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

President’s Blog: Memorandum of understanding with International Hydrographic Organisation renewed

Cartographers apply mapping technologies to map lands. Hydrographers apply mapping technologies to map the seas. It is obvious, that both have a lot in common. It is not only the technologies they are sharing but also the methodologies , the theories and the principles of design, cartographic modeling and media adequate representation techniques.

When looking at famous mariners and explorers like for instance Captain James Cook one can learn, that those mariners have not only managed on how to sail a ship successfully but have also been excellent cartographers. Cook’s maps of the St. Lawrence River System have been used for decades!

It is therefore not a big surprise that the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), the international body of hydrographic offices all over the world being in charge on producing navigational charts and the International Cartographic Association have renewed their memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently. With the friendly support of the new elected president of IHO Captain Robert Ward the signing of the MoU was placed prominently at the opening of the Hydrographic Conference in Monaco 2012. Under personal patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco and the EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki the MoU got a more then appropriate audience.

What is needed most to fill this cooperation with life? I see three major aspects: Hydrographers are eager to understand, if their usage of electronic displays leads to efficient cartographic communication processes. Furthermore, the topics of standardization, portrayal and SDI are of importance to both communities. And finally, both organizations are interested in contributing to capacity building and outreach programs. What’s the point in not having joined efforts in this respect when applicable, like e.g. in a small island where the capacity of mapping and hydrographic offices are restricted anyhow?

I would be most pleased, if ICA can become a home for the cartographers of the sea as well. And I would welcome it very much, if the ICA community comes up with ideas and actions on joined efforts.

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President’s Blog: Gerhard Mercator

Gerhard Mercator

Gerhard Mercator.
Engraving by Frans Hogenberg.

In the year 2012 the world of cartography is celebrating the 500th Birthday of Gerhard Mercator. What Isaac Newton might be for the domain of physics and Charles Darwin for the discipline of biology is Mercator for the domain of Cartography, an outstanding representative who has influenced the discipline in a unique way.

By looking at the life and work of Gerhard Mercator one can argue, that not only his remarkable maps, globes, atlas and projection should be remembered, but also his attitude as person and mapmaker.

Cartographers like to get hold of data sources, validate and cross-check them, aggregate and order the derived information in a useful way and display that information by applying good design with the possibilities contemporary technologies offer. This is what Mercator has done in his times and this is what cartography is aiming to do with nowadays tools as well.

Several activities are taking place in the year 2012 to acknowledge Mercator’s birthday. One of those has taken place just recently close to his birthplace “Rupelmonde” in the Belgian city of Sint-Niklaas. ICA Commission Chair Philippe de Maeyer and his staff from the University of Gent managed to organize a most interesting programme including visits to the worldwide only permanent Mercator-museum and an excellent temporary “Mercator Digitaal” exhibition.

The opportunity to look at artefacts being produced by somebody like Gerhard Mercator can be recommended to all nowadays cartographers and GI scientists as I found it a true inspiration for the acknowledgement of the beauty and the challenges of our discipline.

If you know of further Mercator-related events, feel free to post them in the comments.

President’s Blog: ICA outreach and capacity building

Georg Gartner

Georg Gartner,
ICA President

ICA as an international organization is interested to follow its mission and aims globally. Thus my participation at the GeoTunis 2012 conference in Tunis just recently brought an interesting insight into the lively and active community of cartographers and GI scientists of primarily Arab countries. A Letter of Intent signed with a Minister of the Tunisian Government stated the intention of Tunisia to join ICA as national member again.

Besides a very interesting conference programme, a two-day workshop under the flag of ICA was given on topics of contemporary web mapping. The well received workshop, given by Vice-Chair Markus Jobst of the Commission on Map Production, demonstrated once more the strong interest ICA has in offering outreach and capacity building programmes. In order to synchronize efforts in this respect better, ICA has founded a Working Group, which is entitled to help to coordinate the variety of workshops being offered by commissions of the ICA, including the Commission on Education and Training, the Commission on Maps and the Internet, and the Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies.

While some activities of ICA Commissions are meant as offers for outreach and capacity building some workshops and seminars are meant for commission members and other interested experts to meet and to develop their topics of interest further. Such meetings are taking place literally globally and throughout the whole year. Check out the ICA Calendar, the ICA Commission web pages or the National and Affiliate Member sites to get information on this. Let me mention as example the ICA Commission on Generalization which calls for papers for their workshop in Istanbul in September 2012 or the German Cartographic Society Workshop on Map Creation from User Generated Data, which has the call for paper open now.

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President’s Blog: Website feedback and a map poem

The relaunched website has caused an impressive number of positive reactions, including a note in the “Kartographische Nachrichten”, the Journal of the German Cartographic Society, where the Editor Rolf Harbeck refers to the relaunched ICA website as the probably “richest source for information on the international community of cartography”. He also highlighted the use of modern web technology. The new added LinkedIn – Group option (have a look at the small blue button “in” on the top right part of the ICA website) has helped ICA to reach out in only two weeks time to many who share interest in ICA topics but have not found the right instrument yet to get in contact. Interested? Try it and share it!

Our polish colleague Beata Medynska-Gulij has informed us about the passing away of the polish poet and nobel prize winner for literature (in 1996) Wisława Szymborska in February 2012. The last poem she finished before her death is called “Mapa” (“the map”). I would like to share a draft translation of the first and third part of the poem, done by Agata Ciolkosz-Styk from the Institute of Geodesy and Cartography Warsaw, with you:

 

Wisława Szymborska

Wisława Szymborska, 2009,
photo by Mariusz Kubik

THE MAP

by Wisława Szymborska (2012)

Flat as a table,
On which it is put.
Nothing moves underneath it,
Nothing changes its place.
Above it – my human breath
Does not create vortexes of air
And nothing muddies its pure colours.

I like maps, because they lie.
Because they do not give an access to the virulent truth.
Because generously, with good-natured sense of humor
They spread on a table in front of me the world
Not of this world.

 
 

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President’s Blog: Relaunch of the ICA website

Georg Gartner

Georg Gartner,
ICA President

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the first entry in the new president’s blog of the relaunched website of the International Cartographic Association. Thanks to the efforts of the ICA Webmasters Manuela Schmidt and Felix Ortag this place evolved to be a more contemporary web presence.

This website is meant as a modern tool for getting information about ICA and all its activities as well as allowing for more interactive and dynamic tools reflecting opinions, comments and discussions.  We are all interested in having tools available which support our professional lifes as cartographers and assist us in distributing and linking ideas, results and opinions about maps, cartography and ICA. With this relaunched website we hope to be able to meet these needs.

I would like to invite all of you to stay connected with ICA by taking advantage of the offered options on the website including email-subscription, RSS or Twitter. I am also looking forward to comments and suggestions for developing the website further.

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