The History of GIS

The MIT Technology Review has an interesting piece on a tussle over the history of GIS map-making. At heart, the transparent overlays you see in Yahoo! SmartView. While the article looks for the conflict and the personalities, the section that really interested me talked about the bad uses of maps: the Depression-era “redlining” of areas containing minorities and poor people whom the city planners didn’t want moving outside their suburbs. It’s interesting to think of maps as enabling passive evil (“mauve people are mostly poor, many poor people default on loans, therefore don’t lend to mauve people. Oh, and here’s a map of where mauve people live in your city according to the latest census results”) at the same time it enables so much good (see Wired News for the latest–maps of fat traps for kids).