Monday, May 09, 2011

The Decline of the Paper Road Map

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Mapmaking in Decline:

As a result of public reliance on digital navigation systems, traditional cartography jobs are being downsized, and in many cases eliminated. For example, the California State Automobile Association (CSAA) produced its last paper map of highways in 2008. Since 1909, the had created their own maps and distributed them free to members. A near century later, CSAA had eliminated their cartography team and produce maps only through the AAA national headquarters in Florida. For organizations like the CSAA, mapmaking is now seen as an unnecessary expense. Although the CSAA is no longer investing in traditional cartography, they realize the importance of providing paper maps, and will continue to do so. According to their spokesperson Jenny Mack, “free maps are one of our most popular member benefits”.

Some Downsides:

A downside to the outsourcing of cartographic skill is the lack of regional knowledge. In the case of the CSAA, their original cartographic team personally surveyed local roads and intersections. The accuracy of survey and cartography from thousands of miles away is questionable. In fact, studies show that paper maps are more accurate than GPS navigation systems. In an experiment done at the University of Tokyo, participants traveled on foot using either a paper map or GPS device. Those using the GPS paused frequently, traveled greater distances, and took longer to get to their destination. Paper map users were more successful.

While digital maps are helpful in getting from "Point A" to "Point B," they lack topographic details and cultural landmarks, among other details. Paper maps show “the big picture”, whereas navigation systems only show direct routes and immediate surroundings. These shortages can lead to geographic illiteracy and dissipate our sense of direction.

~ What is the Future of Paper Maps?

More map information here: "What is a Map?"

Free Blank Outline Printable World Maps of the Countries and Continents of the World

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Oh, brother. Well, another sign of "progress". :( I love paper maps.

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