Nat Geo Maps Show Big Changes Since First Atlas

Michael Fry, writing for National Geographic News:

Mapmaking in the 21st century is, of course, a much different affair than it was in the 1960s. While still laborious and time-intensive, it’s now less manual and more computer-driven. Gone are the days when platoons of specialized cartographers and cartographic staff—designers, researchers, place-name compilers, typographers, draftsmen, editors—marshaled their skills for months or years toward the production of a single map or atlas plate. The first edition required the efforts of no fewer than 39 cartographers, plus additional editorial and production staff. The tenth edition will employ many fewer hands and take far less time to complete.

And the maps themselves? They’re different, too, though not dramatically. National Geographic’s style and editorial policies have evolved over the years, but a National Geographic map in 2013 is unmistakably from the same cartographic gene pool as its mid-century ancestors.

To most atlas users, then, the real differences will be geographic. Indeed, the world we’re mapping in 2013 is a very different place than it was during the Kennedy administration.

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