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Impacts of the Democratization of Making Maps

Democratization of Maps began in the late 1970s, although some geographers opposed the idea of democratization of maps with a view that it would lead to the demise of cartography. However, the program gained popularity in 2002 when many people joined the race. The color brewer tool was the leading pioneer for many groups such as publishers, car manufacturers, architects, federal agencies, and regional planners (Briney, 2019). Cartographic institutions have been funding mapping technologies and hiring experts to enhance the democratization of maps. Maps have proven to be very useful in many areas such as home, education institutions, administrations, discovery, and exploration.

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With the democratization of maps, geographical information has been dramatically enhanced since geographical experts cannot visit all the places considering the cost associated. With access to map tools, many people worldwide feed data to the geographical system regarding their location, which has expanded the cartography section (Fayock, 2020). With map hacking features where geographical systems are made open-source programs, many people have expanded the technology of mapping, creating individual maps that are helpful to geographers. It has resulted in the creation of maps that are used to enhance the General Positioning System (GPS).

The earliest maps were ground sketches portraying the surrounding area. In places like the Marshall Islands, people used fibers from palms to show wave patterns in the Pacific Ocean. In the arctic, the Inuit used carved pieces of driftwood to portray coastal features (Map – The middle ages, 2021). In Europe, maps were drawn reflecting religious beliefs. The maps were represented with a single round ocean. The ocean was denoted by “O” and the land designated by “T.” The ancient Greeks are considered the co-founders of the scientific cartography. They created the grid system of longitudes and latitudes and calculated the shape and size of the earth based on the sun. The Roman government had less interest in mathematical geography and focused more on provincial administration (Society, 2021). They used the old concept of a disk-shaped world to map their territories and boundaries because of their easiness of comprehending.

With little training, people can contribute to the online geographic database leading to a better understanding of the world. The technology has significantly expanded such that almost everyone has access to a mapping system either through a laptop computer or smartphone. Geographical systems such as Geographic Information System (GIS) are very efficient, and with little training, one can create a map that is helpful in enhancing the online geographic database.

In my daily activities, maps form a fundamental need. When exploring places, I utilize maps to understand various geographical features around my place and get directions to various areas such as motels near camping sites and natural habitats. The current generation of society uses online resources to find information about almost everything, and online maps form an excellent part of information sources. In the past decades, maps were used in specific places such as education and governmental institutions. Finding locations or routes to certain places solely depended on the people familiar with the place or route. Online maps in smartphones form a source of routes and images to familiarize people with places they have never visited. Many people are currently dependent on online maps to accomplish various tasks of their day-to-day activities. Maps have become a valuable tool in planning outdoor events such as hiking and sports like bike racing.


Briney, A. (2019). How did map-making begin? ThoughtCo. Web.

Fayock, C. (2020). Anyone can map! Inspiration and an introduction to the world of mapping. Web.

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Map – The middle ages. (2021). Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.

Society, N. (2021). Map. National geographic society. Web.

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