Web Cartography, or Putting Things on Top of Other Things
Here is an inconsequential post of what’s on my mind at this moment.
Remember red dot fever? That epidemic was back in the early days of web mapping APIs, when most of what was possible (and what was popular) was to throw a bunch of points on top of Google Maps and the like. Now the web still has plenty of pushpin-clogged maps, but web mapping has come a long way since those early days only a few years ago. Full-fledged thematic mapping, customized base maps, complex interactivity, and more are now possible.
Still, the essence of common web cartography has remained this: stuff on top of other stuff. Specifically, it boils down to base map plus thematic or location data. It’s just better now that we have so much more control over each level of stuff. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing; modern cartography always amounts to the combination of different data sources, albeit with better integration than the separate layers of web mashups.
It seems, though, that the control over each level of the map has now reached the point where there needn’t be a distinction between base map and thematic data. Will the web map of the 2000s go the way of the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things?