News

Dr David Fraser, the former Chair of the ICA Commission on Education and a retired professor of RMIT University Melbourne, is assembling such news since years. He has made them available as email-based newsletter to the Commission members. We have invited him to share his compilation with the family of ICA from now on. David’s compilation will be a list of links, inviting you to explore what he has found for us. If you have any general cartography items of interest then please email them to the editor of eCARTO News.

I am looking forward to your responses to this new service. Please be aware, that all ICA-related topics will be covered in our existing proven instruments, especially the ICA News.

Georg Gartner
President of the International Cartographic Association

President’s Blog: Publications

ICA has a long tradition in publishing results of ICA-related work. This includes books, journals, proceedings and online resources.

Books

Books have been published with Butterworth Heinemann, Map Collector Publications and Elsevier in the past. Since 2011 ICA is entitled to publish results of their activities, such as commission work, conferences or symposia in a subseries of the Lecture Notes on Geoinformation and Cartography of the Springer-Verlag, called Publications of the International Cartographic Association. Currently nine projects are listed in this series, some of them in progress. In its joined meeting with all commission chairs the current Executive Committee strongly encourages all commissions to consider the opportunity to publish outcome of the work of commissions in this book series. Thus more book projects can be expected in the next years to come.

Journals

In terms of journals ICA is – other than comparable sister societies – not running an own journal so far. In many countries related to ICA journals exist, most of them are often accepting papers in the local language only, while the English speaking journals run by the respective national societies of Canada (Cartographica), USA (Cartography and Geographic Information Science) and the UK (The Cartographic Journal) have gained international presence, and thus are important partners of ICA. Due to the raising importance of the availability of high-quality publication media, as a key indicator for a scientific discipline and the academics working in this discipline, the journals within the domain of Cartography have put some efforts in making themselves aware of this situation. Some journals start to accept English papers, many have adopted a peer-reviewing system to control the quality, usually you can find an international editorial board and some are even trying to get accepted for quality measuring systems, allowing for calculating impact factors, something which needs to be referred to when applying for jobs in academia.

Proceedings

The online availability of all proceedings of International Cartographic Conferences since 1993 has proven to be a most useful source. We aim on continuing this service after the next conferences as well. At this point I would like to mention the two ICA Webmasters who have made quite some efforts to have this service up and running: Manuela Schmidt and Felix Ortag, both from Vienna University of Technology, Austria.

Further publication sources

Finally I would like to mention two more important publication sources.

The biannual newsletter ICA News is edited by Igor Drecki from Auckland University, New Zealand. This publication is strongly committed to ICA-related information, being presented in high-quality in terms of both, content and design. All newsletters can be downloaded for free from the ICA website.

Within the professional magazine GIM International the former Secretary-General David Fairbairn (Newcastle University, UK) is editing and collecting contributions to a one-page ICA column, allowing to address a very prominent number of subscribers with ICA related topics.

At this point I would like to thank both of them, Igor Drecki and David Fairbairn for their efforts.

Publication types at ICC2013

A final word: Related to the upcoming International Cartographic Conference 2013 in Dresden all publication types will be used. A book in the ICA Book Series of selected papers will be published, five special issues of journals will be published (Kartographische Nachrichten, Cartographic Journal, CAGIS, Cartographica, GIM International) and proceedings will be made available via electronic media.

Georg Gartner
President of ICA

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