Does the Future Belong to the Mapmakers?

By Zachary Alexander on

Traditionally, mapmakers have been mythologized as pioneers and facilitators of international trade. This process continued until the 1890’s in the United States when the Census Bureau announced the “end of the frontier.” For those tasked with supporting sustainability, you and your peers may want to consider the words of Brian McClendon, Vice President for Engineering at Google.

There is a vast and growing community of online mapmakers creating useful, accessible maps of lesser-known areas—and transforming people’s lives in the process.

Back in the 1990’s, early adopters use to say, “the Internet changes everything.” Now, it seems that not a month goes by that some amateur developed innovation doesn’t push back the frontiers, which catches the so-called gurus off guard. Given the level of techno economic change, most would agree that this is an all hands on deck moment in time for all those who are concerned about ending America’s long decline.

Those tasked with supporting sustainability should consider this the new normal. Enthusiasts like these amateur cartographers will produce the next generation of business innovation. The Maker Movement will become the major source of high growth entrepreneurial companies not venture capitalist or angle investors because of crowdfunding and the low cost of building micro businesses.

Neoliberalism, which is the dominate philosophy in economic development circles, is not equipped to handle this new landscape. The reason is that Neoliberalism assumes that innovation can only be unleashed via market forces. The challenge to this widely accepted philosophy is the fact that the Internet changes everything and new things get done based on the passions of online community members.

The emerging Post-Globalism School Thought provides an opportunity to create a new economic philosophy from scratch based on the Maker Movement and desktop manufacturing. A case could be made that describing Post-Globalism is a form of mapmaking and will lead to new techno economic frontiers. Additionally, this is how America can out run, out work, and out innovate its transnational competition.

Zachary Alexander

McClendon, B. Cartography’s New Golden Age Project Syndicate