|About the Mapping Bulletin|
|By Jim Lacy|
Published by the State Cartographer’s Office since January of 1975, the Mapping Bulletin is Wisconsin's longest-running source of mapping-related news, events, and information. For more than 30 years, we've worked hard to provide accurate and unbiased information to mapping professionals working in Wisconsin.
The Bulletin started in 1975 as a simple, two-page newsletter under the watchful eye of former State Cartographer Art Ziegler. After only two years, nearly 700 people from around the state and beyond were receiving the free, quarterly publication. Many of our early stories focused on the availability of aerial photography, updates on topographic mapping, and a wide range of other informational tidbits related to mapping in Wisconsin.
As the office evolved, so did the Bulletin. Editor Christine Reinhard helped the newsletter quickly grow from a simple two-sided format into an 8-10 page publication by the late 1970’s. The depth and breadth of the content changed as well, especially as the industry evolved and Geographic Information Systems came onto the scene. Much space was devoted to land records modernization in the late 1980’s, along with news from a fledgling organization called the Wisconsin Land Information Association.
Changing with the times
By the early 1990’s, our mailing list had grown to over a thousand subscribers, including a surprising number of international readers from places such as Poland, Turkey, Lebanon, and South Africa to name a few. After many format changes over the years, and eventually the introduction of PC-based desktop publishing, we settled into a more consistent 16-page format in 1992 under the guidance of former Editor Bob Gurda, and desktop publishing wiz Brenda Hemstead.
In 1994 the SCO implemented an electronic Bulletin Board System (BBS) that allowed users to literally dial-in, one at a time, at the blazing speed of 14.4 kilobits per second (that’s bits, not bytes!) Although the Bulletin was still printed and mailed to our readers during this time, the BBS turned out to be the first of many significant changes to the way the SCO delivers information.
Welcome to the World Wide Web
Everything changed in the mid-90’s with the introduction and widespread use of the Web. By 1996, many of our Bulletin articles referenced mapping and GIS-related resources popping up all over the Web. The BBS was eventually decommissioned in December of 1996, and our new Web site took over as our primary online information delivery tool.
Thanks to the Web, we had a new way to deliver the Bulletin. Subscribers could still opt to receive a printed copy in the mail, but starting in 1997, we also made issues available as a downloadable PDF document from our Web site. This dual-mode of delivery survived for roughly six more years.
Budget cuts and growing printing and mailing costs forced the SCO to make the difficult decision in 2003 to discontinue the printed publication. From that point forward, the Bulletin became an entirely web-based newsletter, but published 5-6 times per year. Subscribers had the option to receive an e-mail reminder each time we published a new online issue of the Bulletin.
In 2007, recognizing that the way our audience consumes information has evolved considerable since the introduction of the Web, we dropped the periodical format used by the Bulletin for over 30 years. Instead we now continually publish news online, “as it happens.” Readers now have multiple delivery options; they can visit our site at their leisure, receive real-time updates delivered to their news-reader software via Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, or by signing up for weekly e-mail "alerts."
I often wonder what Art Ziegler would say if he could see how the SCO’s mainstay publication has evolved from his simple newsletter in 1975. The web continues to evolve at an astonishing rate, and it wasn’t all that long ago that nobody had heard of things like RSS, podcasts, and blogs. What does the future hold for the Bulletin? Who knows!
Although the people behind the scenes, the state of our industry, and our methods of delivery have changed considerably, one thing remains the same: we want to be your definitive source for Wisconsin geospatial news and information.
|Last Updated on September 12, 2011|