Education and Training

Innovative methods in education

6211.2 - Linkages that Built Modern Cartography: A Citation and Contents Analysis of Elements of Cartography

Thursday, July 6
10:50 AM - 11:10 AM
Location: Hoover

Textbooks, in particular entry-level textbooks, assist in codifying disciplines. They become points of consensus expressing discipline contents and boundaries. Textbooks are not core to scientific activity and discipline advancement but instead communicate about developments and stabilize foundational discipline content by presenting established knowledge.
For nearly 50 years, the 6 editions of Arthur Robinson’s Elements of Cartography codified the field of cartography, selectively emphasizing and recording advances and changes, although with a temporal lag of 7 to 9 years because of book production cycles. In creating the text, Robinson established the discipline to incorporate mechanical aspects of map production such as drafting and hand lettering and at the same time insured the inclusion of elements he deemed important to the nascent discipline such as design, deliberate use of symbols, data processing, and statistical methods. As technologies changed or became more readily available (aerial photography, color printing, computer processing, remote sensing) they were included in the text and thus were located inside the discipline’s boundaries. Prior to Robinson’s work, cartography relied on artful methods to convey data. Robinson’s work and textbooks moved the discipline towards research and intentionally designed data displays and to a consideration of the theory of the map communication model. Through textbook authorship, Robinson’s vision of thematic cartography as a method to portray scientific data became encoded as the core of academic cartography in the United States.
The 6 editions spanned 3 different periods in United States academic cartography, post-war building, program growth and integrated curricula (McMaster and McMaster, 2002), as well as a period of immense technological change. The works have previously been examined by Wolter (1975) and Tyner (2005) primarily through the lens of table of contents but have never been discussed in the surrounding contexts of industry and government or other contemporary and contributing writings. Citation analysis and mapping can be used to create a new perspective, in conjunction with a chronological scan of technological advances, on the development of academic cartography in the United States. A SQL database was developed and populated with 10,406 citations to 4,644 unique titles on 386 topics cited by 49 English-language textbooks published between 1908 and 2010. The titles cited by Robinson, included in the database, increased from 83 in 1953 to 413 in 1995 with the numbers swelling precipitously as additional authors were added to the title page. They produce a web of citations that entwines the texts across decades and authors, a web that should be interpreted in the context of technological, organizational, and disciplinary change. The differing expertise and interests of added co-authors also drove the selection of cited titles. The web highlights commonalities across all 6 editions as well as points of divergence, at times converging on titles, perhaps exposing them as core readings in cartography, as well as displaying a pattern of outliers, rarely-cited texts. Topics, authors, and sources wax and wane. Examining citation patterns and modifications in content order illuminates changes in subject priorities for Robinson and his co-authors and documents both transformations in and codifications of academic cartography.

McMaster and McMaster (2002). A history of twentieth-century American academic cartography. Cartography and Geographic Information Science.
Wolter (1975). The Emerging Discipline of Cartography.
Tyner (2005). Elements of Cartography: tracing fifty years of academic cartography. Cartographic Perspectives.

Jenny Marie Johnson

Map and Geography Librarian and Associate Professor of Library Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jenny Marie Johnson is Map and Geography Librarian and Associate Professor of Library Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has previously served as map and geography librarian at the University of Washington and Clark University. Besides cartography textbooks, Jenny is interested in the early 20th century Good Roads Movement.

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Anthony C. Robinson

Assistant Professor of Geography
The Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Anthony Robinson is Assistant Professor, Director for Online Geospatial Education programs, and Assistant Director for the GeoVISTA research center in the Department of Geography at Penn State University. Dr. Robinson's research focuses on the science of interface and interaction design for geographic visualization systems. He currently serves as the Chair of the Commission on Visual Analytics for the International Cartographic Association. In support of geospatial education, Robinson directs Penn State’s Online Geospatial Education efforts.

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