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Participatory Mapping: New Data, New Cartography by Jean-Christophe Plantin

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2

From GIS to Web Maps

Before describing the stages of map digitization from GIS to Web maps, a look at the various theorizations of maps as communication tools will enable us to depict their properties as mediation. A historical overview of the theories of cartography highlights the dialogue established directly after World War II between cartography theories and the emerging information theories. The work of Arthur Robinson, Jacques Bertin and Abraham Moles exemplifies this inter-disciplinary dialogue. Nevertheless, it is the map communication model (MCM) which best embodies this convergence during the 1970s and 1980s by following the rise and fall of Shannon’s model in communication theories.

Simultaneously, at the end of the 1940s, the computer processing of geographical information started with the birth of GIS technologies. As they became widespread in the 1980s, several criticisms arose questioning their alleged objectivity and their monopoly over maps. The notion of participation was put forward as a solution to these criticisms, resulting in the development of the public participatory GIS (PPGIS) projects in the 1990s. However, it is with the advent of Web-based maps in 2005 that this opening to the public could really take place, which was also followed by limitations and criticisms.

2.1. The origins of a communication approach to maps

Map users have long been “absent” from theorizing about maps, as efforts were focused on the maps’ truthful representation of the areas ...

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