Technology is making it possible to "re-think" how maps are presented. ... It is now possible to restructure the human relationship with maps -- to change how maps are presented and how they are used.
In an effort to improve the effectiveness of "maps on the net" the two sites chosen for evaluation are selling something. Scan/US is a software company selling a simplified GIS which looks at location-related data for geomarket type of analysis. Outrigger Hotels is a hotel chain tantalizing internet surfers to try surfing the waves on warm tropical beaches while enjoying the comforts of home in their hotels.
The home page designed by their internet marketing strategist is informative and simple. The description of the software wets one's appetite for a simple demonstration. Instead, what you get is mostly textual information and a few sample maps. They tout that their software is unlike any other demographic product in that Scan/US gives you useful data, presented so you can make sense of it geographically and mold it to your particular commercial needs. The product integrates data, analysis and maps seamlessly. (hmm - this sounds remarkably similar to your average low end GIS software package). However, without an animated presentation, this marketing strategy does little more than provide an insomniac bed time reading.
Thus, the HCI factor at this site is textual instead of graphic. Since, almost all hyper-link elements are embedded in the document except for the sample maps, it makes the transitions quickly. However, for the advanced user, scrolling through the entire document gives a quick overview of everything instead of just jumping through it.
Graphically, the sample maps shown in the map list are rather well done. One map in particular of Orange County, CA shows one of the program's pop-up windows giving the viewer an opportunity to see how the software is supposed to work. Still, it would have been better to have a small scale run-tim version with a limited data base available to test the "seamless" integration of data, analysis and maps. Unfortunately, the meta-data is not shown on any of the sample maps, so it is difficult to assess whether the color schemes, text sizes and overall map sizes are a product of the software or of the map's creator. Nonetheless, all are well done and depict the quantitative data very well.
Cartographically speaking, it is simply appalling that every map is missing a scale and a north arrow. It is understood that the purpose of this program is to make sense of geographic data and demographic analysis. Thus, it should follow that the inclusion of scale and a north arrow would better facilitate this purpose. In my opinion, the overall internet marketing strategy is only somewhat effective. I'm not sold on this $500 problem solver.
There is no question that these people are all business. They sell the promise of paradise with every snapshot of sunny blue skies. Their home page is graphically elaborate yet quantitatively simple. One can easily navigate to the hotel locations maps, a description of a variety of dining experiences or the hotel rating schedule. Since all the maps are similar in format varying only in scale, the