Is the old school paper map dead?

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 19:24
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Hi
Whilst planning my upcoming trip I grabbed a few paper maps I have and started sorting out where I would go. Quite a bit of the info beyond the basic route to take I sourced on this site. One thing I noticed was the reference to digital maps. (I think that is the term used these days). It seems that these days you need more computers , electronic thingos, phones and whatever else in your vehicle just to go on holidays. It takes me half an hour just to type this so maybe I should stick to my maps. I'm not knocking those that can use this new technology, I wish I was more computer savvy. Anyhow I am looking forward to my trip with my box brownie to record the highlights.

Arlo
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Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 19:51

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 19:51
In a word ...... No!
Paper maps will take you everywhere you need to go.

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Follow Up By: Member - Coldee - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:34

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:34
Agree! When the power goes out, or isn't available, the paper map is still there. I still plan on paper.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:52

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:52
Unless its night time...you will need a light ..if that goes out what then:)

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Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:02

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:02
You roll over, & go back to sleep!

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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:15

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:15
If only :) No good for me...do significant percentage of my navigation at night, on foot, head torch, gps + digital map/airphoto - call me crazy but in these circumstances just a paper map + a light (ok.. throw in a glow in the dark compass) and nothing else would be as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike (relatively speaking) - could still do it (sort off ..not as accurately though) but WHY?

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Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 07:59

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 07:59
Don't you just rub 2 sticks together, make a fire and read by firelight? Hmm, a fire and paper maps...I need a spotlight to read anything these days.
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Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:50

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:50
Greg,

I have done plenty of navigating in the dark with nothing but a paper map and a compass. Often with only the light from the moon and often using only the stars to determine direction.

Plenty of others have done the same. That was back in the 70s when we had no digital maps.

My complaint with digital mapping is that it will only show you what you ask it too. I recently discovered new "layers" on the digital mapping we have at work. It is truly amazing the detail that is and has been available if you know how to ask for it.

A paper map gives you all it has right up front. I have made many discoveries looking at dots on paper. I would never have seen Porcupine Creek Gorge if I had been doing my trip planning on a digital map.

That said once I have determined where I am going and what I am going to see along the way digital makes it easy to follow the track.

Duncs
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 21:51

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 21:51
Hi

In the scenario I was referring to (digital map displayed on GPS used to navigate at night) even the most skilled night time, compass bearing, paper navigator would come a distant second. Scenario - 20m wide spaced traverses back and forward across a ~30 ha square area making sure you didn't cross the same path twice if possible..(and marking waypoints as you go for various reasons for an accurate record of observations (~ 5m accuracy achieved) - try that with a "paper map and compass" and be as accurate). I wasn't referring to hiking across some wide area from point A to point B - very much easier.

In my example I am using air photos not maps ..so I can see trees, fencelines ect - much better than even a 25K scale paper "map" in many cases...though I generally have a paper copy so maybe that is irrelevant :)

As I said - WHY...meaning why would you use a less effective method (what you are suggesting) for all scenarios. Wasn't saying it wasn't possible to navigate "at night" with a compass and map - obviously this has been done before many many times.

Also many digital maps are just scans of paper maps - nothing hidden - its just not paper. You are referring to GIS mapping - still digital mapping but a bit more complicated for the uninitiated.

Again - use what combination of navigation aids best suit your requirements and this includes taking into account your level of knowledge on how to use them. The old paper map (even without a compass - e.g. just cruising the tourist routes) is possibly the easiest way for many punters. Crossing over to using digital maps/gps often requires a bit of a learning curve. I think this is more the problem than just the "digital map" itself...and why we get these threads every 6 months or so.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:26

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:26
Hi

This subject has been discussed a few times before. Digital maps (and digital air/sat photos...and I suppose gps units) are not meant as a replacement for paper maps - there will always be paper maps. Digital maps/gps units are just an alternative option that have some significant advantages over just being equipped with a "paper map" (and visa versa). Use what option best suits your requirements at the time. There is no need to limit yourself to one or the other...you are possibly hobbling yourself if you do. If you have a printer you can actually print out a digital map on paper....believe it or not :)

At a guess most people these days use both, though they may favour one or the other . No big deal either way.

Cheers
Greg

PS: Some people still drive Land Rovers and just use parer maps (I assume) Very Retro :)
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:34

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:34
If you have the correct access you can print out or view an up to date aerial view of the country you wish to visit.
No, I didn't but my son did it for me (:-))
And this wasn't just a capital city or large country town.
Cheers
Pop
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:36

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:36
Not in my view.... I like to use both mapping modes. We have some stand-alone paper maps but our main reference these days is books, such as the large format Hema. These are great for effectively planning a general route across are large area - you can see it all at once. Digital mapping with GPS locating would be hard to do without though - knowing exactly where you are on a map is a huge bonus. I'm sure the demand for paper is shrinking though - it's only natural in these 'digital times' - just look where newspapers are going.
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Reply By: Barbera72 - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:39

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 20:39
One of the most exciting things about travelling is to stop the car in the middle on nowhere, get out and spread the map on the bonnet...
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:21

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:21
And then have it get blown away over the cliff :-)
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:03

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:03
A bit of optimism Garry...there might be a sudden and unexpected downpour that drenches the map so it sticks to the bonnet. :-)
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:35

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:35
No way are paper maps dead. We all know how reliable electronic gadgets are. NOT. Especially computers. We also carry a compass in the car.

Phil
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Reply By: Member - john y - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:38

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 21:38
G'day Arlo, I use both digital gismos and paper maps and like you I am not very proficient with new technologies but I still find paper maps much easier to use when planning trips over a wide distance . They are also much more convenient to use when you are involved in planning with a group. Regards john y
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 22:00

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 22:00
Hi Arlo,

Using both gives you the best of both worlds. Paper maps are good for trip planning where you can spread out a map of a state or the whole country to get a good overview. Also good laminated to hang on the wall to show where you have been.

Electronic moving maps that tell you exactly where you are are invaluable while on the road. But they can and do occasionally fail so its best to always carry paper maps covering your route - as a backup.

Cheers,

Val
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Reply By: equinox - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 00:15

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 00:15
Hi Arlo,

Like others have said, there seems to be something special about laying out a large paper map, either on the bonnet, or perhaps over a table when planning or traveling a trip. However I think this is probably just a semi-nostalgic link to ones past, kindling up of memories of times past, when life was simpler, with less gadgets - and a required emphasis of more thought given to ones planned journeys.

I would say that as most of these people pass on, or are unable to travel due to illness or other - that the next generation is unlikely to do this. In a few years we may be able to roll out digital maps on the bonnet. In fifty years some people will reminisce about the good times, when we used to roll out the digital map on the bonnet...etc

I myself took a great deal of time to come to accept digital maps, and the parallel navigation concepts that go with it. I still have all my paper maps, and used to recently say to always carry paper maps as backup - now I am just as likely to carry a spare digital map, eliminating the need for paper map backup.

The real concern for me here is not the media of the map, be it paper or touch screen - but the ease as which the link between the digital map and Global Positioning System makes navigation. Getting to within a few meters of your target is now done with ease - Provided the GPS satellites are operational, remembering of course that you will still be able to read your digital map without satellites, just not navigate digitally. Selective Availability on GPS satellites was only turned off a few years ago - when the U.S. feels defensive, who knows what they might do.

I still have my scale ruler, and used to use it often - however could only ever navigate to within a few hundred meters of my target and I was happy with that at the time. Remember that all the digital maps in the world will not tell you which way north is, or where you are on the map (with GPS disconnected). It is a worry that I see many totally relying on digital mapping when they have not done the basic navigational groundwork. This will end in tragedy for some. I love to follow the GPS arrow, and who doesn't, but you have to have a backup plan when the arrow goes out.

Myself, who only ten years ago could point to north naturally and with ease (in the daytime), now has to think about it instead of just doing it, but I have the experience to back me up - I pity those who do not have this experience and have to guess - wrong decisions could mean disaster.

So paper maps usage will deteriorate, however basic navigation skills for the up and coming tourers and 4WDrivers should be emphasised.

Cheers
Alan


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In whatever comes our way.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 00:41

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 00:41
Hi,

SA was turned off 13 years ago....time flys.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: WBS - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:25

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:25
Back in 1987 when NATMAP was merged with (taken over by) the Australian Survey Office to create AUSLIG and the mapping operation was drastically downgraded, we angry mappers were sat in a room to be counselled as to the "feel good" reasons why this was happening. One of the major reasons given was that the "paper map was dead. In 10 years there won't be paper maps".

I think in the future the paper maps are most likely to be printed on demand (if its not already happening), rather than have costly print runs of 500 maps sitting on shelves in map stores. If you want a map, you order it and it gets printed on a large format colour printer, either at the retailer end or by the producing organisation.

When I left the industry 10 years ago, paper qualities and ink qualities and reliability in wet weather were not good enough but the intention was already very much alive.

I doubt the paper map will disappear.

WBS
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:11

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:11
WBS

I work in an enterprise which before the digital era was a major user of paper. We were one of those types ofplaces nominated to become a paperless office. i Have the good (or bad) fortune to sit reasonably close to the printer and photocopier. The paper use is staggering. There are still people who print out emails and file them in a cabinet!

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the demise of paper maps is premature. As you suggested I agree paper maps printed to ordered will probably become more popular.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 12:16

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 12:16
Christ Al, you better know where you're going pal because I'm not even following the arrow this year!

Long will I remember that stunned look on your face when you retreaved your much loved paper map from our campfire in the Gibson. At least we had the bottom 1/3 left lol.


;-)
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: equinox - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:09

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:09
I still have that map remnant somewhere!!!

Anyway, what are you talking about I was planning on following you :-)


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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:59

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:59
Gawd no good will come of following me mate. Hey lets follow Jaydub instead!


''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Luke F1 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:02

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:02
Digital maps are much safer on the road and especially in city areas as you do not have to pull over or take your eyes off the road to read the map. Each methods have their advantages. Reading the old paper maps is becoming a lost skill. It is great to be able to use both and these days digital maps are a cheap way to go as they cover the entire country in detail. Paper maps are often expensive and get damaged over time.
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Reply By: oldplodder - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:38

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:38
Still use paper maps, print them off my digital maps via my large format printer.
But nothing like getting the compasses out and walking them across the map to do a general check of distances. Route planning software has it's limits.

I can however carry a full set of maps of all scales in my tablet, that would take up too much room in the car.

Drive by GPS, and reference a paper map as we travel.
Never know when the battery is going to be flat, or the GPS break down or loose signal.
Paper maps rip and wear out too, and with a digital copy I can print new ones before we go.
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Reply By: prado 01 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 12:33

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 12:33
I hope paper maps are ok cause thats all weve got for our simpson trip, well only have the maps that come with the parks pass.
cheers
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Reply By: Crackles - Friday, Jun 14, 2013 at 18:04

Friday, Jun 14, 2013 at 18:04
All my planning these days is done on the computer as it's so easy to bring up any map in just a few seconds, click & drag to plan a route using the tools to measure distances. Compared to paper putting a trip together now would take 90% less time.
In the car it's moving map using Ozi on a 7" screen. No need to roll out the topo on the bonnet to see where I am, no torn maps stuck together with sticky tape & no looking for the paper copy as every map I have of the entire country is all on one 32 gig card.
While learning to read paper maps has been very beneficial for my navigation skills, it's very rare I'd refer to paper these days. The exception would be those in guide books or from local tourist info centres where they simply aren't available electronically.
Looking forward to upgrading my mobile mapping to a 10" Android tablet.
Cheers Craig............
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