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Semantic Markup for Geographic Web Maps in HTML

In the recent years more and more geographical web maps have been developed and published on the Open Web Platform. Technically this has turned all variants of these maps into documents of the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) making them appear to us naturally as graph-like and semi-structured data. In this dispute with geographical web maps and HTML we draw on the notion of so called “map mashups”. Requiring an alternative model and definition of what such a map is, our research allows us to build and refine supportive technology which helps us in analyzing and interpreting information map makers code into their visualizations. The spectacles we take on to shine light on the current authoring practices behind many geographical web maps are informed by the perspective of a “critical map reader”. A task-oriented conception of “map critique” helped us to deduce a meaningful user perspective from which we specifically call the semantic web community for support on how to represent various information presented in maps from many authors and sources. With this perspective and questions in mind we investigated the Schema.org vocabulary as an ontology to use for turning elements of geographic web maps into textual statements referencing entities in the “outer world”. To illustrate and to make our investigation of the corresponding web standard documents easily applicable for map makers, to open up the discussion, but also to challenge and develop our first conclusions, we implemented them as a minimal extension to the standard API of the LeafletJS open source web mapping library.