NACIS 2015 (Minneapolis, MN)

Olsson_AbysmalIn October 2015 I attended the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) Annual Meeting (#NACIS2015) in held at the historic Renaissance Depot in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was my first time attending this event. I presented a paper to the “Theoretical Frontiers” session on Friday, October 16 in which I offered a brief overview of the recondite philosophy of Swedish geographer Gunnar Olsson. My paper is entitled “You Are Here: See What You Think.” You can read it here. I appreciate everyone who attended this session which also included interesting presentations from George F. McCleary, Jr. (University of Kansas) on psychophysical interactions with cartographic elements and Mark Denil (U.S. National Ice Center) who challenged the notion that maps tell stories by making the case that narratives are an emergent cartographic phenomenon and entail a viewer to be fully realized.

I attended the “History and Theory of Cartography.” This session began with an engaging survey of 3D usage in cartography by Kenneth Field (ESRI), a behind-the-scenes look from Mark Monmonier (Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University) of How To Lie With Maps fame who served as editor of the much anticipated addition to the History of Cartography project, Volume 6: Cartography in the Twentieth Century. Monmonier has also written and self-published a new book, Adventures in Academic Cartography: A Memoir. The session wrapped up with an entertaining and wide ranging review of cartographic curiosities by Leo Dillon (U.S. Department of State).

I also attended the “Cartographic Perspectives Special Session — Cartography in the Classroom: A Changing Landscape” gathering in which Fritz Kessler (Senior Research Associate, Penn State) guided a panel of four collegiate educators in a discussion about strategies and challenges pertaining to teaching geospatial topics. GIS remains the predominant methodology for college level geospatial learning, but some in attendance challenged whether the panel on whether this was sufficient to provide students with cartographic competency.

I also enjoyed the “Art in Cartography” session that ambitiously slated four different presentations into a single session that began with an overview from Judith Tyner (California State University, Long Beach) on contributions by American women involved in the creation of pictorial cartography. Nicholas Bauch (Stanford University) shared the amazing story of the early twentieth-century expedition of Francois Matthes that produced “the first detailed topographical drawing of the Grand Canyon, using plane table technology.” This was followed by Nick Lally (University of Wisconsin-Madison) who explored the intersection of aesthetics and cartography using “Rancière’s concept of the ‘distribution of the sensible’…to describe how art changes what we are able to perceive.” DKB Hoover (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) wrapped up the session with numerous examples of working artists who integrate cartographic artifacts into their creations.

This was a well organized conference in a beautiful venue that concluded with a top notch banquet catered by the Renaissance Depot. I look forward to next year’s gathering in Colorado Springs, Colorado.