When I picked “The Map Room” as the name of this blog, it was because I wanted a relatively generic name, and it was in recognition of the fact that many university libraries’ map collections are called map rooms. Such as Oxford University’s Bodleian Library Map Room, which refers to itself throughout as “the Map Room.” I hope I don’t end up like the LiveJournal community Here Be Dragons, which was asked to change its name from “Cartographica” shortly after it started (see previous entry).
Anyway. Apart from their online catalogue, the Bodleian Map Room has a few digital reproductions of old maps (I’m sure they’ll be annoyed if I don’t point to their copyright notice) and a quite good collection of links to map resources. Also via Plep.
If you’re into maps, then you’re also probably the sort of person who, when flying, asks for a window seat and does nothing but stare out the window for the duration of the trip. Though I frequently ask for an aisle seat for medical reasons, that’s me in a nutshell. On takeoffs and landings I’ve tried to identify suburbs and individual streets passing below; I’ve been able to identify towns at night from their patterns and by day from the surrounding landscape (Lloydminster and Gull Lake, Saskatchwean, respectively, if you’re curious).
Gregory Dicum’s Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air is in that vein: it’s sort of a field guide to the North American landscape from the vantage point of cruising altitude. The web site that promotes the book provides some interesting samples. Via Boing Boing.
There’s nothing online but a brief notice and a pamphlet, but at the very least it’s on right now, rather than several years ago: Medieval views of the Cosmos at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, from June 7 to October 30. “This major exhibition on the cartographic traditions of medieval Europe and the Islamic World centres upon a unique 11th-century Arabic treatise, the anonymous Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes.” Via Here Be Dragons.
Via Colby Cosh (link semi-permanent), here’s maproom.org (no relation), from which you can download high-quality scans from old maps and atlases. Seems to be part of a larger project by map enthusiast Nick Wedd; there’s more at maproom.co.uk (also no relation).
(Neither should this site or Wedd’s sites be confused with the Map Room tavern in Chicago. And here I thought I was coming up with a reasonably unused name back in March 2003.)
The Cartographie tribe had an interesting discussion a while back about the Peters projection, which, in its attempt to spread distortion evenly among the continents by distorting at the equator as well as at the poles, is as much political as anything else. The Mercator projection, the alleged Eurocentricity of which the Peters projection is meant to address, is intended to preserve compass directions for navigators; the fact that northern countries appear larger is, I think, clearly a secondary side effect rather than a deliberate expression of European hegemony. Projections have specific uses (think UTM) apart from representation.
Once again I’ve been away from The Map Room for too long: life and other projects have conspired to keep me from posting here, and now I’ve got a rather large backlog of stuff to post. Apologies to those who’ve submitted links; I’ll try to work through them as quickly as I can. Please keep them coming!