AFFECTIVE ATLAS – CONSTRUCTING AN ATLAS USING WEB 2.0 AND SOCIAL SOFTWARE
W.E. Cartwright, A. Miles, L Vaughan, J. Yuille
Traditionally, cartographers have produced atlas as ‘composite’ products containing maps, photographs, diagrams and text. They are produced on paper, discrete media and distributed media. They are ‘pre-composed’ or ‘constructed’ products, whereby the cartographer controls all of the atlas content and how it is delivered to the user. It is a predicted product, where the user is only a consumer and has no input into the design or content of the atlas.
Now, with the availability of small, inexpensive, mobile computers and social software via Web2.0 has changed the way in which users access information, including geospatial information. Astute and technology-savvy users now view maps and atlases as self-composed products. They assemble maps from various resources and from different cartographers and providers and build their own maps using Application Programmatic Interface (API) packages. They view maps and atlases as ‘virtual’ digital products, products that do not exist until users assemble them themselves. Atlas publishing has moved from the traditional publishing model to a collaborative publishing model.
Web2.0 presents a new view on what is done when provisioning users with cartographic materials. It is a different way of delivering cartographic media which, in many cases is basically non-cartographic, but delivers information that needs to be spatially defined and controlled if usable geographical information is to be assembled. It is a new publishing genre for cartography where users become part of Web-enabled collaborative publishing consortia. The tools and methods of delivery are different and they need to be explored, appreciated and applied.
For cartography several questions arise:
What do we produce?
Should we still only compose and publish atlases in the conventional manner?
Should we consider collaborating with users to publish atlases as user/producer ‘partnerships’?
This paper reports on the research project that is addressing these questions. The concept of an ‘affective’ atlas has been formulated and its usefulness and effectiveness for better provisioning users with appropriate geospatial resources is being evaluated by a research team at RMIT University, Australia that brings-together researchers from Cartography and Applied Communication. The paper outlines theory being developed about how geospatial information might best be delivered using Web2.0 and social software.