Abstract: Maps play a unique and important role in our society. Maps are the interface to our geospatial data. They are serious in helping to find our way, in providing insight in patterns and trends, and support decision making. They are fun too, they can be beautiful, and the let use dream about far away and exotic places. The discipline making this possible is cartography.
Cartography is the art, science, and technology of making and using of maps. Scientific and technological developments of the last decades have pushed the options for the creation and use of maps. The internet has spread maps to all corners of our planet, and allows everyone to use maps, on a desktop or mobile device. Everyone seems to be able to create maps, since both data and tools are widely available. However, the design of communicative maps is still an art, but also requires the science of cartography. The need for a strong link between art and science to let us make sense of our complex world will be stressed.
However, the objective of cartographers is to design and create maps that are ’authoritative’, and tell a story. This is a challenge. In the past they were expected to do this job based on scarce data. Today, the problem reversed. No longer they have to work with a data deficit, but with a tremendous surplus, cause by for instance (human) sensors used everywhere to monitor the status of our planet. Instead of filling gaps to present the essence of the message, the essence has to be retrieved and summarized interactively.
In our international community the International Cartographic Association has created an environment where knowledge about maps, cartography and GIScience can be exchanged to make sure the above challenges can be met. It offers its expertise and knowledge of technical developments to other organizations via events, meetings, workshops, and publications. With its Commissions and Working Groups it concentrates it activities on wide range of topics that nearly cover the whole discipline.
A good example of the relevance of cartography are the planned activities of the new working group ’Cartography for Global Geographic Information Management’ which aims to demonstrate how maps can support reaching the new Sustainable Development Goals by showing good cartographic practice, and this links very well to the current International Map Year.
Menno-Jan Kraak (1958) has a Doctors (PhD) degree in Cartography of Delft Technical University (1988). He started to work at Faculty of Geodesy, Delft University of Technology as (senior) lecturer in Cartography in 1983. In 1996 he started at ITC as professor in Geovisual Analytics and Cartography (as of 2010 University of Twente). Currently he is head of ITC’s Geo-Information Processing Department.
He wrote more than 200 publications on cartography and GIS. His most visible publications are books on aspects of cartography: Cartography, visualization of geospatial data (with Ormeling) and published by Routeledge and Guildford Press (translated in 5 languages), Webcartography, developments and prospects (editor with Brown) published by Taylor & Francis, and Exploring Geovisualization (edited with Dykes and MacEachren) published by Elseviers. Recently a new book titled “Mapping time, illustrated by Minard’s map of Napoleon’s invasion into Russia 1812″ was published by ESRI Press.
He is President of the International Cartographic Association for the period 2015-2019. Before he was Vice-President since 2007, National Delegate and has been (co-)chair of the Commission on Visualization and Virtual Environments (1995–2007).