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Project information

Project team

Jana Moser, Natalia Ipatow / until July 2017: Malte Reißig, Tom Hoyer


Knowledge Media Research Center / Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM), Tübingen

Duration of project

05/2014 – 04/2018

Funded by

Leibniz Competition

Further information

Dr. Jana Moser
Tel: +49 341 600 55-133

Democratisation of Expert Knowledge

The Production and Use of Maps in New Media Worlds

Cartography has been a discipline of experts for a long time. Nowadays everyone is able to produce, use and spread maps because of internet and free software products. Prosumers (consumer + producer) that aren’t professional map makers produce a majority of the maps available on the internet. Against this background the project is concerned with so far scarcely asked questions about the form and handling of maps in the virtual world:

  • Which cartographic languages, characteristics and functions can be found in the maps offered by
  • freely accessible software products like Google Maps, Leaflet, Worldmapper i.a.?
  • In which situations are maps preferably generated, changed or used? When and why do prosumers switch to different means of visualisation or communication (photos, texts, etc.)?
  • What principles can be found for the use of map production tools? Which means are required for the design of guidelines and mapping tool used by non-experts?
  • Which means are required by prosumers to create intuitionally „good“ and „right“ maps with „their“ data?
  • How and to which extent is the handling of maps critical? Which means could contribute to a critical handling of this medium?

The project’s approach is interdisciplinary and user-oriented. In cooperation with Geographers, Cartographers, Communication, Information and Cultural Scientists as well as Cognitive Psychologists it analyses the fundamental change in the relation between science and society that the development of new, digital media entailed. Compared to other new means of communication like blogs and wikis maps are a special and complex medium representing imaginations of our surrounding and the world that has a similar effect as photographs have. Over many decades maps and map-like illustrations served as a visual medium with a potentially exceedingly high information density. Because of their culturally accepted state of mediating the truth maps are powerful instruments of social communication – regardless of who’s their author.

The results of this research are expected to contribute to a further development of the pragmatic resp. social dimension of cartographic theory. In addition tools for mapping and for critical faculties concerning the medium map are to be offered. Another scientific objective lies in new perspectives on processes of exchange of competence between social and scientific modes of knowledge production.


Hoyer, Tom (2020): Raumkonstruktionen im Web 2.0 erkennen, bewerten und reflektieren. Über technische Möglichkeiten und soziale Praktiken im Umgang mit nutzergenerierten Webkarten. Dissertation. Universität Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg-Essen. Faculty of Humanities, Institute for Geography. Online available: urn:nbn:de:hbz:464-20200618-100402-6, last checked on 25.01.2021.

Ipatow, Natalia (2018): Empirische Untersuchung zu Kartenproduktion und Karteninterpretation am Beispiel der Prosumer. Dissertation. Universität Leipzig, Leipzig.

Moser, Jana (2018): Neogeographie - wenn Nicht-Kartographen Karten machen (Editorial). In: KN (Kartographische Nachrichten: Journal of Cartography and Geographic Information) 68 (3), S. 111. DOI: 10.1007/BF03544552.

Moser, Jana (2018): Neogeographie – Über Chancen und Herausforderungen für die kartographische Forschung. In: KN (Kartographische Nachrichten: Journal of Cartography and Geographic Information) 68 (3), S. 113–119. DOI: 10.1007/BF03544553.

Ipatow, Natalia / Harvey, Francis (2017): How do prosumers use graphical variables on webmaps to communicate? In: Proceedings of AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science, Wageningen

Moser, Jana / Koslitz, Sebastian (2016): Pins or Points?—Challenges in Producing Cartographically Appealing Webmaps within an Editorial Environment for LiD Online. In: Gartner, Georg F. / Jobst, Markus / Huang, Haosheng: Progress in Cartography. Springer Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography, S. 83–98

Hoyer, Tom (2016): On the Question of How Web 2.0 Features Support Critical Map Reading. In: GI_Forum 2016, Vol. 1, S. 295-301. DOI: 10.1553/giscience2016_01_s295

Moser, Jana / Ipatow, Natalia / Hoyer, Tom / Harvey, Francis (2015): Interdisciplinary Analysis of Prosumer Map-making: Developing a Critical Understanding of Map-use. In: Proceedings of AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science

Moser, Jana / Ipatow, Natalia / Hoyer, Tom (2015): Good Map – Bad Map. Interdisciplinary analysis of collaborative mapmaking by prosumers. In: Proceedings of ICC 2015, Rio de Janeiro

Ipatow, Natalia (2015): Analytische Identifikation von graphischen Variablen in kartographischen Webanwendungen. „Nutzerstudien in der Geovisualisierung“ DGfK, HCU Hamburg

Software / Tools

Reißig, Malte (2015): Web Experiments: A template based web-service module facilitating the generation, realisation and analyzation of web-based user studies, like e.g. A/B-Testing. Technologically Web-Experiments is Java and JavaScript software bundled as a DeepaMehta 4 plugin. (Source Code)

Reißig, Malte (2016): Leaflet.annotate: A JavaScript extension to the open source web mapping library Leaflet to facilitate semantic annotations of geographic web maps. Transforms Leaflet based web maps into advanced and machine-readable web mapping documents. (Source Code)