Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Representation and Its Relationship with Cartographic Visualization

Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Representation and Its Relationship with Cartographic Visualization

Article excerpt


Graphical presentation of information has a long history, and some of the earliest extant graphical presentations were maps. Cartography has had, and continues to have, an important role to play in the graphical presentation of geospatial information, such as that concerning the Earth, its people and environment, and other more abstract information for which geographic location is an important component. Graphical information representation and handling methods, including those defined as `cartographic', are changing. As cartography's role and applications widen (in itself a development worthy of significant attention), we suggest that a) there are new things to represent; b) there are new methods of representation; and c) there is a need for an understanding of these--a new semiotics of cartography. The extended role of the map leads to new challenges for cartography, including further research into representation.

This paper develops a research agenda addressing concerns relevant to such views. After a general introduction, a number of themes, including technology, geospatial data, and map use/users, are related to representation in order to prepare for further discussion on the current state of the art. This section examines the nature of contemporary cartographic representation, the variation in data that can be represented, and the tasks to which representations are applied. Research challenges are then detailed, each related to our assessment of the way in which cartography and its representation types and methods can progress. A summary confirms five broad themes that help to structure the paper and which together delineate the fertile ground for research in the area of cartographic representation: the nature of what kind of data and phenomena are to be represented; the form of representation chosen (e.g., conceptual model, database "representation," perceptual artifact); the purpose for which representation is undertaken and used: the users for (or by) whom representation is undertaken: and the methods and the technologies that enable representation to be accomplished.

Information Modeling

A viable data model of the real world that encapsulates the essence of the phenomena under study is a pre-requisite for the efficient management, use, and communication of geospatial information. Modeling of geospatial data is undertaken to ensure that data are captured, held, managed, and manipulated in a suitable way for applications covering (amongst others) archival, communication, or analytical purposes. In order to handle and view this information, a suitable means of transforming it into recognizable graphical entities is required. Modeling techniques are developing rapidly; but we need to further advance ways of transforming information about the world into models suited to digital and cartographic representations that lead to effective visualization. Such models should ensure fitness for use; should draw on research into the cognitive issues that surround increasingly personalized and flexible possibilities for map use with an expanded range of map forms; should respond to the state of the art in the realm of interfaces; and should drive (and respond to) developments in the field of databases and geocomputation.

Defining Representation and Methods of Representation

It is possible to regard modeling itself as a form of representation, but for this discussion it is assumed to be the data-handling step prior to subsequent representation. Cartographic representation is regarded here as the transformation that takes place when information is depicted in a way that can be perceived, encouraging the senses to exploit the geospatial structure of the portrayal as it is interpreted. Such representation encompasses the totality of the [[Cartography].sup.3] structure developed by MacEachren (1994)--thus, all mappings of geospatial information into perceptible forms. …

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