Digital Cartography

Author: 
Ellis, Andrew
Completion Date: 
2009
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Andrew Ellis and Alexander Wang collaborated on this project.

Digital Cartography is a short documentary film on the transition of maps into their digital form. In this film we speak with programmer and mapmaker Jeffrey Warren from the MIT Media Lab and Dietmar Offenhuber from SENSEable City Lab at MIT. We explore the cultural, economic and technical aspects of mapmaking and how they affect the way we communicate with one another.

In our interviews with Jeffrey and Dietmar we learn about the social and geographical ramifications of building maps and how designers can implement their literacy in communication design to explore different avenues for mapping. Participatory mapping such as Open Street Maps and psychogeography and the virtual dérive are some of the themes discussed around the history and future of mapping in the digital age. Jeffrey gives us a demonstration on low cost arial photography using a helium balloon and a consumer digital camera to stitch photos onto Google maps.

Editor's note: Students were asked to respond to the following quote by Lev Manovich from his essay "New Media from Borges to HTML" in The New Media Reader (MIT Press) by choosing one subject and discussing its "new phenomena" since going digital. “Substantially speeding up the execution of an algorithm by implementing this algorithm in software does not just leave things as they are. The basic point of dialectics is that a substantial change in quantity (i.e. in speed of execution in this case) leads to the emergence of qualitatively new phenomena.”

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