The Future of Atlases

Workshop of the ICA Commission on Atlases
September 2024
EuroCarto, Vienna

Registration deadline: 15. August 2024
Cancellation Deadline: 15. August 2024

Contact: Eric Losang:

We would like participants to send us 100 words on their views on the future of atlases in advance, which we would send to all participants as an appetizer before the workshop. (E-Mail:

Duration 3 hours. Working materials will be provided.

What will we talk about

What are the atlases of the future? If every map tells a story, then atlases are the storybooks and picture books of geography. For many of us, they are often just relics from our school days with many us still keeping the copy as a precious memory of times when we dreamed of our own discovery of the world.

By looking into the history of atlases, one can easily identify breaks in atlas manufacturing. These were driven by improving changes in different production parameters such as use and users, media and visualisation techniques or topics that resulted in a steady diversification of the atlas. Most of these developments are still important for the production of atlases, be it printing techniques, compilation procedures or topics. Today, such changes and improvements are being made continuously and at ever shorter intervals, with new factors such as user behaviour, marketing strategies or dwindling card reading capacities setting the stage.

These development lead to some important questions:

  • How will atlases face the challenges of developing visualization models, shift in user demands and changing funding and distributing milieus to name just a few?
  • How do the foundations of atlas concepts need to change or adapt to meet the changing conditions of the future information and knowledge society?

In this workshop we want to rethink atlases and develop new approaches to both atlas production and atlas research – focal points of the Atlas Commission’s work. We believe it’s about recombining content structures, technical developments, geographical information and the reorganisation of knowledge. We would like to approach this by answering the following questions:

  • What will be the elements (or aspects) of an atlas of the future?
  • How will atlases of the future be technically realised?
  • What other aspects need to be taken into account in the future?
  • What research topics need to be focused to scientifically support these points?

In order to have a common basis, the content-related work and discussions will be preceded by a brief impulse from the organisers.

Specific questions are then examined in small working groups, with the results being discussed and prioritised before moving on to a second round of working groups.

Participants are neither expected to be an atlas specialist nor to have ever produced atlases. An interest in cartography and geoinformatics and in research on the future of atlases – however you define this – enthusiasm to think of new concepts and ideas and curiosity about alternative approaches and suggestions are very welcome.

We intend to continue working with the results in future workshops and online events and to take up specific important points to focus the work of the Atlas Commission in the next years.