Why Paper Maps Are Still Produced

Vector One asks why so many paper map products are still produced:

Paper maps are still produced for a number of reasons. The primary reason that this is the case is due to the fact that paper maps are associated with user needs. While communication purposes are high on the list, the production of a paper map relates to the understanding that the user does not have the tools or software to see a digital map, lives in a place where a digital map cannot be delivered, ease of use and sometimes lower total cost of ownership, and appreciation of the craft of map making. Most of these issues are practical in nature. […]
We have not placed enough effort into understanding why hard copy maps are of value, particularly from a cultural and historical perspective, and how we can go about shifting that value into a fully digital framework — not just technically. This is a major impediment toward moving into an all-digital map environment.

Jeff is dead-on when he argues that many in the field have failed to understand why paper maps continue to have value. But I question the assumption that an all-digital environment is, in fact, desirable from an end-user perspective. Sometimes the best technology for a task is an old one.