NACIS, the North American Cartographic Information Society, has an annual meeting where map nerds talk shop and share projects.
The description of presentations from past meetings are all here (select a block of time and the detailed description will show), and they post video of the talks. Some of the presentations are very technical (I developed this command line tool to help make some changes to a geojson file and let me tell you how you can use it), some about process (we are developing maps for outdoor displays at the National Park Service, here are some things we needed to consider), and some about projects that were as much art projects as anything else.
A few talks that I think show the breadth of projects people presented last year (and might be interesting to folks as we start this class) are Aaron Cope (then with the late lamented Mapzen) and Anton Thomas (who hand draws maps of continents) and the lightning talk segment that included both Joel Radunzel talking about what can be read from daily updated maps during a WWI battle and Geraldine Sarmiento’s Morphology project, looking at the shapes of certain things in digital maps, all the railroad lines or all the airports.
This was mostly a group of people who make maps every day, but also who spend a lot of time thinking about how to do so and why to do so in one way or another.