Image data paradox – on the impact of the development of image-based remote sensing on the maps’ content in the Eastern Bloc. The case of Poland

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Abstract

The authors examine the impact of the development of image-based remote sensing systems on the activities of state administrations in the cartographic production and making of geographical information publicly available in the Eastern Bloc countries. A convergence of cartography, secrecy, and power occurred during the Cold War. Through investigation of facts relevant to the acquisition image data of the Earth surface performed by the USA and the USSR, it aims to examine the key questions of why the logic behind the development of cartography in the Eastern Bloc countries after World War II was distorted. The lack of logic was reflected in the fact that the amount of information actually presented on maps decreased with an increase in the information about the surface of the Earth acquired by the means of remote sensing systems.

It was suggested that image data in the member states of the Eastern Bloc, in spite of their restricted use and a drop in the informational value of maps, was the main factor behind the creation, detail, and geometric accuracy of civilian maps. Proving this thesis involved analyzing the correlations between the achievements in the field of remote sensing and the quality of maps developed during the Cold War in the Eastern Bloc states.

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