Geographer Hall of Fame – Waldo Tobler
June 19, 2012
One of the things in our culture that makes me sick to my stomach is the celebrity worship. Everyone knows all the personal details and career history of all the top actors, actresses, musicians, models, athletes, and other performers. But, no one knows the top minds in mathematics, science, engineering, medicine, law, the humanities, etc. Same is true of key leaders and thinkers working in government, non-profit and industry. People worship entertainers and ignore the “real” people who are responsible for building the society that facilitates entertainment. To try to do my part to remedy this situation, I’m going to experiment with a series of posts that recognize a few of the greatest minds in Geography. We’ll see how it goes. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment or contact me via Twitter @justinholman.
For my inaugural Geographer Hall of Fame inductee I’ve decided to recognize one of my all-time favorite geographers, Waldo R. Tobler. Dr. Tobler is probably best known for coining what’s known as the First Law of Geography: “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related to each other”. To me, he’s the godfather of analytical cartography, a pioneer in computational geography and a leading contributor in the field of quantitative spatial analysis. I think Tobler’s real genius lies in his creative approach to visualizing spatial data. He’s produced some of the coolest maps of all time (see map of Swiss migration patterns below) using computer hardware and software that were barely up to the task. I can’t imagine what Dr. Tobler might have done with Flash or SVG or Adobe Illustrator if he would have had modern computing tools at his disposal during the peak of his career.
If you’re interested in geography and/or GIS you should learn something about Waldo Tobler and his contribution to the field. If you were a baseball player you would take time to learn something about Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, right? Well, why not do the same in your own field?
Here are a couple of links where you can learn more.
Want to nominate the next Geographer for Hall of Fame induction? Leave a comment below or send me your suggestion via Twitter.