"Neo"-Geographers -- On the Shoulders of Giants

There has been a lot of chatter on the web lately about the supposed distinction between "Neo" and "Paleo" Geographers.  From where I sit, it seems to be a tempest in a teapot stirred up by a few trash talking web jocks who recently discovered how to do a mashup with someone else's base map.

I don't claim to have enough experience or expertise to call myself a Geographer.  I do know a few Geographers, and I have huge respect for their education and their cartography craft.  To my mind, a Geographer is one who truly understands why the choice of spatial reference is important and doesn't accept that Web Mercator is the best projection for everything just because it is cheap and easy.  A Geographer understands how to ply the subtle craft of cartography to tell a compelling story with a map and doesn't use Yahoo Maps for their base map just because it is convenient.  A Geographer understands how, when, by whom, and for what purpose the data he uses was created so that he can judge whether or not it can appropriately be used in a new context.

The magic of the Internet is that there are a host of new publishing tools available to make the cartographer's art interactive.  Geographers have a whole new medium to work with to tell their stories.  And some of my favorite Geographers have been plying their trade in this new medium very skillfully for many years thank you very much.  In our part of the world, my favorite web cartographers have been Bill Duffy and Tom Lynch from Northern Geomantics.  Both are very skillful cartographers and designers and Tom in particular is a top notch programmer as well.  Tom and Bill are both excellent Geographers and examples of how the best in business can quickly adapt to a new medium.  Northern Geomantics was pumping out kick-butt web-mapping sites long before it became hip to be a chest-pumping "Neo" geographer.

"Neo"?  Please.  "Paleo"? Come on.

How about a little respect for the Geographer giants on whose shoulders we stand?