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I met with Byron Moldofsky on May 20th, who is the manager of the Cartography office at the university.  He was very helpful in pointing me to people that could help me in my research, as well as giving me his general comments.  He also gave me NPRI maps that his own team had already made, which I thought was a pretty funny coincidence, and my team appreciated them, they are now hanging in our GIS pod 🙂

Fraser Taylor seems to be the person to talk to, as he coined the term “Cybercartography”.  He is a Geography and Environmental professor at Carleton University.  We have touched base through email, and he has pointed me to some of his students who are working around the area of web-mapping accessibility.  One is interested in the policy side of accessibility which will be handy from an Environment Canada point of view.  We shall see what will develop.

I’ll be in Ottawa in June for work, so hopefully I can meet with Fraser and his students then.

As I am about to return some books to the library, I thought I had better document some of the books I’ve gone over for future reference:

Introduction to Thematic Cartography Judith Tyner

Good definition of how thematic mapping differs from other types of maps, and which situations are best used for each type.

Purpose of thematic maps:

  • to provide information on what and perhaps how much occurs at different places, that is, data storage
  • to map the characteristics of a geographic phenomenon to reveal its spatial order and organization

This book also gave me a good description and outline on the process of Generalization in cartography.

  • Selection
  • Simplification
  • Classifying or Grouping
  • Symbolization

…as well as what is taken into consideration when a cartographer is faced with task of generalizing the data:

  • Purpose
  • Scale of Map
  • Readers abilities
  • Cartographer’s Equipment and Skills

Seeing Through Maps Kaiser and Wood

This is a pretty fun read and is a basic overall summary of maps.  It reads more like a workbook, with activities throughout.  I think it would be a good introductory book  for young adults interested in mapping and cartography, but it also worked for me (ha ha).  It has a good theoretical approach, and came across as very motivational concerning the field of mapping.

It hit home how important the purpose of the map is, and how it must constantly be kept in mind through it’s design.

Although a large part of the book was explaining different projections, and didn’t help me much, I found the rest useful.  It is also written with a sense of humour, which always help.

Describing a map:

“As with the truth, the subject of the map seems simple.  But when you try to put it into words, it turns out to be hard.  In fact, the map is not at all what it seems.”

“eyes and maps present selective visions, tailored to our needs.  The needs – the purposes – act as editors or fitters or lenses to let us hone in on what is important at the moment.”

Concerning generalization:

“To create a map is to abstract from the world those factors deemed important, and display them in a forum that allows them to be useful.” a map is rich in data – we want to display info that will be the most impactful to a reader – just as a map does – this all depends on the purpose.

Map Use and Analysis John Campbell

I met with Milton Zysman, Executive Director of SIRI last week.  He introduced me to Nokia Maps 2.0, a GPS application available on Nokia phones.  Although they are maps mostly used for navigation, there is a feature in which location-based data is shown, such as restauraunts in the area.  This could align with the maps we make here at EC.  I asked Milton if I could maybe talk with the developer he has working on the SDK, maybe we’ll have some tips to share with each other…

Accessible Data Visualization with Web Standards

Wilson Miner

This is a good article that showcases accessible charts.  I think some of these techniques can be carried over to our maps, as we are mainly focused on data-drive maps, and not the usual maps you see that are used to give directions.

Google provides an overview of their accessibility solutions.  Specifically for Google Maps, they say they “provide easy-to-use textual directions”.  Basically, it seems that their search is accessible as well as the controls for the map (i.e. zoom, pan).  Yet they do not address the issue of the image.

Check it out here.

A More Accessible Map

Seth Duffey

Finally! I’ve found someone who proposes an actual solution…I was beginning to worry.  Duffey proposes a CSS  map to address users with visual impairment.  The map data is separate from the image and inserted into a tooltip on a link.  Although this technique only addresses blind users, and may not work when using ESRI software, this is a step in the right direction.

Emerging GIS Technology and Accessibility: Online Mapping for Everyone

Christopher J Andrews

Outlines the accessibility problems associated with online mapping, and how various adaptive technologies react to them. Provides some solutions and links to make maps more accessibile.

Follow up: SAP Design Guide, Ohio State University Web Accessibility Center, Seth Duffy

Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet developed for all Canadian federal government websites currently have no guidelines for web-mapping. Possible research topic, proposing Web Mapping clf standards?