Changing the world isn't just about accessing data, but about understanding how we relate to the spaces around us. We need maps. We need geographic literacy. We need to get spatial.
Many of our problems are inherently spatial. We may think we know our neighborhoods, but oftentimes our perceptions of what is happening around us isn't borne out by data. Economic relationships shift, populations move elsewhere, and identities change fast. Our tools must keep up. Geography is crucial.
A map is one of the most effective mediums for presenting numerous layers of information. Like any discursive tool, maps carry arguments about the spaces they represent, but few ordinary citizens read maps this way. Choices of organization, design, and emphasis all tell a certain story. As our access to data grows, so too must our cartographic literacy.
With the increasing availability of open-source cartographic tools, it is easier than ever to tell engaging stories about the world. From mapping tweets to tracking WWII naval activity, journalists, researchers, and nonprofits are better equipped to craft spatial narratives than ever before.
The emergence of new web technologies carries important implications for the ways in which we interact with spaces. Citizens can now reach out to their representatives in as much time as it takes to compose a tweet, but managing these connections oftentimes requires piecing together data in new and creative ways. We need to build new tools, write better code, and with all the geographic data being made on a daily basis, we need to understand space.