Posted in New thinking, Opinion

Can maps do a better job in our back-yard?

If the technology exists to instantly light up our phones when our village has been hit in the game “Clash of Clans” surely we can work to do the same when our land/water/air is being impacted in real-life.

With the many technical advances these days maybe we need to set aside or identify tracts of land where we research ideal mapping practices — maps that readily and fully inform and seamlessly engage us, citizens.

Sure, Google has made mapping strides with easy access to street view, traffic assists, and feature identification. Many of us use these maps. ESRI lets us, not as easily, mash databases and tell stories to create personalized maps. Fewer of us use these maps. I suggest, however, that maps can reflect a larger part of our DNA when they subsume social-media/market value. We need to explore the real market potential for interactive, immersive, and adaptive maps.
As I have been south this season and have read many of Bob  Maher’s blogs I have been pondering as to WHO, these days, most interacts with the natural landscape and HOW we interact with it, and of the role of maps. Seeing forest clear-cuts first-hand, for example, contrasts drastically with viewing them on a screen, days/weeks/months later. If we could better connect maps with our daily lives we could find greater transparency of forestry and other practices or issues.
If game developers can market and make b/millions with “what if” scenarios and if we can be tweeted, poked and notified instantly then surely we can create maps to do do the same for us citizens. Can we improve maps by better connecting them via social media network for all stakeholders and citizens?
Maybe, Bob and Heather who live in Paradise, Nova Scotia would not have had to discover, with surprise, that their “back-yard” had been violated with forest clear-cuts.


Each day brings us something new to discover and enjoy. For me, it could be a clever story told, a watercolour painting, a scientific breakthrough, a line of computer code, some cool Latin jazz, a shared recipe, an eagle putt or a special smile. My goal is to interpret our rural and urban landscapes through watercolour eyes -- with a splash of ink and a dash of mixed media. I love the left-brain-right-brain dance of watercolour as it mixes with some control yet yields some surprising results, and I savour the spontaneity of plein air art.

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