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The word “cybercartography” is the combination of two terms: (1) “cyber” (derived from Kubernan – to govern in Greek) which, in contemporary usage, is related to cyberspace loosely associated with computer usage; and (2) “cartography” (derived from Khartes - papyrus in Greek) which is associated with the traditional way of mapping. The term “cybercartography” captures the changing nature of maps and mapmaking intrinsically interconnected to the change of medium.

The term “cybercartography” was coined by D.R.F. Taylor, professor at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), in his key note address during the 18th International Cartographic Conference in Stockholm (Sweden). Cybercartography was defined as “The organization, presentation, analysis and communication of spatially referenced information on a wide variety of topics of interest to society in an interactive, dynamic, multisensory format with the use of multimedia and multimodal interfaces” (Taylor 1997). This concept has expanded through different academic publications and is encapsulated within the production of new innovative atlases such as the Cybercartographic Atlas of Antarctica, the Cybercartographic Atlas of Canada's Trade with the World, and the ‘Living’ Cybercartographic Atlas of Indigenous Artifacts and Knowledge.

Cybercartographic atlases are on-line dynamic, interactive atlases. They are multimedia and multi-sensory and present information in a wide variety of formats in addition to maps. The term “atlas” is used as a metaphor for the representation of both quantitative and qualitative information organized through location and is part of the social computing revolution taking place in the general context of Web 2.0.

Cybercartographic atlases are built using Nunaliit, a Cybercartographic Atlas Framework technology, being developed by the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC). This open-source Atlas Framework enables anyone with access to the Internet connection to create atlas content. As use of the tool does not require advanced technical skill, it allows a community to input information in its own language and in a variety of forms such as voice input, story telling, video, photographs, documents and text. This represents an important advance in open source geospatial software as well as in community mapping. In both theoretical and technological terms it accelerates the change from a supply-driven technological approach in cartography to a demand-driven one which takes into account community defined knowledge and provides the community with new means to express this.

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External links


Taylor, D.R.F. 1997. “Maps and Mapping in the Information Era.” Proceedings, Vol. 1, Swedish Cartographic Society Keynote address to the 18th ICA Conference, edited by L. Ottoson. Stockholm. 1-10.

Taylor, D.R.F. (ed.) 2005. “Cybercartography: Theory and Practice", Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

Taylor, D. R. F. and Caquard, S. (eds.) 2006. Special Issue of Cartographica on Cybercartography, 41(1).