BibliOdyssey points to an exhibition of antique maps of the Champagne-Ardenne region of France: Terres de Champagne-Ardenne: Cinq siècles de cartographie (in French, naturally). The exhibition is touring various library locations in that region; the online version’s a bit complicated to navigate, but it does have a number of scans (using that Zoomify thing).
A dramatic and effective animated Flash map that illustrates casualties suffered by coalition forces in Iraq over time: “The animation runs at ten frames per second — one frame for each day — and a single black dot indicates the geographic location that a coalition military fatality occurred. Each dot starts as a white flash and a larger red dot which fades to black over the span of 30 frames/days, and then slowly fades to grey over the span of the entire war.” Via Boing Boing.
Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS
by John Krygier and Denis Wood
Guilford Press, 2005. Softcover, 303 pp. ISBN 1-59385-200-2
Although Making Maps is aimed at a GIS audience (just look at that subtitle), this is not a book about GIS. (But it’s certainly for GIS.) Nor is it limited to the GIS pros. Rather, it’s a book that lives up to its title in the broadest sense: it’s about making maps not in the technical sense, but in the conceptual sense. As such, it’s applicable to everyone with an interest in mapmaking, regardless of their professional level or the software they use to make their maps. Even people who make maps with pen and ink — which is, I suppose, how we all started, pros and hobbyists alike — will learn a great deal from this book.
Making Maps is a profoundly visual book. In a way, it’s all illustrations and sidebars and captions, with very little text in any kind of linear narrative. Its chapters outline the choices that a mapmaker must make when creating a map: technical choices like projection and scale; more artistic choices like colour — with, of course, numerous examples. When representing data (for example, showing poverty rates by geographic area), the authors discuss the use of colour and hue. The map’s purpose also determines how it’s simplified — no map can include every detail, so what detail do you include, what do you exclude, and what do you highlight? Two maps of the same area with different purposes will look very different.
Krygier and Wood take us through these choices, but they also point out why some choices are better for some purposes than others. They don’t say, for example, that Mercator is a better projection than Robinson (or vice versa), but that each is best for a certain purpose. It’s a very practical book, all the more because it doesn’t sit on the fence.
Making Maps is both accessible and useful: everyone with an interest in maps will be able to take something away from it. But it’s also tremendously enjoyable reading. Highly recommended.
I received a review copy of this book. More on my book review policy.
See previous entry: Book Review Roundup.
I love looking at aeronautical charts even if I have no idea what to do with them; I just think all the detail is neat. So it’s no surprise that I’ve been enjoying playing with the aeronautical charts collected online at Skyvector.com, which wraps them in a very usable AJAX interface that is reminiscent of Google Maps without simply being a Google Maps mashup: it scrolls and zooms fluidly. It uses real scans of paper maps; you can tell because sometimes you see the legends, etc., at the edges when you scroll.
Stephen Huffman’s World Language Phyla/Family Mapping page hosts a collection of very large PDFs that show language phyla at the global level and language families at the regional/continental level. The maps are really good, but if you use OS X’s Preview to open PDFs, use Acrobat Reader instead: these files would not display in Preview for some reason. Via Languagehat.
A few upcoming meetings to tell you about from both the technical and historical side of mapping:
July 10-12: In Boulder, Colorado, the First Annual Virtual Globes Scientific Users Conference, looking at the use of virtual globe software (e.g. Google Earth) in the earth sciences. Via Very Spatial.
Stories about the digital mapping data companies keep coming in; the latest is a CNNMoney.com profile of Navteq in which the streets being profiled are New York’s. It’s from last month, but GPS Review spotted it today.
I’m noticing a formula: profile one company (but not the other); mention one of its clients (but not the rest); feature one city where its surveying is taking place. In this case: Navteq (not TeleAtlas), Mapquest (not Google), New York. I should check the previous stories and see if they do the same thing.
See previous entries: TeleAtlas in Santa Fe; More on Digital Map Field Researchers; CNet Profiles TeleAtlas; SF Chronicle: Digital Map Field Researchers; Backcountry Mapping; Online Maps’ Foot Soldiers.
- Jeff Thurston’s contribution to the debate over free geodata looks at the question of scale: if you want geospatial data to be free and updated regularly, consider the huge amount of territory that has to be mapped.
- Wired’s piece, Map Mashups Get Personal, looks at Platial, a service that touts personal Google Maps mashups. An awful lot of services built on that single API, methinks.
- Glenn Letham is wondering whether he should flip the switch and move to another blog he’s got on another service — Anything Geospatial.
- A pro-Iranian-government web site has a review of Cyrus Alai’s General Maps of Persia, 1477-1925 (see previous entry).
- A tutorial on how to make GPS-enabled trail maps using a handheld GPS unit and Topofusion. Via MAKE: Blog.
From the English edition of the People’s Daily Online: Experts doubt authenticity of China’s pre-Columbus map. In response to yesterday’s press conference confirming the age of the paper:
“The test can only prove that the paper is genuine, but it could be possible that someone forged the map with well preserved paper and Chinese ink,” said Prof. Hou Yangfang with the Historical Geography Research Center of elite Fudan University in Shanghai.
Counterfeit ancient painting and calligraphy were often made by forgers with paper and ink made at that time, Hou said.
While I’m at it, let me add the following. It’s worth mentioning that as a general principle, a document’s age does not prove its veracity. As the venerable French historian Charles Seignobos wrote in the manual on historical method he co-authored in 1898,
Even when the author was able to observe [facts], his text only indicates how he wished to represent them, not how he really saw them, still less how they really happened. What an author expresses is not always what he believed, for he may have lied; what he believed is not necessarily what happened, for he may have been mistaken.
In other words, just because the map says it’s a copy of a 1418 map, it doesn’t make it so. And when a new piece of evidence asserts something not otherwise known or corroborated, it’s important to remember Carl Sagan’s axiom: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”
Which is to say that I don’t believe this map is real. Not for a second.
Worldmapper is a collection of cartograms developed using a new algorithm (creating cartograms — “density-equalizing maps” — is extremely complicated; more details here). There are 56 cartograms on the site so far, all global in focus, with more to come soon; the one shown here, for example, is a proportional representation of rail passenger traffic worldwide. Via MetaFilter.
For more about cartograms, and links to some others, see previous entries: Cartograms and Map Distortions; Electoral Maps Made Proportional; Even More U.S. Presidential Election Maps; U.S. Elections Results Cartogram.
We’ve got coverage of Liu Gang’s press conference regarding his so-called “1418 Map”: BeijingLives has a copy of Liu’s written remarks, wherein he takes on the criticisms point-by-point. Liu: “After going through the ‘holes’ one by one, we should see where the ‘holes’ really are. It turns out that the ‘holes’ referred to by those historians and professors are actually all in their knowledge rather than in the map.” I’ll be very interested to see what the map’s critics, like Geoff Wade, make of this. The comments are open, folks.
Update: Geoff Wade’s equally point-by-point response on MapHist. Key graf: “I remain convinced that this ‘1763/1418’ map is a 21st-century fake. It was certainly produced by someone educated in simplified characters (meaning under the PRC in the last 50 years) and the purpose of the map is to support the Menzies thesis (and so it was produced within the last four years).”
Update, 3/25: Geoff Wade’s response can also be found here.
Another article on field data collection by the digital mapping data companies, this time from the Santa Fe New Mexican, looking at TeleAtlas’s work scouring the streets of Santa Fe. Via All Points Blog.
Mark your calendars and brace yourselves. On Thursday, Liu Gang, Gavin Menzies and company are holding an invitation-only media briefing in Beijing, where they will announce the carbon-dating test results for Liu Gang’s map, which they believe is a copy of a map that proves that the Chinese discovered the world in 1418. (If you’ve been following this story, you will, like me, expect that they will announce that it’s 18th-century paper; how this “proves” it’s an 18th-century copy of a 15th-century map is still to be seen.) Liu will, apparently, issue a point-by-point rebuttal of the map’s criticisms; others will testify as to why they believe it’s genuine. This is going to be fun. Or messy. Or both. Via MapHist.
See previous entry: A Look Back at the Chinese Map Controversy.
Visualizing China’s Future Agriculture is a new atlas — sample pages, sample maps — that is the result of a decade-long collaborative project of the Oregon State University China Working Group. As the Medford News reports, “It is the first work of its kind to offer an extensive collection of maps that show climate, soil characteristics and plant species suitability for an entire country.” In limited supply; nearly 300 pages of full-colour maps; coil-bound; $200. Via GeoCarta and Cartography.
Here’s an article from itbusiness.ca about British Columbia’s Base Mapping and Geomatic Services branch, a part of the provincial government’s Integrated Land Management Bureau. The article covers some of the applications of the branch’s data at a fairly general level. The branch’s web site has only a little available for download in the free section, none of which is very detailed; it’s mostly for-pay digital data.
- An article about GPS and geocaching in South Africa points out the extreme markup for GPS devices in that country: they cost twice as much as they do in the U.S..
- The proposed INSPIRE directive, which would ostensibly standardize the sharing of geographical data among European countries, is raising concerns that it would restrict public access to that data. More at and via Boing Boing.
- Of interest to Movable Type users: the MTGoogleMaps plugin is now at version 3.0. Via Movable Type News. See previous entry.
Via MapHist, I found out about the University of Pennsylvania’s Telsur Project, which maps the variations in English dialect and pronunciation across North America, and is behind the (hella-expensive) Atlas of North American English.
See previous entry: Atlas of Language Structures.
- Buy the Atlas of North American English at Amazon.com (yeah, right)
Scientists at Cal Tech (their site) have manipulated strands of DNA to create, among other things, a map of the Americas that is only a few hundred nanometres across. That’s smaller than human hair or bacteria; in cartographic terms, that’s mapping on a scale of 1:200,000,000,000,000. More details at News@Nature; see coverage from BBC News and Boing Boing (via which).
- Boing Boing reports that the archive of silly Tube maps (previously mentioned here) has gotten into a spot of legal trouble and has been taken offline.
- As a followup on this question, have a look at Stefan’s post about configuring topo overlays from GPS Visualizer from within Google Earth by using this plugin.
- I’ve been meaning to take a look at the various geotagging tools out there; it’s one of approximately eighty bazillion things I’ve got on my to-do list. But one of those tools, Geobloggers, has gone away; chalk it up to the needs of the day job. Stefan has some context.
- Dan McCoy has submitted links to lists of mapping APIs here and here; the latter link also has a 366-entry list of mashups with the various tools.
Google Mars: in the same vein as Google Moon (see previous entry); with visual-spectrum, infrared and elevation imagery. Here’s Google’s FAQ. Via Cartography, amongst many others. (Update: Announcement on the Google Blog.)
- The Batch Geocoding Blog has a comparison of the Google, MapQuest and Yahoo! mapping APIs; it’s a quick outline of what the author sees as the pros and cons of each. Via Very Spatial.
- Alex Stengel says MapMemo 2.5 is now out; see previous entries about MapMemo’s previous releases here and here.
- Friday’s edition of Le Monde had an article on Google Earth —featuring quotes from our friend Thierry Rousselin — and another on satellite imaging more generally. Via Ogle Earth.
- The Harvard Crimson profiles literature prof Tom Conley, who’s interested in maps and cartography, but, being in the humanities, explains what he’s doing extremely abstrusely.
- The Detroit News’s “Trash or Treasure” feature — basically a print version of The Antiques Roadshow — has a look at a local man’s map of Europe that turns out to date from the early 1700s.
A developing story on the MAPS-L mailing list. Last month, a librarian at Western Washington University reported that a number of government documents had been vandalized. The plates had been removed with a razor (the modus operandi of map thieves). Since then, lists of plates and illustrations missing from the library’s collection have been posted to MAPS-L; the missing items are mostly from late 19th- or early 20th-century government publications, such as maps from annual reports of Department of the Interior or plates from Bureau of Fisheries bulletins.
The above reports came from the government documents collection; last week, librarians were able to report that while some items from the main collection had also been vandalized, the Huxley Map Library does not appear to have been hit.
It seems to me that, as far as map thefts are concerned, the only thing worse than catching a map thief and finding out how much he’s stolen is finding out how much has been stolen without catching the thief.
I just finished upgrading to Movable Type 3.2; if you’re reading this, it presumably went well. But there’s always a chance of a bug somewhere that needs fixing, so if you experience some wonky behaviour on this site, that might be the culprit.
Meanwhile, on Friday night I got it into my head to redesign the site. The new design works fine in Firefox and Safari, but I haven’t had a chance yet to test it in Internet Explorer for Windows, so if something about the new design looks odd (I mean inadvertently odd, not just some weird design element that’s not to your taste), let me know and I’ll do my best to clear it up.
(I’m going to try calling these link roundups “Triangulations” and see how that goes.)
- Via GPS Tracklog, the difference between Garmin’s and Magellan’s topo maps.
- The National Geographic Society is planning a “mega-map” of the Sonoran Desert region. “It will zero in on 200 to 300 special sites nominated by the public — each site remarkable for its scenery, history, culture, art or cuisine.” Via GeoCarta.
- A map showing future extinction hotspots for mammalian species has been published; it maps potential, future risk, not a current crisis. See BBC News, Boing Boing and Nature coverage.
- Following up on a tutorial on how to create a Virtual Earth Dashboard widget for OS X, here’s round two: Extending the Dashboard Virtual Earth Widget.
The U.S. National Atlas has maps of the congressional districts of the current session of Congress, both as previewable GIFs and printable PDFs. Both state and individual district maps are available. As Brad, who submitted this link, points out, it’s a great way to see what a gerrymandered district looks like.
Evan Roberts asks,
Why do you think Google hasn’t integrated USGS topographic quads as a layer in Google Earth? Not enough of a demand? Not relevant to its business model? Don’t want to step on the toes of GPS partners? I’ve seen examples of users’ attempts to overlay topo in GE and, combined with the “Terrain” layer, the results can be fantastic! Any thoughts?
It’s an interesting question, in that (1) I thought that USGS data was freely available and (2) the terrain layer is fantastic in and of itself, but with a topo map overlay would be better still. Though it’s probably unanswerable in terms of “why isn’t Google doing this?” The bottom line is: the data is available, though not as a default — and once you load a layer in, the difference between Google’s layers and third-party layers isn’t really noticeable, is it?
I am aware of a few relevant links. A few days after Evan wrote in with his question, I got an e-mail from Matt Fox about his archive of historical topo maps for Google Earth: “The Google Earth Map Archive contains over 500 Historic USGS Topographic Maps for Google Earth. The maps date back to the late 1800s and right now are mostly for California, but more maps are being added all the time.”
There’s also some material on acquiring topo map raster images to use in Google Earth: this post on Ogle Earth points to a few sources; this post on Google Earth Blog points to a method of creating image overlays.
Finally, though it’s for Google Maps rather than Earth, BackcountryMaps is a mashup that integrates USGS topo maps and aerial data with the Google Maps API.
MapQuest finally has an API: they’re calling it the OpenAPI, it’s in beta, it was announced yesterday at O’Reilly’s Emerging Tech Conference, and (naturally) it has a blog (via Spatially Adjusted). From what I gather — see Mapping Hacks and Ed Parsons — the trick for MapQuest — and this may explain why it’s so late in coming — was apparently coming up with a free API that didn’t detract from its commercial partnerships. Clearly they’ve got a lot of ground to make up, so there’s a contest for the best mashup using the API (due by the end of the month).
I’ve been meaning to reorganize the entry categories for some time, and I’ve taken a first step this morning: “Web Tools,” which mainly covered Google, Mapquest et al., is now Online Maps; “Hacks” is now a subcategory of Online Maps and has been renamed Hacks & Mashups. For the next little while, I’ll be reorganizing and renaming categories, and reassigning old posts to new categories.
More than sixty highly detailed and oversized prints in this special exhibition will offer a chronicle of one of the greatest periods of urban growth in Texas history. … These prints are not only surprisingly accurate historical documents but intricate works of art as well. They were drawn by hand using, most often, two-point perspective to produce a three-dimensional rendering. According to research, eleven different itinerant artists drew and published at least sixty-seven bird’s-eye views of Texas cities.
Meanwhile, an exhibition of maps from the Missouri State Archives, Mapping Missouri, will be on display at two locations in Hannibal, Missouri until April 23. “Drawing from such diverse examples as the land survey maps made by Antoine Soulard in St. Louis from 1796-1806, to the computer generated Lewis and Clark maps created by Jim Harlan and the University of Missouri’s Geographic Resources Center in 2002, this exhibit explores the history of cartography in Missouri and the role maps have played in our everyday lives.”
The Map Book, edited by Peter Barber, continues to get attention. It was reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last month: “Barber’s chronological format is easy to browse, fascinating when read in sequence. Each righthand page is a full-color reproduction, usually one portion of a larger map. The left page explains the map’s history and significance, headed by a two-line synopsis, and down the left margin its year and a smaller color illustration, usually the full view of the map on a mosaic floor, a shield cover, a tapestry presented to Elizabeth I.” Via GeoCarta.
It also got a brief mention in TrulyObscure last week.
- Buy The Map Book at Amazon.com
Commercial artist James Niehues is responsible for a large number of panoramic ski resort maps — those bird’s-eye-view illustrations showing all the runs. A lot of them are available on his web site: there are galleries for eastern U.S., western U.S. and international resorts, as well as regional views and summer resorts. Neat stuff.
Virtual Earth is working on adding street-level images; it’s only a preview so far (viewable here; works in Firefox but not Safari) and only for San Francisco and Seattle. It’s basically the same as the A9 imagery that made the rounds last year. It’s fun, but I’m not sure how functional it will be.
Via La Cartoteca, I discover images and maps from the USGS’s Astrogeology Research Program: a collection of imagery, GIS data, and map products (e.g., globes for sale) for other planets and moons from our Solar System.
Barbieri’s stunning photography, which I posted about in January, uses an expensive tilt-shift lens to make aerial photography look like photos of models rather than the real thing. But you can fake the same effect through Photoshop; here’s a tutorial. People are trying it with their own photos, with mixed results: see this Boing Boing post and this Flickr group.
Update (3/02): The Virtual Earth blog has an item about doing this with Virtual Earth’s bird’s-eye imagery.
The Atlas of Alberta Railways is a collection of historical maps showing the development of railroad lines in Alberta (and western Canada); there are more than 200 maps available through a surprisingly good Flash interface. This is not a collection of old maps; these maps were created for the web site by a University of Alberta geographer, Geoffrey Lester, for whom this project has literally been decades in the making. The maps are absolutely excellent; they’re also accompanied by a good amount of supporting historical material. Via the latest issue of Canadian Railway Modeller.
The anagram map of the London Underground I mentioned last month has since been hit with a cease-and-desist by Transport for London. In response, and in an act of solidarity, someone else created an anagram map of the Toronto subway — which, in turn, was also hit with a cease-and-desist order. Now anagram maps of damn near every subway system in the world are springing up everywhere, and Cory’s blogging every one of them; yesterday’s post seems to catch all of his recent posts, so you should be able to find them all that way.
Meanwhile, and also via Boing Boing, the Sponsored Tube Map (PDF) — what the London Underground might look like if, like stadiums, companies could sponsor stations and get them named after themselves.
Finally, there’s this collection of silly tube maps: I’ve blogged some of the individual maps before, but I don’t think I’ve seen them all collected here.