February 2008

Hand Drawn Map Association

Hand Drawn Map Association (thumbnail) The Hand Drawn Map Association “is an ongoing archive of maps and other interesting diagrams created by hand. Whenever you draw a map explaining how to get somewhere or find a map or other hand drawn diagram laying around somewhere, please consider sending it to us for our archive. We’ll share it with others and preserve it for future generations. We accept any and all submissions as indicated below.” Not many maps so far, but they’re encouraging submissions. Thanks to Kris for the link.

Previously: Hand-drawn Maps.

True Marble Satellite Imagery Freely Available

True Marble (Unearthed Outdoors)

Unearthed Outdoors has made its True Marble 250m-resolution satellite imagery available for download under a Creative Commons licence; their 15m-resolution imagery costs money. The files are available either in GeoTIFF or PNG format and range from 32-kilometre to 250-metre resolution. At higher resolutions the world must be downloaded in pieces; even then, the GeoTIFF files can exceed 500 MB. Via La Cartoteca.

WorldWide Telescope Announced

Microsoft gave a demonstration today of its forthcoming WorldWide Telescope application, the site for which is now online, but we still don’t have very much hard information about it. A lot of reactions. Robert Scoble, who when he saw a demo of the software said it reduced him to tears, actually offers some information on what it does and why people might be reacting the way they do. Coming in the spring, and Windows-only due to its codebase.

Previously: Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope.

Smelly Maps

Maps with scents? The Globe and Mail explains:

Carleton University cybercartographer Fraser Taylor and his colleagues have already developed multimedia maps and atlases that use sound, music, photos and artwork to convey information about places such as Antarctica and the Arctic. Now he and doctoral student Tracey Lauriault are working on maps with scents.
They are putting together a prototype of a scented digital map. It will use a virtual odour display, or scent diffuser, a device that is available commercially for as little as $369 U.S. One particular model releases up to 60 scents from a cartridge containing liquid scent capsules. Think of it like a desktop ink-jet printer, Ms. Lauriault said. Essential oils are heated and diffused into the air with a small fan. The computer tells it which scents to release, with options that include the smell of coffee, an apple orchard or burnt wires. The software allows people to make personalized scents, which they can transfer by “smell-mail” to someone else with a diffuser. The scents can also be used in interactive web-based applications.

Since very few of us have scent diffusers attached to our computers (damn it, I’m fresh out of USB ports), this is a technology that will have to wait until smellivision becomes ubiquitous.

The Longitude and Latitude Song

John Krygier points to the “Longitude and Latitude” song. Performed by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans, the song comes from Space Songs, one of several science-education albums recorded in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Six of those albums can be downloaded at Jef Poskanzer’s Singing Science Records page. (It’s entirely cool that They Might Be Giants covered one of the other songs from Space Songs.)

Transportation and Communications Maps of Mexico

Ken Arroyo Ohori writes, “The Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport provides good maps on all forms of transportation in Mexico. Maps are divided by state and have just been updated.” The maps are good-quality PDFs, which means they’re big files. The state maps are found on this page; there’s also a smaller-scale national map.

Previously: Atlas of Mexico.

A Geotagging Roundup

Two recent articles on geotagging, both of which describe it as an emerging trend, mainstream acceptance of which is just around the corner. This Associated Press story describes its potential and its utility, along with current methods, but notes that its uptake isn’t high — it notes Flickr’s estimate that five percent of its photos are geotagged. Which, depending on how you look at it, is “only” or “as much as” — I’m of the latter view, given the relative youth of the geotagging trend.

And this entry from Stephen Shankland’s Underexposed blog on CNet focuses on the current state of geotagging technology, with a clear any-minute-now take on cameras with built-in GPS:

Geotagging will be built into cameras, said Steve Haber, senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ digital imaging and audio division. “It has to be,” he said. “We keep hearing, ‘My PC is this black hole for my photos’ … People (need) as much metadata on their pictures as possible — date, location, event — which allows for easier search and for eliminating the black hole.”
“There’s no doubt we’ll see cameras with built-in GPS within the next two years, possibly sooner,” said Chuck Westfall, technical adviser for the professional products marketing division at Canon, the world’s largest camera maker. “The desirability of that feature is quite clear.”

I take all tech prognostications with a grain of salt; I think geotagging is too much on the bleeding edge for wide-scale consumer adoption, but I do expect to have more all-in-one geotagging options than we currently have. Just don’t expect a GPS in every compact camera.

Via All Points Blog and Richard’s Tech Reviews.

The History of the Cartogram

1911 Apportionment Map John Krygier looks at the history of the cartogram, beginning with an “apportionment map” from 1911 that he says is “one of the earliest cartograms I have seen” and continuing with a discussion of the history of the term: maps that were called cartograms at the time would not be now; they’d be choropleth maps or graduated circle maps or even bar charts today. “According to Waldo Tobler,” he writes, “the term cartogram has been used since at least 1851, but it seems like the kind of cartograms shown above are rare until the first few decades of the 20th century.”

Previously: Cartograms from Worldmapper; Cartograms and Map Distortions.

Designed Maps

Book cover: Designed Maps (thumbnail) The ESRI Mapping Center blog reports on a new book from ESRI Press: Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users. It’s by Cynthia Brewer, who also wrote Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users (see previous entry).

The goal of the book is to offer a graphics-intensive presentation of published maps, providing cartographic details that will prompt GIS users to think about their own maps and how to improve them.
The book is organized into six chapters that each character a common map theme and begin with a brief introduction, a map that was redesigned three different ways, and follows up with examples and descriptions of published maps.

A Cartographic Scriber Writes

Ralph Jackson writes, “I was a cartographic scriber in the United States Air Force a few decades back. I was quite fast and accurate with this skill. Is scribing still used anywhere in map production today or has it gone out with the horse drawn plow?” Here’s the Wikipedia entry on cartographic scribing; just because something was done by hand doesn’t mean it wasn’t technologically impressive for its day.

Blogging the Festival of Maps

Hugh Yeman writes, “I recently caught the cartography bug, and I’ve spent the last several weeks writing almost exclusively about two visits to the Chicago Festival of Maps. As I’ve researched the exhibit items I’ve been quite surprised to find no other in-depth articles about the festival. Since the ‘Maps: Finding Our Place in the World’ exhibit is coming to Baltimore next month, I’m hopeful that my blog will generate interest in that event.” Hugh’s entries aren’t tagged or categorized, but you’ll find the entries in question in his January and February monthly archives.

‘Extraterrestrial Islands in a Methane Sea’

Titan Island Group [Peter Minton] Since, as you know, I’m deeply interested in the mapping of the other planets and moons of the solar system, I was very much interested in two recent posts by Peter Minton, in which he takes Cassini imagery of Saturn’s moon Titan and generates maps from that imagery: here and here. There’s also a Flickr photoset; the image of the Titan island group here is his. Via Planet Geospatial.

Most extraterretrial “mapping” is simply orthorectified space-probe imagery imposed on a cartographic projection; it’s interesting to see an actual map of another world.

74 Maps Stolen from British Library

A note from the British Library’s Security Co-ordinator, Judith Barnes, that appeared on Shelf:Life and has been reprinted at PhiloBiblos:

I very much regret to report that we have discovered the theft of 74 maps from Description de l’Univers, contenant les differentes systèmes du monde, les cartes … de la géographie ancienne et moderne … et les mœurs … de chaque nation by MANESSON MALLET, Alain. (Paris, 1683). This is now the subject of a police investigation with the Arts and Antiques Unit. We do not yet know when the maps were stolen, and as soon as I have more information I will be in touch again.

PhiloBiblos reports that the work is “a five-volume set containing some 677 plates” — 74 of which have been stripped from the British Library’s copy — and that it is a “quite rare, quite valuable work (three copies are listed on AddAll today with prices ranging from $24,000 to 30,000).” Via MapHist.

The Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map

Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map (thumbnail) At the University of Maine’s Folger Library this Wednesday, cartographer Michael Hermann and Penobscot Nation Tribal Historian James Francis will give a presentation on the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map. “‘The Process of Map Design: equal cartographic voice’ will be an opportunity to understand more about the trails taken by Thoreau and the Penobscot Indian guides who accompanied him, as well as the unique collaborative process that led to the map’s creation.”

Pittsburgh GPS Review

“GPS units are like friends with personality quirks that sometimes can be hard to figure,” writes Bob Karlovits in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “They know all the answers. They are insistent on telling you them. They never admit to being wrong.” Karlovits goes on to review four navigation systems based on their ability to manage the local road network. “We wanted to look at how reliable their method of navigation is in Western Pennsylvania, where rolling hills can make places virtually hidden, roads have emerged from cow paths, and sets of steps are ordained as streets.”

Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope

Microsoft will be launching a competitor to Google Earth’s Sky feature, called “WorldWide Telescope,” on February 27, TechCrunch reports. The downloadable desktop software is claimed to be “significantly better” than either Google Earth or Stellarium in terms of data and interface, but it will be (sigh) Windows-only at least at the outset, so I won’t get to play with it. Via Digital Earth Blog.

‘When GPS Turns Bad’

Computerworld’s David Ramel sums up the rash of stories about drivers getting into trouble by (blindly) following directions from their GPS navigation device. “These things actually seem to happen fairly often,” he writes. “For some reason, most of them occur in Great Britain.” Via The Truth About Cars.

Ramel’s blog entry is long on anecdotes and short on explanations; for a look at the big picture (including why it may be happening more often in the UK), see the following previous entries: Another GPS Navigation Incident: Some Questions; New York Times on GPS Navigation Accidents.

On a personal note, several of our friends managed to be two hours late getting to a party we hosting despite having two — two! — navigation systems in the car with them; the gadgets kept putting them in the opposite direction until they (finally!) got straightened out. Before these gadgets, people who had no idea how to get where they were going would ask for directions or — gasp — buy a map. In the end, our friends had to call us for help — which is what they would have had to do in the first place, if they hadn’t had the navigation systems.

The Holy Grail of Geotagging

David Thulin is searching for a geotagging camera:

I have been looking far and wide for the tools needed for immediate and automatic geotagging of images taken. My quest took me through Yahoo! Answers, numerous searches through forums and gadget-sites — all without success.
The GE E1050 is what brought me to you — but, alas, we both seem to have come to the conclusion that although it comes close, it does not really do it.
Now — to put things clearly: is there, anywhere, a consumer/prosumer point and shoot camera which immediately embeds long/lat (and maybe even altitude) figures into the EXIF-data of images taken?

Now this is a good question. The only solutions I’m aware of are external devices that connect to cameras (such as Ricoh’s 500SE camera, which accepts such a module, the Jobo Photo GPS, or, for Nikon DSLRs, the GeoPic II or other options) or GPS loggers that embed the geodata when you get back to your computer. But an all-in-one option?

Swiss Trains in Real Time

swisstrains.ch screenshot Centred on Zürich, this site provides real-time positions of Swiss trains — the icons freaking move — based on their schedules. “The current view is based on the Swiss train timetable, and does not yet show the actual GPS-positions of the trains. But, as Swiss trains are almost always on time, most of the time the position is accurate.” I’ve taken Swiss trains and he ain’t kidding. Too bad this doesn’t work in Safari, but it’s described as being at an alpha stage of development only. Via Gadling.

Nokia Maps 2.0 Beta

Nokia Maps 2.0 Nokia announced its Maps 2.0 Beta last week; its key feature is pedestrian navigation — i.e., turn-by-turn navigation on foot, rather than in a car (see also CNet Reviews). CNet’s Margaret Reardon tried out the service in Barcelona, with an eye toward its utility for city dwellers: “I’ve lived in the same apartment in Manhattan for 10 years. So even though Nokia’s new phone and Maps 2.0 service impressed me on my little tour, it’s safe to say that I don’t really need to spend that kind of money on a phone that will help me get around my own neighborhood. But I also see how cool it would be to have while traveling.”

Previously: Nokia Maps.

Google Sky Lawsuit

A contractor is suing Google for allegedly stealing the idea for Google Earth’s Sky feature. Stefan argues that the lawsuit is “demonstrably frivolous,” citing evidence that the contractor was not the first person to moot the idea. From my perspective, the features the plaintiff claims he suggested aren’t non-obvious — several of them have been standard features in astronomy and planetarium software for years.

Update, Aug. 6: The lawsuit was dismissed.

An Exhibition Roundup

The Daily News Transcript of Norwood, Massachusetts, covers the exhibition of bird’s-eye-view maps, Boston and Beyond, at the Boston Public Library (see previous entry).

I expect that Boston is easier to get to for most of my readers than Windhoek, Namibia, but you may nonetheless be interested to know that the National Art Gallery of Namibia is hosting an exhibition of early maps of Namibia until March 20. It’s the first time that a map of central and northern Namibia made by John Andersson in the 1850s will be on public display. Via Map History/History of Cartography.

Finally, there is some more information about Baltimore’s Festival of Maps, which runs from March 16 to June 8. Like its Chicago ancestor, “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World” will be a highlight (see previous entry).

Mapping Colonial Conquest

Mapping Colonial Conquest [Amazon thumbnail] The South African Mail and Guardian reviews a collection of essays edited by Norman Etherington, Mapping Colonial Conquest: Australia and Southern Africa: “By probing the ‘secret histories’ encoded in maps, which continue to influence the political, legal, social and cultural institutions of each country, the writers attempt to show how these influences subtly shape our policies and democratic processes. They also examine how the maps of colonisers ‘erased, wrote over and displaced indigenous conceptions of space and power.’”

Daily Maps

National Geographic’s Map of the Day site provides (in a vein similar to that of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, which it is strongly reminiscent of) a map along with a brief description every weekday (more or less). Maps may be from National Geographic’s stock or an old map of some sort. Catholicgauze, Contours.

In a similar vein, Matt Harris’s Show Off Your Maps! is a blog that relies on reader submissions of images of their old maps. Via MapHist.

‘Mapping the Universe’ at the Adler Planetarium

The Festival of Maps continues to ripple through the media: yesterday’s New York Times carried a review of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, focusing on the remarkable Atwood sphere, which predated more modern planetarium projectors, and the Mapping the Universe exhibition, which showcases the Adler’s collection of antique star charts. The exhibition ends March 2. Via MapHist.

Review: Canada Back Road Atlas

Canada Back Road Atlas
MapArt, 2007. Paperback, 702 pp. ISBN-13 978-1-55368-614-9

Canada Back Road Atlas (cover) MapArt is easily the largest publisher of road maps in Canada, publishing not only maps of cities and metropolitan areas (both as folded maps and as coil-bound and saddle-stitched atlases), but also large-scale maps of rural areas, providing information on back roads and recreational areas at a level of detail that official highway maps, single-sheet maps and, I suspect, navigational systems simply cannot match. I’ve almost always had a few with me when I travel — where else am I going to find maps of Ontario cities like Guelph or Pembroke?

Now they’ve gone and done something outlandish, quite possibly simply because they could: they’ve published a giant, 700-page omnibus of their provincial back road atlases.

The Canada Back Road Atlas contains large-scale maps for all provinces, and small-scale maps for some. Map scales vary from region to region, due no doubt to the originating back roads atlases and to the relative sizes and densities of each province. Large-scale maps range from 1:250,000 for southern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, to 1:500,000 for Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland (Labrador and the territories get smaller-scale maps only) and 1:540,000 for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The smaller scales do not feel particularly cramped, though the range lines can get in the way on the prairies; insets of city centres and high-density areas are provided for provinces that don’t get the 1:250,000 treatment. The 1:250,000 maps provide fantastic detail, but they also necessitate frequent page-turning. Small-scale maps provide coverage for sparsely populated areas as well, though not for southern Ontario or the Maritimes.

The atlas is broken into several discrete sections — Alberta and B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. It’s a little confusing at provincial borders between sections: my section of Quebec, for example, is covered by an Ontario map plate, which is not replicated in the Quebec section. Large-scale plates pan from north to south, west to east, except in Ontario, where it’s south to north, and they pan across provinces within sections, which is also hard to follow.

All the same, it’s an impressive effort, and one that I’ve been flipping through compulsively. I like it a lot. And it’s a bargain at $40. It is a little too unwieldy to keep in your car, though: it’s heavy, printed on a heavier, glossier paper than other atlases, and it eschews coil binding for perfect binding, which makes me worry that I’m going to crack the spine reading it. I think this will be best as a desk reference; road trips will still need smaller maps and atlases.

I received a review copy of this book.

Mapping the Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems

Map of human impact on global marine ecosystems

A map of the human impact on global marine ecosystems has been published in today’s issue of Science; it reveals that only four percent of the world’s oceans have not been affected by human activity. Matt Perry was part of the research team: “To summarize, we found that the entire ocean is affected and 40% is heavily impacted. It is not all bad news as there are many areas of relatively low impact which could provide examples for ecosystem restoration and opportunities for conservation. The global map is the first of its kind and will help clarify and quantify our cumulative impacts on the ocean and allow us to focus efforts geographically.” Via Free Geography Tools.

Other coverage: Science Daily (via Catholicgauze); Universe Today; Scientific American (thanks to Mike Miller for the link).

Blogs into Books

First came the BibliOdyssey book, a dead-tree compilation based on our friend PK’s excellent blog about archival images (some of which are maps, so I have no qualms about mentioning either blog or book; here’s the Amazon link for the book). It came out last fall, during my busy season, when I was least able to mention it.

Now the same thing is happening with Strange Maps, whose author has just announced the forthcoming Atlas of Strange Maps:

Although the Atlas will be based on the blog, it will not be a quick-and-dirty blogsploitation job. I’m selecting the best maps on the blog for the book, rewriting the entries to incorporate the many necessary corrections and helpful additions provided. I’m also looking for maps that have not appeared on the blog to be incorporated into the book. The Atlas of Strange Maps will be inspired by the eponymous blog, but will stand apart from it.

The author is currently selecting maps and tracking down copyright holders.

Not that either of these bloggers need my help in terms of publicity, but there it is.

Historical Atlas of Canada

Historical Atlas of Canada images The huge Historical Atlas of Canada was published in three volumes between 1987 and 1993. An online version, the Historical Atlas of Canada Online Learning Project, is now being developed by the University of Toronto’s geography department. It would have been impressive enough as scans of the original atlas, but the online atlas is a mixture of static maps (presented in popup windows) and interactive maps powered by ArcIMS. I’m not overly fond of the ArcIMS interface, which in my opinion strains the definition of “user-friendly” and in this particular case is very slow, but this method is still the right way to express changes over time of things like boundaries, which is the whole point of an historical atlas.

Connie Brown’s Custom Maps

The Hartford Courant reports on an interesting business: Connie Brown, working as Redstone Studios, paints one-of-a-kind, custom maps for her clients. Preparing the highly personal maps can take up to a year, and she usually works on three commissions at any one time — one of which was for Vice President Cheney, whose daughter commissioned a map of his great-grandfather’s Civil War exploits.

Cadastral GIS Horror Stories

On the Surveying, Mapping and GIS blog, Dave Smith recounts some GIS horror stories involving cadastral data errors — and the ludicrous things that are done to resolve them. “If you have discrepancies, data gaps, quality issues, other issues, I cannot stress it enough to county tax departments — work with the surveyors. Some counties are very good about this — others are downright frightening if not dangerous.”

Map Store Declares Bankruptcy, Closes

A map store in Tampa Bay declared bankruptcy; MAPSource, the last map store in the area, closed its three stores and printing plant. The owner cited “a definite malaise in the map industry as a whole” and the rise of Internet and GPS mapping. But according to the article, MAPSource’s focus was on “maps for service industries, utility companies and government entities,” which unless I’m mistaken would be facing pressures other than retail or consumer trends. Enlighten me if I’m wrong. Via All Points Blog.


Apologies for the lack of new entries lately; I’ve had my hands full with a couple of things that needed dealing with. And then recovering from dealing with said things. New entries will be forthcoming soon. Lots of catching up to do.

Australia Returns Stolen Map to Spain

A map stolen from a copy of the 1482 Cosmographia held by Spain’s National Library that turned up in a Sydney gallery has been returned by the Australian government.

Previously: Of 19 Stolen Maps, 11 Have Been Recovered; Map Thief Surrenders; Some Maps Stolen from Spanish Library Recovered; Map Theft Updates; Spanish Map Theft Update; Maps Stolen from Spain’s National Library.

And speaking of of the Cosmographia, BibliOdyssey has a recent post.

Light Pollution Maps

Light pollution is the bane of astronomers worldwide. Cities generate so much light that their glow can be seen from great distances; that sky glow interferes with astronomical observations, reducing what can be seen, both with the naked eye and through telescopes. It’s bad enough to close observatories.

There are campaigns against light pollution (see, for example, the International Dark-Sky Association and this New Yorker article from last August) not only on astronomical grounds, but also on environmental (wildlife disruptions, such as migrating birds and nesting sea turtles) and energy conservation grounds. What can you do? Turn off unnecessary nighttime lights and use fixtures that focus all the light downwards, where it’s needed, rather than upwards, where it’s wasted.

Light pollution map (North America)

Meanwhile, astronomers look to light-pollution maps, both to demonstrate the extent of the problem and to find decent sites from which to observe. Maps are available online at The Night Sky in the World website. There are world and continental maps of artificial night-sky brightness, maps depicting the growth of light pollution, and more. If there’s a way to express the loss of night-sky visibility, whether it’s by limiting magnitude or number of stars visible, it’s probably there, though the focus is more on Europe than on North America.

Light pollution (Google Earth screenshot)

The light pollution map can be brought closer to Earth, so to speak, through the Clear Sky Clocks: these web pages measure astronomical observing conditions — not just light pollution, but cloud cover and atmospheric turbulence — at nearly two thousand North American sites. Each observing site’s page has a light-pollution page; here’s one for a site near where I live: there’s a small map showing its location relative to the light pollution map, a legend explaining the colours, and a link to a KML file for displaying it in Google Earth. If my neck of the woods is any indication (above), I could be doing better. Via Ogle Earth.

I think I need to move to Australia.

Restoring the Texaco Map

The Texaco Map was a large-scale replica of Rand McNally’s New York state road map on display — underfoot — under the Tent of Tomorrow at the New York State Pavillion during the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. The map comprised 567 panels, each weighing 400 pounds (181 kg), took up 9,000 square feet (836 m2), and cost $1 million at the time.

Texaco Map on display Since then, the map has been exposed to the elements and has been gradually falling apart. This page has pictures of the map, both during its heyday and during its decay.

While much of the map is beyond repair, efforts are now under way to restore at least part of the map. (Here’s a story from the Queens Chronicle from last May.) And now some of the tiles have been put on display during their restoration, the Times Ledger reports (via MapHist). The exhibition, Back on the Map: Revisiting the New York State Pavilion at the 1964/65 World’s Fair, opened last Sunday at the Queens Museum of Art and runs through May 4 (via Gothamist). The exhibition website has an interactive view of the map in its present state.

Flickr photo credit: aliyan824.

Market Doubts About Nokia-Navteq Merger

There are stock market doubts about the Nokia-Navteq merger, according to a piece in Medill Reports (which is written by graduate journalism students). “According to [Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Yair] Reiner, Nokia has yet to file for antitrust clearance by the European Union, and that’s raising doubts. Nokia and Navteq are committed, he said, but they’re waiting to see the EU’s decision on another merger deal, a bid by personal navigation device (PND) maker TomTom NV for digital map provider and Navteq competitor Tele Atlas NV.” Via All Points Blog.

Early Google Maps Hack Retired

The end of an era. Adrian Holovaty’s chicagocrime.org, one of the original Google Maps hacks that predated the release of the official API and that was frequently held up in the media as practically the archetype of the mapping hack, is being retired.

It’s been a fun ride. When I launched the site, Google Maps hadn’t yet released the mapping API that’s so common — even passé? — today. I can’t help but feel like an old-timer: “Back in my day, we had to reverse-engineer Google’s obfuscated JavaScript just to get maps embedded on our own sites!” Now it seems like every other Web site finds an excuse to use those familiar, bubbly, yellow-white-blue-pastel map tiles.
Chicagocrime.org wasn’t the first Google Maps mashup. That honor belongs to Paul Rademacher’s HousingMaps, which, at that time, was modestly titled “Craigslist + Google Maps.” The straightforwardness of that original title illustrates the excitement of it all: just the mere fact that somebody had mixed Craigslist data with Google’s maps was new and remarkable. Kudos to Paul for keeping the site up and running for all these years. Not only was it a groundbreaking technical achievement; it remains genuinely useful.

A new project of Adrian’s, EveryBlock, supercedes chicagocrime.org (“more than just crime, and more than just Chicago”) — which will now, if you can believe it, become a museum piece. Literally. Via Webmapper.

Census Atlas of the United States

Census Atlas of the United States (book cover) The Census Atlas of the United States “is a large-format publication about 300 pages long and containing almost 800 maps. Data from decennial censuses prior to 2000 support nearly 150 maps and figures, providing context and an historical perspective for many of the topics presented.” While you can order a hardcover version for $165, the atlas is also available online for download, chapter by chapter, as PDFs. Great stuff. Press release, All Points Blog, COMPASS.

Festival of Maps: Mapping Today

“The flagship exhibit at the Field Museum has closed, but Chicago’s Festival of Maps continues. The Newberry Library’s two exhibits are up for two more weeks, and exhibits at several institutions continue through March,” writes Dennis McClendon. “If you’re more interested in how maps are made today than in the 16th century, check out this series of four upcoming talks.”

February 6Adrian Holovaty of everyblock.com discusses Google Maps mashups and hyperlocal mapping.
February 20Christine Bosacki of Nystrom discusses maps and globes in the classroom.
March 12Peter Haas of the Center for Neighborhood Technology discusses geographic information systems and how they can aid community groups.
March 26Dennis McClendon of Chicago CartoGraphics discusses the challenges of making and checking ordinary street maps.

“All lectures are free and open to the public,” says Dennis. “They begin at 6 pm in the Garland Room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. More info at festivalofmaps.org.”

Commendation for Recovering Stolen Maps

Last October, the Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) and the Map and Geography Roundtable (MAGERT) of the American Library Association passed a resolution commending booksellers, auction houses and map dealers for their assistance in recovering stolen maps. “Their efforts made possible the recent recovery of materials stolen from Yale University, Harvard University, the Boston Public Library, the Newberry Library, the New York Public Library, and other institutions by E. Forbes Smiley, and from the University of Texas at Austin by Mimi Meyer.” It’s a minor point, and by now a dated one, but when so much attention is focused on the map thieves themselves, and the security and other problems that allow them to get away with what they do, it’s never a bad thing to balance the scales once in a while. Via MAPS-L.


Iapetus map

The Cassini-Huygens mission’s map of Iapetus — one of Saturn’s moons — has been updated to reflect the exciting (to us astronomy geeks) images taken during Cassini’s flyby of the moon last September. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.) Via Universe Today.

GE E1050 Digital Camera: Built-in Geotagging

GE 1050 I make a point of noting when digital cameras with built-in GPS and geotagging are announced. And, while GE isn’t exactly known for consumer digital cameras, its new E1050 camera does have built-in GPS for in-camera geotagging, which I find interesting. Apart from the $249 price tag, the 10-megapixel camera otherwise seems par for the course for the industry right now. Digital Photography Review, Engadget, Free Geography Tools.

Update (February 2): Does this damn thing have GPS or not? Richard writes, “According to Engadget, the reality is actually a bit more complicated, Engadget says the E1050 will use Geotate, a new fast-capture and post-process GPS technology.” And the Engadget post in question says:

Well, to say that the E1050 has true GPS would not be totally accurate — but the very features it lacks are what make it possible to incorporate geotagging capabilities in the first place. You see, this model only contains a GPS radio courtesy of New Zealand-based Rakon, but no baseband chip to process the data in order to create a “fix”; rather, an NXP Semiconductor spinoff called Geotate provides server-connected software that does the heavy-duty calculations once photos have been transferred over. This results in almost no hit to battery life or endless waits for a solid fix.
It works like this: every time the shutter is triggered, the camera’s memory card briefly captures the raw data from the GPS radio, associating it with each photo. Then, once the pictures have been imported into Geotate’s proprietary client, auxiliary location data is downloaded from a central server, which is then synthesized with the camera data using local resources to establish actual coordinates.

Richard’s post explains more:

Geotate has devised a tiny GPS radio that only records the raw GPS signals for a short time window (200ms) when you take a photo. It doesn’t do any location calculation at all. When you download the JPEG images with embedded raw signal information, it contacts the Geotate server on the net to determine the necessary information about where the GPS satellites would have been at the time the photo was taken, and then runs the calculation (it’s not clear whether locally or on the remote server) in order to determine, based on the signal strength, what the actual location was.

The Gough Map Book Published

Gough Map

The 14th-century Gough Map, the oldest surviving map of Great Britain, is getting renewed attention with the publication of Nick Millea’s study, which, Tony Campbell says, “is the first study for fifty years of this highly important map.” To demonstrate the Gough Map’s accuracy, the book georectifies the map and superimposes upon it a modern map of Britain. Its relative accuracy is what makes the map interesting, according to the Daily Mail article (via Boing Boing):

“There are 600-odd places and, if you compare it with a modern map, most of them are in pretty much the right spot,” says Millea.
“We don’t know whether they did the coastline first then filled in the interior, or whether it was done by word of mouth — a verbal map — so they put in London then worked outwards, adding places they knew.”
Nick Crane, topographer and presenter of TV series Map Man, thinks they may have used an astrolabe — a highly technical instrument used by classical astronomers, navigators and astrologers which involved checking the horizon, the stars, the sun and all sorts of angles.
“This could be the beginning of mathematical map-making — some of the points of latitude have probably been measured through astronomy,” he says.

The Telegraph article, which is briefer, also looks at how the age of the undated map has been estimated (via MapHist).

See also ABC News Australia.

Previously: The Gough Map.