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.