[FoRK] Paper vs Digital maps -- tip of an iceberg?

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Sun May 30 20:22:50 PDT 2010

--- On Sun, 5/30/10, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:

> On May 30, 2010, at 6:11 PM, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
> > --- On Sun, 5/30/10, Marty Halvorson <marty at halvorson.us> wrote:
> >> 
> >> Digital is not always better.  It is however a lot
> >> more convenient than the analog equivalent.  And I
> >> suspect that's the reason for everything becoming digital.
> >> 
> > 
> > Hi Marty,
> > 
> > "Convenient" in what respect? 
> Entire western hemisphere in my pocket.  How much
> storage space would be necessary for the paper equivalent.
> I do agree, actually, with the "display area"
> argument.  It's essentially a special case of the "form
> factor is the application" argument.  Physical
> constraints dictate certain things about how certain tasks
> may be optimally accomplished.
> $0.02,

Thanks Jeff. Make that at least a nickel's worth. ;-) 

Seriously, it's those two observations of yours that prompt my question about working hard to find a balance. That is, let's not toss out the paper maps entirely just because we can fit the entire globe into our smartphones. That does us bugger-all good if we can't actually accomplish some of the things we need to with all that data due to the display limitations.

This ties back somewhat to Asimov's short story linked in Sean's monomaniacal obsessing on the "tool vs crutch" thing: are we becoming/can we become too dependent on technology and, thereby, lose options that might still be quite useful to us? Specifically, in this case, if we toss analog paper maps altogether in favor of digital representations on electronic displays, we no longer give the cartographers a business case to produce them. It doesn't take very long before they simply aren't available. Then we no longer have any option. 

At least not until someone develops real digital paper, e.g. a digital display as large and thin and energy-efficient and easy to read in bright sunlight and high-res and foldable (*not* rollable) as a real map. A digital display that can display all that lovely data we stuffed into our smartphone as well as if it was printed on paper and can still fit in a jacket pocket or purse.

Pretty tall order.

"The form factor/user interface is the application. jb"  Indeed.


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