Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Programmers' list has been a pleasure to read. Stats' list is growing fast as well. So perhaps there is a place for separate one on this site?

Please share your nuggets of wisdom / humour / inspiration from the world of GIS, cartography and mapping.

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by PolyGeo Jun 4 '15 at 11:21

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

37 Answers 37

NAD83: We're not in Kansas anymore

Does anybody know who coined this quote?

share|improve this answer
"I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more." -Dorothy, "The Wizard of Oz" – R Thiede Oct 10 '11 at 13:35

There's always the Bellman's map:

 He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best--
A perfect and absolute blank!"

The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll.

share|improve this answer

Psychoanalysis is to the subconscious what cartography is to Sahara dunes.

-- Anonnymous --


History is nothing but geography over time, such as geography is nothing but history in space.

-- Élisée Reclus -- (translated from french)

share|improve this answer

"A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams." - Gilbert Grosvenor

share|improve this answer

GIS, ... more than just maps

This came out of pure frustration in a conversation as my non-GIS boss did not truly understand what we do.

share|improve this answer

It's Turtles all the way down

Here's the detailed explanation via Wikkipedia:

Turtles all the way down

It's only tangentially related to cartography and GIS, but it reminds me that I should question my assumptions and be wary of dogma. Plus it makes me think of Discworld.

share|improve this answer

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Jorge Luis Borges, On Exactitude of Science

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.