“Yet his search for the dark, hidden ancestors of modern mapmaking illustrates something simple and true: maps — like technological progress itself — are not inherently benevolent.” The history of GIS is controversial: some argue it emerged from the military during the Cold War, and had dark purposes; others maintain its roots are environmental and planning-based, and focus on its positive legacy. Via O’Reilly Radar.
If the amount of maps, software and hardware available is any indication (see previous entries: 1, 2; the Seattle Area Traffic page has moved since that July 2003 entry), the traffic around Seattle can’t be very good. Now here’s another one: Eric points us to Busview, a Java applet that shows the real-time locations of Seattle city buses. (Related: Copenhagen Commuter Trains in Real Time.)
If you’re interested in social mapping (see previous entry), you shouldn’t miss this AP wire story about the work done by the University of Pennsylvania’s Cartographic Modeling Lab. The focus of the story is their work to correlate childhood obesity with “food opportunities” — corner stores, fast-food restaurants — on the walk to and from school, but other examples of their work are referred to.
Each year, entertainment-industry insurance broker Aon publishes a map that shows the risks faced by filmmakers in various countries around the world — useful if you’re scouting locations and need to get a sense of what trouble may await you (and how much insurance you’ll have to shell out for, naturally). From the site: “The 2005 Risks in Global Filmmaking Map measures crime, corruption, kidnap and ransom, disease and medical care risks, and references terrorism and political risks.” It’s a 2146-KB PDF file. Via Boing Boing.
Nic Jasson writes, “The spectacular failure of the EU Constitution referendum in France (rejected by 55% of voters yesterday) is easy to understand from this interactive map from the French daily Le Monde, showing the yes/no vote in the 100 départements in mainland France and overseas France. Only 17 out of 100 départements approved the EU Constitution, creating this massive unbroken red carpet and leaving only two blue islands: Western France (Brittany) and Paris with its affluent Western suburbs.” (Well, and Lyon, Strasbourg and the Haute-Savoie, plus four of the overseas bits, but that’s being nitpicky.)
Matt Round offers a simple hack for adding Google Maps directions to a web site. Useful if, say, you have a business or institution with a physical presence and you need to provide directions; the user supplies a zip or postal code, Google Maps does the rest. Presumably the destination field could be in lat/long or some other format Google recognizes, but I haven’t tried this yet. Via Matt.
“Taiwan in Maps,” an exhibition of maps from the 15th century to the present, runs through Sept. 18 at the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei, though as the Taipei Times reports, foreign tourists, at whom the exhibition is at least in part targeted, will be disappointed by the lack of English-language information.
As part of its digital archives, the Delaware Public Archives has put online a collection of maps, one of which dates back to 1688. Thanks to Rick Stratton for the link.
The National Archives of Japan’s Digital Gallery has a substantial online collection of old maps, scanned at high resolution. Thanks to peacay for the link.
The BBC recently overhauled the graphics for its weather maps, and that hasn’t gone over very well. Noel Jenkins sent in a link to his take on the affair. Essentially, people are complaining that the BBC has “dumbed down” the graphics, improving clarity at the cost of detail.
Outdoor enthusiasts are united in calling for the return of a synoptic chart showing the Atlantic situation. The BBC seems to have entirely miscalculated the number of weather-literate individuals, but other users make valid remarks too. One poster on the BBC message forum points out the pyschological value of a bright yellow sun symbol. A dyslexic poster invokes the Disability Discrimination Act in highlighting the fact that the 3D tour through the regions moves too fast. The Scottish National Party and others claim that the new oblique view distorts Scotland in favour of the South of the UK. A sizeable number of complaints concern the rendering of England’s “brown and pleasant land”. Geography teachers charged with explaining concepts of air pressure and weather systems feel disenfranchised, and predictably the cry of “dumbing down” permeates the whole message board.
As a general rule, the public is smarter than the media gives it credit for, especially nowadays, when buzzwords like “relevance” and “clarity” bespeak a rush for the lowest common denominator. Can anyone speak to this change?
Microsoft’s response to Google Maps comes in the form of MSN Virtual Earth, which was announced yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference and will debut for real some time this summer. The key feature is the service’s “oblique” perspective — aerial photography from a 45-degree angle — which caused quite a stir at yesterday’s demo. Detailed coverage from John Battelle and Directions magazine; Chandu Thota is part of the team.
Yesterday’s Google Factory Tour (via Kottke) yielded some interesting tidbits about Google’s operations and future plans, including “Google Earth,” a successor to Keyhole (previous entry) that will debut for real in a couple of weeks. Google Earth is mentioned here and here; it apparently integrates with Google’s search and local features.
More immediately, though, we’ve got a (somewhat) clearer answer from Google about what it thinks about all the Google Maps hackery (previous posts ad infinitum). As I (and others) suspected (or hoped), they’re cool with them, at least as much as they can be within the limits of their own licence with the data providers, as O’Reilly’s Marc Hedlund reports:
[T]hey had every intention to not shut them down as long as their licenses permit it, and one of the engineers insinuated that they might be working on a Google Maps API or a similar way to build on top of Maps (he actually said, “to make them not hacks,” by which I think he meant not unauthorized). They also said they hoped that the data licensors would realize that increased traffic benefits them.
Via All Points Blog.
We’ve been able to see maps of recent earthquake activity before (see previous entries: 1, 2), but now there’s a map of forecasted earthquake activity in California over the next 24 hours. From the wire story: “The earthquake forecast maps are created by considering a variety of factors, including monitoring the San Andreas Fault and other active faults in California with seismic instruments. Scientists also factor in any recent history of small and large temblors as well as aftershocks, on those same faults.” Via MAKE: Blog.
Chicagocrime.org presents crime data from publicly available databases for Chicago. In addition to letting you browse by street, district and so forth, it uses Google Maps — what, couldn’t you see that coming? — to plot crimes on a map of Chicago. Via Scott, whose blog entry on this subject is pretty informative.
More hacks of, and news and commentary about, Google Maps:
- Hey Google, Map This! Wired’s Daniel Terdiman covers the various Google Maps hacks out there, some of which we’ve seen before here on The Map Room, some of which we haven’t.
- From that article, two that we haven’t seen before: this one mashes up Google Maps with traffic conditions (with GMaps); this one mashes it up with the Chicago Transit Authority network (with Greasemonkey). (You’ll need Firefox for the latter, and possibly the former.)
- Sex Offenders in Texas by Zip Code, another GMaps-based mashup. “This web site allows you to plot sex offenders on a map by zipcode and then be able to display the offense details by clicking on their names. It uses Google Maps for the map display and the state’s online Sex Offender registries for the offender data. Currently only the State of Texas is accessible, but the plans are to add other states.” Thanks to Chris Miles for this link. See previous entry: Megan’s Law Maps.
- The story that a Google Maps search for “brothel” turns up all sorts of surprising results has been getting lots of play on the Web. Despite the nutty conspiracy theories espoused in the article by some people on the receiving end of such searches — “brothel” returns Abstinence Clearinghouse, Schadenfreude all ’round — ZachsMind’s explanation on MetaFilter is more likely.
- Update: This page mashes up Google Maps with GasBuddy to map locations for cheap gas. Via MAKE: Blog.
A reproduction of the 1911 Baedeker guide for Paris — it’s small, and I’m not a fan of the interface, but it’s neat to see how much of the city has remained unchanged (I see a lot of familiar places). Via Plep.
Nicolas Jasson has put together a page showing an excerpt from an East German map of Berlin, dating from the late 1970s/early 1980s, which showed virtually no detail on the other side of the Berlin Wall — for all intents and purposes, West Berlin did not exist.
Because of the Berlin Wall (here shown in purple) and the impossibility for the East Germans to travel freely, including to the Western sectors of Berlin (West Berlin), it was deemed preferable by the East German authorities not to show at all any detail of West Berlin! What is shown as a desert are of course densely built-up areas, with an equivalent density of streets, totally obliterated here, save for one or two major streets linking with the border crossings.
John Frum is on a mission to collect maps showing political boundaries that never existed — “what I for want of a better word call ‘what if’-maps,” he writes.
For example, the map of Europe drawn up by the Germans during World War I, which shows France divided between Germany and Italy. Or the map by C. Etzel Pearcy showing the 50 U.S. States reduced to a more “practicable” 38 States. Also into this category fall maps of irredentist claims, such as “greater Albania,” “greater Bulgaria,” etc. I find it very difficult to locate such maps.
We’ve covered C. Etzel Pearcy’s 38 States before; the other examples he gives, and others in that vein, comprise what would be a fascinating search effort. I get the impression that John is looking for physical maps rather than links, but let’s see what we can come up with either way.
I was wondering if anyone would know where to get a fairly large wall map of the U.S. that only showed county outlines? I used to have one a long time ago, but I have not been able to find anything since even though I’ve gone to all the expected places, like the USGS sites, NationalAtlas.gov and the on-line map stores. It doesn’t seem like it should be such an exotic thing, but it is impossible to find. I should point out that I want to buy a paper copy, nothing web-based. If anyone has any suggestions I would be very appreciative.
So, any ideas where such a map could be found?
I’m late in relaying this, but B. Moore submitted a link to the Houston Real-Time Traffic Map, and described it thusly:
This is an amazing real time traffic map that is quite sophisticated and useful (at least if you live or drive in Houston). It provides real time traffic conditions, color coded by speed, on Houston’s main freeways and is a must when heading out for the daily commute or trip to the airport. Complete with multiple freeway cams, reports of traffic accidents, construction updates, and travel times. It uses the automatic tollway electronic devices installed in some cars (that let you whiz through toll booths and have the charge automatically billed to you), and sensors in the roadway to time how long it takes an individual car to travel a set distance along the different roadways. Then the system does the math and computes speed. It updates once a minute and is very accurate. You can even get it on some mobile PDAs and maybe cellphones.
An update to the Tags page: instead of the old method of displaying map-related photos from Flickr, which was built from a search-based RSS feed and updated only when the index pages on this site were rebuilt, you can now quickly display sets of photos with a given tag by choosing from a list. This is thanks to a new feature from Flickr, and should work better and be more up to date than the previous method. (Tried doing this in Ajax, but it was beyond me.) Still much more to be done on that page; this is only an incremental improvement.
Worldclocks, by design company This Is It, rotate a polar projection of the world around a 24-hour dial, simultaneously showing the time in dozens of cities at once. The 2001 version is a 48-inch wall clock; the 2002 version is 20 inches in diameter and can be self-supporting or wall mounted. Seriously neat, but I have absolutely no idea whether these are still available. Via Urban Cartography.
Results in the British election are beginning to come in as I write this, and there will likely be a whole bunch of election maps to post over the next couple of days. Right now, though, the Guardian’s interactive election map is awfully good. Hover over each constituency for details. Via Here Be Dragons.
Webmapper considers the ways to toggle between maps and satellite images: with Google Maps it’s just a simple click; they compare that with one of their own projects, as well as Mappy, where “[a] slider widget allows users to change the transparency of the map layer for the aerial photo to appear. The lettering, such as street names, remains visible at all times. All in all, it’s a really neat trick to make the transition between map and imagery more subtle.”
Candia — Creta — Crete, Space and Time, 16th to 18th Century, at Eynard Hall, the National Bank Cultural Foundation, Athens. From the Kathimerini:
Through seven sections, arranged according to theme, the exhibition traces the island’s history through cartographic depictions, up until the time of the Ottoman invasion. Apart from works belonging to the National Bank Cultural Foundation, the exhibition further features items on loan from the Cretan History Museum, Iraklio’s Vikelaia Municipal Library, the Greek Parliament and the private collection of Theodoris and Vassilis Masselos. It will run to November 20 and will then travel to the Cretan History Museum in Iraklio.
Since its launch a little less than three months ago, Google Maps has generated more buzz than any other mapping site since I’ve been paying attention to them. Adding satellite photos only made it worse. That buzz can be measured by the number of web sites that chronicle Google Maps, link to its results, or hack its data. Many of them I’ve already reported on here. But brace yourself: I’ve got a whole bunch more for you.
Blogs: Google Maps Mania is wholly dedicated to all things Google Maps; it’s very broad and very thorough, and I expect to be
stealing links from referring to it often. Several other blogs use Google’s satellite photos: As Good As Being There uses them to illustrate its posts about various landmarks; for Scavengeroogle, the photos are the basis for a scavenger hunt where you guess the location from the photo. Through the Keyhole, on the other hand, is systematically posting satellite photos from each state, one state per week, in alphabetical order (up to Alaska so far).
Links: Being able to link easily and directly to a specific location is one of Google Maps’s strengths. Two sites make use of that, and have built substantial directories of links: Google Globetrotting has more than two thousand user-submitted links; Notes: Interesting Google Satellite Maps is a more traditional list of links to interesting places.
Hacks: In case you missed it in the comments, myGmaps, which launched in March, follows up on a hack that lets you run Google Maps with data from your own server (see previous entry). Cary used the standalone hack to create a New York subway map, as I reported earlier; that project has now been expanded to include Washington, DC and San Jose.
Groups: Naturally, Google Groups has a group for Google Maps.
Pubs: According to The Inquirer’s Paul Hale, Google Maps can’t find any.
Are you sick of Google Maps stuff yet? Let me leave you with one last thought. I mentioned that I was away recently working on a project where only dialup Internet access was available. I was astonished at how slowly the Google Maps satellite photos loaded. Granted, I’ve been on highspeed for a while, but that may simply have been a very slow line. Has anyone else noticed whether Google Maps’s satellite feature is even useable at dialup speeds?
We’ve seen Google Maps posted to Flickr; now, thanks to a little Google Map hackery and the Flickr API, there’s another Google Maps mashup, Geobloggers, which puts geotagged photos on a Google Maps-generated map. All you need to do is add latitude and longitude tags to your photo, plus a tag to let them know it’s there. Surprisingly uncomplicated as a concept; let’s hope the server holds up to the scrutiny from here, the FlickrBlog and Attack of the Show, on which it was featured tonight.
A wind energy atlas maps wind energy potential: it shows the average velocity and power of a given area, which is useful for people or companies interested in setting up wind generators. Here are the Canadian Wind Energy Atlas and the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States, from which I learn that there’s great gusts of wind power available in the Rocky Mountain foothills, but not so much where I live.
Trips123 provides traffic and transit conditions for New York City and the surrounding area. It formally launched April 6, five years behind schedule, and has cost $20 million, half of which came from a federal grant. The New York Times has the details behind the delay (free registration required). Design-wise, and in terms of the maps, it does look a bit dated, even crude; I imagine that it would have been much more spectacular in 1999. Via Urban Cartography.