The Internet has redefined how maps are used. No longer restricted to paper, maps are now transmitted almost instantly and delivered to the user in a fraction of the time required to distribute maps on paper. They are viewed in a more timely fashion. Weather maps, for example, are updated continuously throughout the day. Most importantly, maps on the Internet are more interactive. They are accessed through a hyperlinking structure that makes it possible to engage the map user on a higher-level than is possible with a map on paper. Finally, the Internet is making it possible to more easily distribute different kinds of cartographic displays such as animations. The Internet presents the map user with both a faster method of map distribution and different forms of mapping.

Maps are an important source of information from which people form their impressions about places and distributions. Each map is a view of the earth that affects the way we think about the world. Our thoughts about the space in which we live and especially the areas beyond our direct perception are largely influenced by the representations of space that we see through maps, and the way we think about our environment influences the way we act within it. The Internet has already improved the distribution of maps. If done properly, the Internet also has the potential to improve the quality of maps as a form of communication, thereby changing both the mental representations that people have of the world and how people mentally process ideas about spatial relationships.

The Internet has had a profound effect on the process of mapping and map use. The new medium has already led to more interactive forms of mapping and and the increased availability of map animations. But, much work lies ahead in order to make the Internet an effective means of transmitting spatial information in the form of maps.