Cartographers’ Stories

Daniel Huffman and John Nelson have launched A Cartographer’s Story, a website that collects personal essays from mapmakers.

While our community has a rich culture of sharing project walkthroughs and clever tricks, our colleagues also need to hear about the personal and emotional relationships we have with our maps. We invest ourselves in creating works that are meant to stir the hearts and imaginations of others—and in return our works invest in us. What are your stories? How has mapping moved you or changed you? Did it encourage you through a tough time? Teach you something about yourself? Represent a significant relationship in your life?

Seven stories posted so far; they’re looking for more.

OSM Then and Now

OSM Then and Now (screenshot)

Martijn van Exel’s OSM Then and Now compares OpenStreetMap as it was in October 2007 with how it is today, with a slider to change how much you see of one or the other. Amazing how little was mapped back then, especially outside: my own town didn’t appear at all, and even Ottawa was rudimentary.

Manitoba: 100,000 Lakes, 90,000 Still to Be Named

There are about 100,000 lakes of any size in Manitoba, according to a provincial survey from the 1970s. About 10,000 have been named to date; so there’s 90,000 to go.

Here’s a long read from the Winnipeg Free Press on the work of Manitoba’s provincial toponymist, Des Kappel, who’s responsible for naming geographical features in my home province. With a substantial bit on the province’s commemorative project naming features after Manitoba’s casualties in the First and Second World Wars, and the unusual exception made for a living NHL hockey player. [WMS]

Mapping Safe Washrooms

In response to measures like North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which restricts access to public washrooms by transgender people, crowdsourced online maps of safe washrooms—places with unisex or gender-neutral washrooms, or that let transgender people use the washroom that matches their gender identity—have been created: Refuge Restrooms has both a list and a map view; Safe Bathrooms uses Google My Maps. These maps seem like the modern-day equivalent of The Negro Motorist Green Book for trans people. [WMS]

The Maps Cartographers Made as Kids

Maps made by children are interesting enough; maps made by children who went on to be professional cartographers—that’s something else altogether, as All Over the Map’s Betsy Mason shows. Because you know they all did that, when they were kids. (And no, before you ask, I don’t think any of my childhood cartography still survives.)

Previously: Children Map the World: The BookChildren Map the World, Volume Two19th-Century Children’s Maps.

More Detailed Maps of Greenland Coming Soon

The Arctic Journal reports on recent efforts to produce more detailed, systematic and accurate maps of Greenland.

Danish officials today announced promising initial results of a project using satellites to collect cartographic data faster and more efficiently than has been possible using aeroplanes.

The project involved using SPOT 6 and 7, two commercially operated European satellites, flying at an altitude of 700km to collect images of four specific areas […]. The pictures they returned over a two-year period beginning in 2015 each measure 360 square km. Objects as small as 1.5 m can be discerned in the pictures, making them detailed enough to be used to make precise, high-resolution maps.

Cartographers are now in the process of turning the data into finished, on-line maps. The maps themselves are expected to publicly available by autumn. But, even before that, the data gathered by the satellites will be placed on-line.

[WMS]

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps “is an exhibit presented by the Birmingham Public Library in celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial. The Library’s Southern History Department has carefully selected over 50 maps from our world class collection to tell the story of Alabama. The maps in this exhibit represent 450 years of exploration, expansion, and development.” It opens Wednesday and runs through the end of April; there’s also an online versionAlabama Newscenter. [Tony Campbell]

Post-Brexit EU Map Shows Independent Scotland

XYZ Maps

A new post-Brexit map of the European Union shows Scotland as an EU member separate and independent from a rump “United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” which is coloured like other non-EU members. Commissioned by Interkart and produced by XYZ Maps, the 119 × 84 cm wall map costs £24/40€. Interkart, XYZ Maps. [WMS]

Telling the Map

Christopher Rowe’s short story “Another Word for Map Is Faith,” which imagines an alternate America ruled by a theocracy that treats maps as infallible, and territory to be corrected to conform to the map, was the first speculative fiction story I encountered in which maps were a central role. (I soon found other examples.) It appeared in the August 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which hasn’t made it easy to track down. But it’ll be included, along with nine other stories, in Rowe’s upcoming short story collection, Telling the Map, which comes out from Small Beer Press in July 2017. Check out that entirely appropriate cover: as Rowe notes, “[t]he concept for the cover originated with Gwenda Bond, who was inspired by the maps of Pauline Baynes.”

Previously: Another Word for Map Is Faith.

xkcd’s Time Zone Map

Randall Munroe, “Bad Map Projection: Time Zones,” 15 February 2017. xkcd.

Randall Munroe is a bad man who is back with another bad map projection to make our eyes bleed. (If he does this often enough he’ll have enough for a book. Heaven forfend.) This one is, like his other maps, fiendishly subtle: it stretches and compresses countries to fit where their time zones ought to be, longitudinally speaking.

Mapping the Past

Another book I missed at the time of its publication: Charles Drazen’s Mapping the Past: A Search for Five Brothers at the Edge of Empire (William Henemann, August 2016). It’s a family history: Drazin’s grandfather and brothers were military surveyors from rural Ireland “who travelled around the world as officers in the Royal Engineer Corps—surveying, exploring, mapmaking, fighting— in the twilight years of the British Empire.” [WMS]

Where Disaster Strikes

Where Disaster Strikes: Modern Space and the Visualization of Destruction, an exhibition of disaster maps, is taking place now until 19 April at Harvard’s Pusey Library.

Floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, bombings, droughts, and even alien invasions: disaster can take many forms. And, although disasters are always felt dramatically, a disaster’s form and location impacts who records its effects and what forms those records take. “Where Disaster Strikes” investigates the intertwined categories of modern space and disaster through the Harvard Map Collection’s maps of large destructive events from the London Fire to the present.

Open to the public. The exhibition also has a substantial online presence.