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mapuse thumbMap Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation is the 7th edition of a popular cartographic reference for professional and student use. This edition includes a focus upon the interpretation of maps and the information within them. Map accuracy and learning how to read maps is also included. The ability to read and understand what a map is expressing and representing helps to formulate questions, causing readers to wonder, query, imagine, understand and to investigate how and why the map data exists. 


Map Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation 


A. Jon Kimerling, Aileen R. Buckley, Phillip C. Muehrcke, and Juliana O. Muehrcke

Esri Press

ISBN: 978-1-58948-279-1  
610 pages – Published: 2011


Review by Jeff Thurston

This is the seventh edition of Map Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation.  The book includes three parts including Map Reading, Map Analysis and Map Interpretation. The first part discusses basic map reading elements including, for example,  scales, land partitioning,map projections, qualitative thematic maps. The second describes basic analysis used for constructing maps such as distance finding, surface analysis, spatial pattern analysis, GPS and maps as well as area and volume measures. The third part of the book includes interpretation aspects including, interpreting the lithosphere, interpreting the atmosphere and lithosphere, interpreting the human landscape along with maps and reality,

As Jack Dangermond, President at Esri notes in his foreward for this book, “The authors stress that what you eventually view in map form is best seen as the answer to the following question: What would the graphical display show if we made these mapping decisions?”

Today, cartography and map making is experiencing a revolution. Innovations in digital map making, social media use and growing interest to understand a complex world are capturing attention. A rise in amounts and types of data, including spatial information, is creating a rise in cartography as maps provide a means to share, collaborate upon and describe the planet. This book captures this trend and helps readers to understand basic mapping techniques and the purpose of various kinds of maps using examples. 

This book includes details for map making including geodetic aspects, qualitative information, mapping for change, and dynamic information. Measurement of the landscape and representing it accurately through the use of maps is a key point to this work. Multiple displays, multivariate mapping, imagery and image maps, communication, uncertainty, route segmentation, distance relationships and direction finding are also included. I cannot recall a book, until now,ever speaking to the issue of looking for map dates.  And, certainly not one that asks the reader to think about the date of the imagery collection for the map – which was printed at different time. How often do we think of these aspects when using maps? The communication of accuracy for spatial information products is a key consideration and this book discusses metadata for map making. 

Part Two of the book leans toward map analysis. The authors begin by discussing the fact that most map users make a visible calibration or estimation of what a mean is attempting to describe. But they also point out that visual approaches that attempt to quantify landscapes and phenomenon, are often vague, varying and susceptible to personal bias. Indeed, map analysis is more about quantifying results in indentifable and understand terms, in a more standardised fashion.

Marine navigation is also included in this book. A map representing the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers is provided, as are maps of nautical charts used for dead reckoning and current atlas maps. Electronic plotting devices for marine use are also described. At the same time maps are not restricted to land or water, airspace is also investigated and maps of aeronautical charts and navigation are also provided, along with methods for making them. 

GPS is given extensive coverage in this book. Included are descriptions and discussions on basic satellite operation, accuracy for GPS, datums, coordinate systems, databases and a comparison of receiver types. The authors provide basic information for capturing field data using GPS. They also include information about using GPS improperly, issues related to poor data collection and some of the things less experienced GPS users need to consider.

Area and volume calculations and methods are also included. Much of this work stems from imagery and raster data model issues  and helps the reader to understand that scale and area are related when it comes to map making. It is noteworthy that volumes can be calculated from 2D products (flat maps) – if the right information is provided and a suitable data resolution is noted. Surface analysis details include rise-over-run, gradients, aspect, paths, illumination and curvature. Spatial pattern analysis details are also included and readers can learn how the locations of lines, points and arcs play an integral role when it comes to understanding spatial relationships and assoications or patterns.  

Later sections of the book discuss the interpretation of the lithosphere, interpreting the atmosphere – lithosphere and interpreting the human landscape. In principle these sections are the culmination of the earlier pages, aggregating knowledge and learning toward landscape solutions and closer investigations or research. 

In summary, this book has one of the best cartographic – geospatial glossary for any book that I have seen in a long time, and it is up-to-date with modern technologies.  The images in this book are excellent due to their appropriateness to the text, wide ranging types and kinds and their clarity, particularly where fine grained text and charting are included. 

From high-school students to university students to spatial information professionals, this book applies to you. It provides an extensive summary of the technologies and approaches used to generate modern day maps and for creating new cartographic products. It also has a high education value, often explaining the good, bad and ugly when it comes to cartographic production and map making, along with the techbique and methods used.  Map Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation is right on target – it does exactly what the title says.


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