Contemporary Cartographer?

After reading an article from Crain’s “The next hot job: Cartographer” I starting thinking about my background and how it ultimately lead me to mapping. I have struggled with calling myself a cartographer for a while because of my none-traditional background, until the other day. It seems I am not alone in what they consider “contemporary cartography”.  After looking back at my final Landscape Architecture project, I came to realize just how close Cartography and Landscape Architecture are in their most basic forms—representing data, designs, ideas, and issues in a visual form. This is at the heart of what Cartographers and Landscape Architects do.

I realized that elements found in most landscape Master Plans are just diagrams that help the user envision features in a geographic space. Could these be considered maps? What is a map? By definition a map is “a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc.” Let’s take a planting plan of a city park for example. It is a diagrammatic representation of an area where certain data “plants” are spatially located. We are starting to see cases where people are pushing the ideas of what a map actually is and I think having a non-traditional and diverse background is what has sparked innovation in “contemporary cartography” that the article speaks of. I am excited about the future of cartography in the fact that companies like Carto and Mapbox are providing the tools necessary for easily accessible mapping.

So it looks like I can attribute my excitement and interest in mapping to my Landscape Architecture training, because at the end of the day I am still helping people visualize things that are not easily understood with words and can only be seen in diagrammatic representations!

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