Good Cartographers Must Be Hard to Find

April 14, 2010

While I generally don’t like to complain and rant on complaints, in my web-browsing I found myself facing a rather awkward Google Map.
I have know that the GIS data they use can be erroneous at times (often based on census-data, which uses its own created “places” that often don’t correspond to the residents’ or historians’ conception of an area), but this example is rather atrocious in terms of classic cartography.

Namely, note the presence of such cities as Blacksburg & Danville VA, Yonkers NY, Hilo AK, Dothan AL. These may be nice cities (I’ve only been to the first two – they are), but they aren’t the largest or most notable in the world (unless you are a Hokie).
The key is that there is a conspicuous lack of cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, New Orleans, and St. Louis MO. Not to mention Richmond (VA) and San Diego (CA).
Again, much of this appears to be due to the algorithm design – to space out the labels and cities nicely, which from an aesthetic standpoint is nice, but it looks drastically different from an equally scaled map drawn by professional cartographers – again demonstrating that all on the web is not always as it would otherwise seem.

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