GEOG 486
Cartography and Visualization




Welcome to Lesson 8! In this lesson, we discuss another key topic in cartography: map generalization. Generalization, or transforming a map’s features (traditionally from large-scale to small-scale) to fit a map’s given scale and purpose, has been increasingly in focus given the proliferation of interactive multi-scale web maps. Such maps are among a new generation of 'fast maps', which include interactive, animated, and viral maps and mapping products. These maps, as well as other products of technological advancements in mapping, including 3D maps and extended reality applications, present new challenges and opportunities for geographers across many fields of interest.

In Lab 8, we break from our focus on mapping in ArcGIS to design an interactive multiscale basemap using the online map design platform Mapbox Studio. To highlight the creative designs possible with such tools, we design this map by taking inspiration from a favorite piece of media/art. Lab 8 thus ties together our discussion of generalization and interactivity with previous discussions of maps for advertising, map symbology, and basemap design.

Learning Outcomes

Lesson 8 Objectives, see text description in link below
Lesson 8 Learning Outcomes
Click for text description of objectives. 

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • describe the differences between content, geometry, and symbology generalization operators and their roles in multi-scale map design;
  • evaluate a map designer’s use of selection and generalization on a map and the logical and ethical implications of these decisions;
  • articulate the merits and challenges associated with designing and using animated and/or interactive maps (vs. static maps);
  • discuss applications of cartography within the domain of Extended Reality (XR) – such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), while recognizing their respective disadvantages;
  • design a custom multi-scale Mapbox basemap in the style of a movie, TV show, or other favorite piece of media and/or art.

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson Roadmap


Assignment Directions
To Read

In addition to reading all of the required materials here on the course website, before you begin working through this lesson, please read the following required readings:

  • Pages 132, 133, 310 & 311 in Cartography.
    Field, Kenneth. 2018. Cartography. Esri Press.

Additional (recommended) readings are clearly noted throughout the lesson and can be pursued as your time and interest allow.

The required reading material is available in the Lesson 8 module.
To Do
  • Submit Lesson 8 Quiz.
  • Complete Lab 8.
  • Contribute to class discussion.
  • Complete Reflective Practice 2.
  • Submit Lesson 8 Quiz.
  • Submit Lab 8.
  • See Discussion Participation for ideas and contribute accordingly.


If you have questions, please feel free to post them to Lesson 8 Discussion Forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.