I have received a lot of input lately...thanks to those who care. I am still enamored with my recent talk title involving the phrase: '...the death knell, yes the death knell, for exclusively paper geologic maps'. But it may have incited some confusion and ire. Please note the intentional insertion of the adjective exclusively. That is a key term here....look it up on Wikipedia (you know, that online resource you dissavow but use all the time).
Maps that are only available in paper form, i.e., Dead Tree Editions (gotta love that one, no?) are of considerably less utility than those that have a viable digital counterpart that can be viewed, analyzed, and widely distributed. Sure, exclusively paper maps are functional, portable, archivable in traditional ways, and fun to hold, but they have a pretty limited application in the 21st century. I stand by that assertion.
That being said, let me enumerate some points:
1. I, yes I, use paper maps in the field. I do not like carrying a computer around at all. Have tried it, don't like it. Hence my enthusiastic endorsement of new digital pen technology that allows for real ink to be applied to real paper only to later be uploaded into a digital form.
The challenge to the modern cartographer is to create aesthetically acceptable analog / dead tree derivatives of digital maps when needed (which, admittedly, is often).
2. I, yes I, love to put paper maps on the wall of my office and garage.
3. I, yes I, have a degree in Geography and Cartography that dates to the days of the freaking Leroy lettering set and very old school ink pen technology.
4. I, yes I, appreciate that some digital maps are inadequately documented in the domain of metadata, but I would like to stress that I have many paper maps that don't come with any metadata or metadata-like data.
I could go on, but you are already tired of me. But wait! I have recently found a post on the OpenGeoData blog (a blog about a digital enterprise that could not be carried out with dead trees) that illustrates some truly novel applications for printed maps. I strongly recommend the links below:
Talk about a hard copy format with obvious potential for science: http://panamap.com/
Here is a map format designed for fools like me who map in the Mohave in the hot season:
Paper maps aren't dead...they just smell funny...especially if you wipe your brow with one while stumbling through the desert.
Dr. Jerque (thats faux French for Jerk...you knew that, right?)