For most of history, mapmaking has been an incredibly specialized pursuit, the domain of either intrepid explorers or highly skilled cartographers, and the resulting maps were some of society's most important repositories of information. In the 21st century, internet-age services such as Google and Wikipedia have made this system largely obsolete - but that doesn't necessarily mean that mapmaking is dead. In this article from Architecture Boston's Summer 2015 issue, originally titled "Redrawing the Map," William Rankin argues that our age of information has instead sparked a new age of cartography; one that is different, but just as important as what came before.
Given the proliferation of GPS devices and interactive mapping online, it’s easy to declare the traditional map obsolete. Intuitive turn-by-turn directions have replaced road atlases, Google has upgraded the static map with everything from real-time traffic to restaurant reviews, and Wikipedia has taken the place of the hefty geography textbook. Is there any hope for a cartophile? Will the stand-alone map, lovingly produced and custom designed, be only a niche product for rich collectors and Luddites?