3The Power of the MapEssays on Geography and GIS, Volume 5December 2012
The Power o the Map
By John Calkins, Esri
Maps mean dierent things to dierent people. So what is amap?My denition is simple: a map is an answer to a question.There are three basic kinds o maps that answer three basic typeso questions:
The Location map answers the question, "Where am I?"
The Navigation map answers the question, "How do I getthere?"
The Spatial Relationships map answers the question, "How arethese things related?"It's this third type o map—a map that helps in our understandingo spatial patterns and relationships—where we as GISproessionals spend most o our time. We work hard making our maps. Our maps can be beautiul works o art, but that's not whywe make them. We make them to answer a question, to solve aproblem, and to advance our understanding. And therein lies thepower o the map.Even the best maps have no power by themselves; they just exist,like the maps you hang on your oce wall, or the maps in theworld atlas sitting on your bookshel. But depending on how theyare created, and how they are used, maps can have tremendouspower.For maps to become truly powerul requires two things. First,they need to
tell a story
. Second, they need to be
put inpeople's hands