NASA’s Earth Observatory provides Landsat 5 images of Las Vegas in five-year intervals from 1984 to 2009. The images show the city’s incredible rate of growth over that period. They also line up perfectly, so once again I’ve taken the liberty of turning them into a slideshow:
Richard Akerman sends along a link to this article on model cities in the March issue of Wired.
Model cities aren’t just for show; they can have real utility. In 1957 the US Army Corps of Engineers created the Bay Model, a replica of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta meant to simulate the impact of public works projects and disasters —natural and man-made — on currents and tides. …
More recently, the growth of municipalities like Dubai, London, and Sydney is stirring renewed interest in miniature cities as planning tools. The new crown jewel of shrunken sprawl resides on the third floor of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center: At more than 6,500 square feet, the stunning depiction of China’s most populous city circa 2020 is one of the largest models of its type in the world.
Emily on the Planetary Society Blog: “Planetary cartographer Phil Stooke has been working on a cool project to compose and compare maps of Mars that show how we saw the planet throughout the Space Age.” It is very cool. The grayscale maps, ranging from a USAF 1962 map based on telescopic observations (canals?!) to a 2000 map based on Mars Global Surveyor imagery, are all on the same cylindrical projection, which makes direct comparisons possible. It also means that I was able to take the liberty to create a slideshow using Phil’s maps:
(I must say that I love the crossfades.) For larger versions of these maps, see Emily’s post.
Historic Map Works is building a business offering cadastral and other antique maps online; from their collection of 1.2 million maps, most of which were obtained by buying the companies who published them, more than half a million have been put online so far. It’s freely browsable, but it’s not free: zooming in closely requires an account with a positive balance, and there are fees associated with certain transactions. Mass High Tech Business News has more; via All Points Blog and GeoCarta.
Astronomy reports on Return to the Moon, a short film designed for the Science on a Sphere platform (see previous entry): “‘Return to the Moon’ takes imagery and data sets from the Apollo, Clementine, and other missions and projects them on a 6-foot sphere. The results give the startling impression of the Moon hanging magically in the center of darkened theaters. During the 5-minute film, viewers will witness NASA’s legacy of lunar exploration and come to understand the rationale for the agency’s ambitious plans to return to the Moon, beginning with a robotic mission called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).”
On GeoCarta, Roger Hart has been following the story of TomTom’s financial difficulties — lower sales, job cuts, and, most recently, the fact that TomTom lost €989 million last quarter, thanks in no small part to the €1.048-billion writedown of the value of its purchase of Tele Atlas, without which TomTom would have shown a profit. Indeed, TomTom’s purchase of Tele Atlas may have cost it too dearly: it cost an extra €900 million thanks to a bidding war with Garmin. Garmin walked away, but Roger suggests, citing this Kansas City Star article, that Garmin’s loss of Tele Atlas has turned into a long-term win. (Note that the Star is Garmin’s home-town paper, so the boosterism is not exactly disinterested or accidental.)
An international scientific expedition has wrapped up its mission to map the Gamburtsev Mountains. What’s the twist? The Gamburtsevs are in Antarctica — under up to four kilometres of ice. The mapping was done seismically, as you can well imagine. Go read. Via Very Spatial.
Representations of maps seem to be a popular source material for corset makers: Mayfaire Moon is releasing a corset in honour of the publication of Catherynne M. Valente’s new fantasy novel, Palimpsest; ProfMaelstromme offers an underbust “steampunk map corset” (pictured at right; see listings at Brute Force, Etsy and ThisNext); and there’s also this treasure map corset. None of which are cheap, but my impression is that corsetry generally isn’t.
No new data, but Yahoo announced some upgrades to Yahoo Maps’s interface and international support (languages, kilometres-vs.-miles) yesterday.
I spent some of today taking some test shots (finally!) with the Nikon GP-1 geotagger attached to my D90; I hope to have a review for you soon. Meanwhile, John Biehler’s review covers a lot of the ground I was planning to cover; he even has photos of the unit in operation atop his camera of the sort I was meaning to take! Curses! Anyway, you should go read it if you’re interested in this gadget. Photo by John Biehler. Via the Geotagging Flickr group.
- Buy Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit at Amazon.com
Edward has a couple of additional data points to add to the Google vs. MapQuest market share question; in addition to the four-point gap Hitwise reported, comScore apparently says that Google beat MapQuest in January; Compete.com reports something similar.
Edward also points to this rant by former AOL executive John McKinley about how MapQuest went wrong. “At some point along the journey, it has lost its way, in terms of the primary mission it is meant to serve. It is all about simple, informative directions,” he writes.
The current experience is, as a friend of mine says, a dog’s breakfast. I am not sure what my eye is supposed to be drawn to. It sure the heck isn’t the actual directions — they barely begin above the fold. This looks like a misapplied implementation of a tactical focus on short-term revenue (e.g., note the big slug of non-relevant sponsored links for Florida and Cancun smack dab in the middle of the page).
Now, look at the Google Maps display — it is all about consumer payoff. I see the turn-by-turn directions and the map rendered above the fold, and the first sponsored link is on the left rail after the directions.
I do understand the case for monetization of traffic, but when that starts materially impairing the consumer experience, you start putting the franchise at risk. MapQuest has reached that point.
Previously: Market Share Update.
GIS for Dummies is now out (see previous entry); Leszek has some information about the author, Michael DeMers, an associate professor of geography at NMSU and the author of several other books on GIS, including the textbook Fundamentals of Geographical Information Systems. Via Slashgeo.
- Buy GIS for Dummies at Amazon.com
A 75-year-old collector, Tomasz Niewodniczanski, has donated a portion of his collection to the Royal Castle in Warsaw (now a national museum). “The donation includes maps and plans of Polish towns and letters and manuscripts of Polish kings — from Casimir the Great onwards) — prominent writers such as Mickiewicz, Norwid, Gombrowicz and composers such as Chopin.” Not the first donation by any means: “In 1998 Niewodniczanski donated a collection of maps of the Pomeranian region to the University of Szczecin and in 2002 donated over 200 maps of Silesia to the Ossolineum Library in Wrocław. His collection of historical artifacts and maps is one of the most important and most interesting collections of its kind in the world.” Via MapHist.
Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas
by Roger W. Sinnott
Sky Publishing, 2006. Coilbound, 124 pp. ISBN 1-931559-31-7
The Cambridge Star Atlas, Third Edition
by Wil Tirion
Cambridge University Press, 2001. Hardcover, 96 pp. ISBN 0-521-800846
Rod Mollise’s recent look at star atlases (see previous entry) reminded me that I’ve been meaning to review a couple of star atlases in my possession. They are Wil Tirion’s Cambridge Star Atlas, the third edition of which came out in 2001, and Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas. Both feature beautiful, sharp, black-on-white cartography and neither is particularly expensive — and, in their relative strengths and weaknesses, they complement each other well. While I’m hardly an experienced astronomer, I do enjoy looking through my telescopes as often as I can, and can say a few things about how these two atlases have helped my observations.
I started with Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas by Roger W. Sinnott; because of its small size and coil binding, I’ve found it to be quite useful in the field. It depicts stars down to magnitude 7.6, which according to the introduction covers stars visible in a finderscope; I don’t have a finderscope (I use red-dot finders) so I can’t evaluate that; it also includes double stars, galaxies, globular clusters and nebulae that could reasonably be expected to be visible in a small telescope. This is, in other words, to be an an amateur astronomer’s working star atlas, and it largely succeeds.
The Pocket Sky Atlas contains 80 main plates — the sky is divided into 10 gores, with 10 plates per gore. Plates at the celestial equator roughly 40 degrees of declination and 90 minutes of right ascension, at a scale of roughly five degrees to 24 mm. (There are also close-up charts for some obvious areas of interest: the Pleiades, the nebulosities in Orion, the galaxy cluster in Virgo and Coma Berenices, and the Large Magellanic Cloud.) There’s always oodles of overlap, which is handy, but it’s a hard atlas to browse. That’s partly because of the book’s small size and the charts’ large scale, which are assets in every other way. But browsing from plate to plate is problematic, because within each gore the plates proceed from north to south, which forces me to turn past a lot of southern hemisphere charts to get to the next plate east or west.
The Pocket Sky Atlas’s weaknesses are the Cambridge Star Atlas’s strengths. And vice versa: a hardbound atlas that only goes to magnitude 6.5 is of limited use at the scope (Mollise himself doesn’t recommend this class of atlas as a result). But it’s the right magnitude for naked-eye visual observations, and its small-scale charts have really helped me figure out where everything is in relation to everything else. So they’re complimentary in that respect: I can use, for example, the Cambridge to plan my observing evening at home, and take the Pocket with me when I take the telescope out to my observing field.
The Cambridge Star Atlas is divided into three parts: a series of monthly sky maps (the sort you’d see every month in Astronomy or Sky and Telescope, or on a planisphere), the star charts themselves, and a set of all-sky maps in the Mollweide projection showing the distribution of clusters, galaxies and nebulae. The star charts are the meat of the book, and what make it worth getting; facing each chart is a list of points of interest — variable and double stars, clusters, nebulae, galaxies — along with their locations and magnitudes. At a glance, I can tell what’s nearby and, thanks to their magnitude, whether I should try and look for it. (A magnitude-18 planetary nebula, for example, is clearly beyond the possibilities of my five-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain.)
One practical shortcoming of the Cambridge is that so few stars are actually named in the charts. I don’t mean obscure stars that happen to have old Arabic names; we’re talking Bellatrix and Rasalhague, the stars of the Big Dipper, and well-known observers’ targets like Albireo, all of which are only labelled with a Greek letter. In an era of computerized telescopes that ask you to sync your telescope from an alphabetical list of bright stars, such names would be extremely helpful. I hope the fourth edition includes them (this 2001 edition likely predates the widespread use of go-to scopes).
These are by no means the only star atlases out there; other, more experienced observers will have their own preferences. I’ve just scratched the surface, and expect to encounter more of them as I mess around with astronomy some more. But so far I like what I’ve seen.
Maperture is a free geotagging plugin for Aperture, Apple’s pro-level photo management application. It allows you to click on a map (Maperture uses Google Maps) to assign geographical coordinates to your photos.
Maperture worked as advertised on two batches of photos I tried with it, in that geotags assigned in Maperture showed up properly when I subsequently uploaded the photos to Flickr. But there are a couple of areas where the plugin could be improved.
The interface does not work well with multiple photos: if you’ve already geotagged one photo, you can’t add additional photos to its pushpin; you have to select all the photos and geotag them in a single batch. Being able to drag photos onto an existing pushpin would be a considerable improvement. Maperture also adds a “Geotagged” keyword to every photo it geotags, and you can’t turn that off (which is annoying when trying to upload a photo to Flickr; in what I presume is a bug with the unrelated FlickrExport Lite plugin, the tag persists even when you try to remove it on export).
Having said that, it seems churlish for me to quibble about what is, after all, a free plugin that, notwithstanding those nuisances, is quite simple to use. I’ll continue to use it when I need to geotag photos manually.
- Buy Aperture 2 at Amazon.com
iPhone Central reviews a trio of weather radar map applications for the iPhone and iPod touch: Radar in Motion, RadarScope (“the heavyweight here”; pictured at right) and Weather Radar (“the weakest of the trio of offerings discussed here”). RadarScope is $10, the others are a buck each.
ESRI Press has just published the sixth edition of Map Use: Reading and Analysis, which it acquired from its previous publisher. From the press release: “Replete with nearly 500 maps, photographs, tables, and charts to illustrate the text, this informative volume from ESRI Press teaches the basic concepts of geography and the skills of map reading and analysis. The book includes an overview of different types of maps, map scale and projections, grid coordinate systems, relief portrayal, qualitative and quantitative thematic maps, area and volume measures, GPS and maps, and spatial pattern analysis.”
- Buy Map Use: Reading and Analysis at Amazon.com
Analysts, observers and pundits are trying to grapple with the implications of Google’s Latitude, which is apparently new enough to confound our expectations about location awareness and privacy.
Privacy International says that security flaws could endanger user privacy: “PI has determined that the Google system lacks adequate safeguards to protect users from covert opt-in to Latitude’s tracking technology. While it is clear that Google has made at least some effort to embed privacy protections, Latitude appears to present an immediate privacy threat.” (See Computerworld for more.)
The New York Times’s John Markoff believes that mapping is a new metaphor for information, and that Google’s Latitude and similar location-detecting services will blur the relationship between maps and reality.
Meanwhile, Esquire’s Erik Sofge examines the privacy implications and sees both pros and cons to Latitude:
A quick check of Google Maps could become a new kind of effortless mobile communication, replacing the “where are you?” text, which has already all but replaced the “where are you?” call, which has already officially replaced the premise for most of Seinfeld’s first three seasons. And despite all the effort that teenagers will waste spoofing their Latitude-scanning parents, there’s the potential to track a legitimately missing child. There will be abuses, like the ex keeping tabs on your social life (until you remember to boot them off your Friends list), and the occasional jet-setters, expecting you to track their vacation through Tuscany. Latitude will be precisely as annoying as e-mail and social networking sites and cell phones themselves — and just as useful. What won’t stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it.
Of course, people have to opt in to the service. Only one of my friends is using Latitude, and that person has not once set their location. Broadcasting your personal location — even among a controlled list of friends and family — is an idea that I think gives most people — particularly women — the willies.
This is silly: Gizmodo’s Photoshop contest inviting people to make up things you’ll never see on Google Street View. Above: Kevin Foster’s first-place homage to Blade Runner; as you might expect given the Giz’s readership, science fiction tropes abound. A nice satire on the mania for finding wacky images in Street View, incidentally. Via Infonaut.
I’ve been meaning to do a review of the star atlases and books about star charts I have in my possession. Until I get around to doing that, please read this post by Rod Mollise — “Uncle Rod” — which reviews a number of star atlases he’s seen and used. In terms of field use, he doesn’t have much time for magnitude-six atlases — i.e., those that show stars down to sixth magnitude — because finder scopes are capable of showing much more than that. He also goes into the pros and cons of using a book-based star atlas versus using planetarium software on a laptop when in the field with your telescope.
If nothing else, his post gives me a few more titles to add to my own collection. Hmm.
When it comes to Macintosh compatibility with GPS units, past entries have largely focused on Garmin’s Mac support. But Garmin certainly isn’t the only game in town on the Mac. Macworld reviews TomTom Home 2.5 for the Mac, which “allows you to manage the maps, media, POIs (points of interest), and map corrections loaded on your Go 930 unit, or any other TomTom GPS you buy (we used the Go 930 as a test unit for the software). The program, which you can also download from the company’s Web site, also lets you purchase and share content, including custom voices (called NavTones in the program). … However, if you want true trip planning, you’ll have to look elsewhere.”
Mapping the Holocaust: the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website has a substantial map section; the maps are fairly basic, at the level of presentations or history textbooks, but not abounding in detail. There are some animated map-based presentations and a couple of (basic) Google Earth layers as well. Via La Cartoteca.
Azerbaijan, Georgia and boundaries. Azerbaijan is developing orthopictomaps at various scales, and is also working out its border with Georgia, which is complicated by differences in 1905 and 1938 maps of the region; they’ve settled on 300 out of 490 km of border so far. Georgia’s other borders are not going so amiably, as Russian mapping agencies are preparing to show South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent (Russia Today; The Other Russia).
While visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta last December, I encountered this globe in the horned dinosaur section of the museum. At the push of a button, a projector displays the location of the fossil beds for a given ceratopsian species. Not as high-tech as some other science globes we know about, but I got to see this one in person. (It was weird having to disengage the dinosaur portion of my brain and engage the map portion for a few minutes.)
Behold Kentaro Nagai’s Twelve Animals, where the world’s continents and islands are rearranged to resemble the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The shapes the continents form aren’t always easy to recognize. It’s also kind of neat to see, for example, Madagascar snuggled up against Ellesmere Island. The shapes are also presented as a series of stamps. Via MetaFilter.
Two researchers are criticizing a map found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report because it “failed to follow several cartographic principles and effectively display information, despite its important content.” In their view, the map misleads because it doesn’t use an equal-area projection, uses different colours instead of hues to represent temperature ranges, and is too complex, with overlapping data. The map is reproduced above.
Personally, I think they’re overstating things (assuming, of course, that the report represents the researchers’ views fairly). An equal-area projection would minimize the polar regions, which are significant in the context of global warming. And the colour scheme mirrors the spectrum: red is warmer than blue. Using hues would obscure the fact that surface temperatures have, in fact, gone down in some regions. It’s okay to disagree with how a map was done, or to argue that you would have done it differently, but that’s not the same as saying that the IPCC got it wrong.
What do you think?
Hitwise reports that MapQuest continues to hold a small lead over Google Maps, even though it looked like Google would soon overtake it a few months ago. Still, compared to last year, when MapQuest held a 50-to-22 lead over Google, a four-point gap is not much to crow about. It’s not where you are; it’s where you’ve been. Via CNet.
Previously: Google vs. MapQuest: Search Results Boosting Map Traffic?; MapQuest: “Out of Hibernation” or Muddling Through?; Market Share; Online Map Mindshare; Forbes on Online Mapping Sites’ Traffic and Income.
Lordy Rodriguez: States of America, which runs from February 21 to May 17 at the Austin Museum of Art, “is the culmination of a multi-year project to systematically reconfigure the United States of America, including all fifty states as well as new ones. … Inspired by his study of maps on road trips, Rodriguez now reconfigures existing maps, creating imaginary compositions that are at once distinctly familiar and candidly absurd. … His meticulous ink on paper maps depict elaborate, imagined geographies populated with misplaced cities and fictive landmarks. Based upon highly personalized decisions and careful research, each map relates to the artist’s own experience of America and its history.”
An even-handed article on Spiegel Online looks at how Google Maps can be used to help or even save people (e.g., providing information on Australia’s bushfires) to how it can be used to hurt people (e.g., displaying sensitive personal information or information that could be used in wartime). “Here, the mapping tool can be used as both a tool and a weapon — in the same way that a fork can be used to eat with or to stab someone in the eye.” Via All Points Blog.
The curators of an upcoming exhibition that combines photography and cartography are looking for submissions:
This exhibition reveals mapping itself as a generative process of knowledge creation, a liberatory method for re-imagining and re-imaging our world, its built and natural environments, and the relationship between space and place. … Appropriate work includes cartographies that use photography as well as photographs that employ a cartographic vocabulary (location, territory, scale). The exhibition will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to a broad spectrum of visual culture — we welcome submissions from social scientists, urbanists, and designers as well as artists.
The deadline is March 31; Photocartographies: Tattered Fragments of the Map opens in Los Angeles on May 16. Via MAPS-L.
NASA imagery of the bushfires in the Australian state of Victoria can be found here (from which I took the above image) and here. See also Universe Today. Imagery from NASA’s MODIS imagery is apparently being updated twice daily.
This imagery has been incorporated into Google’s response to the fires, which began with a map mashup of information from the County Fire Authority about fire locations and status. The Google Australia blog explains: “To explain the map, the number in each marker shows the number of fires at the location. A green marker means the area is called ‘safe’ by the CFA. Yellow means ‘controlled’. Orange means ‘contained’. Red means ‘going’.”
Google Maps Mania also notes a macabre use of Street View: a visual record of towns destroyed by the fires.
Richard notes the arrival of Sony’s new GPS logger. “After essentially creating the category of GPS loggers for photo geotagging with the GPS-CS1 in 2006, Sony inexplicably let the product languish for three years with only minor upgrades. They fell so far behind I have been recommending other brands rather than the CS1. I had been waiting for a ‘GPS-CS2’ to appear, but they’ve skipped all the way ahead to GPS-CS3KA.” Here are the Sony USA and Sony UK product pages.
There are so many GPS loggers out there right now, but I can’t help but think of them as transitional technology — it’s a kludge compared to camera GPS accessories or built-in GPS, but at least it’s a universal kludge (at least the ones that are Mac compatible, that is).
Previously: Sony GPS-CS1 Reviewed.
- Buy Sony GPS-CS3KA at Amazon.com
Joe Francica tries uploading geotagged photos from his BlackBerry Storm to Flickr; difficulties ensue (“it wasn’t a straightforward or intuitive process”).
Inuit mapping and routefinding continues to be a subject of interest — and, it turns out, of considerable complexity. “Inuit trails are more than merely means to get from A to B. In reality, they represent a complex social network spanning the Canadian Arctic and are a distinctive aspect of the Inuit cultural identity,” ScienceDaily reports. “And what is remarkable is that the Inuit’s vast geographic knowledge has been passed through many generations by oral means, without the use of maps or any other written documentation.” Via MapHist.
Another look at the “renaissance in map-making that is rapidly changing how we use and combine maps and data,” driven by GIS and GPS and freely accessible mapping tools, this time from the Toronto Star.
Crime novelist Linda Fairstein’s latest book, Lethal Legacy, has a distressingly familiar plotline. From, believe it or not, The Courier Mail of Brisbane, Australia: “[Series protagonist Alex] Cooper and regular police associate Mike Chapman delve into the shady world of rich collectors and library conservation as Fairstein explores how far people will go to secure a rare map — even murder. [Murder victim] Barr is a suspected associate of map thief Eddy Forbes, who is based on two real-life criminals — Victor Phillips and Edward Forbes Smiley.” Eddy Forbes? That’s just a little too Pimmy Jalmer for me. (The funny thing is, with a summer home in Martha’s Vinyard, Fairstein could easily have met Smiley at some point.) Via Tony and MapHist.
- Buy Lethal Legacy at Amazon.com
Circling Cartography, an exhibition of the work of Marie DesMarais, is taking place this month at the Proximity Gallery in Fishtown, Philadelphia. “The almost whimsical forms and colors combine with found materials including paper, fabric, wood and glass to create landscapes that mimic both aerial views and microscopic images. … Sticks of wood, square strips of plastic and angular paper cutouts move in and out of floral and cellular designs, mimicking the roads and manmade demarcations that crisscross the bits of map incorporated into the work.” More here.
The Hand Drawn Map Association is (a) in conjunction with Princeton Architectural Press, publishing a collection of hand-drawn maps, and (b) is running a contest, in part to solicit submissions for said book. The contest runs until the end of April, with monthly winners along with a grand prize winner (the prizes are notebooks and limited-edition prints). Details at the link. Via Cartophilia.
Previously: Hand Drawn Map Association.
It’s an Apple rumour, so take with the usual mountain-sized grain of salt, but if the next release of Mac OS X (10.6 “Snow Leopard”) includes the CoreLocation framework previously seen on the iPhone/iPod touch platform, says rumour site AppleInsider, it will use Wi-Fi triangulation to determine a computer’s location. I wouldn’t, however, rule out the possibility that it could use a tethered GPS device as well, either natively or thanks to some clever third-party developer.
Previously: GPS on the iPhone.
Ryan Strynatka compares oblique imagery to top-down imagery. In a nutshell, tall buildings. “One problem with nadir imagery is that it can be difficult to tell how tall buildings are, or gather any information about buildings (or anything other features with a ‘vertical’ aspect). Oblique photography allows users to see the sides of buildings and other objects, which has a lot of appeal for a variety of applications,” he writes. “The downside of oblique imagery is that, depending on the angle, objects in the foreground (e.g. highrises) can obstruct the view of anything behind them.” As usual, it depends on what you’re looking for.
Got aerial imagery? Google wants it — and now that Google Earth 5.0 supports historical imagery, it doesn’t matter how old it is (Google LatLong). James makes a valid (albeit snarky) point that this is another example of Google wanting your data for free, but for governments, non-profits and educational institutions, getting their imagery into the main database for Google Earth may well be seen as a plus. Especially since hosting a publicly available, image-rich KML layer could entail some substantial hosting costs otherwise.
This makes four things Google wants, mapwise; Google is also interested in transit information, 3D cities, and GIS data.
PC World’s J. R. Raphael offers three reasons he won’t be using Google Latitude: “Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t want every aspect of my life to be public domain — even when it comes to my close friends and family.” He also raises concerns about what Google or anyone else might do with the data, though in the same breath allows that anything untoward isn’t likely.
My suspicion is that the reasons in favour of broadcasting your location, even if limited to trusted friends, are far outweighed by the reasons not to, and that as a result personal location services won’t really take off. For the most part, people don’t want to be found.
Previously: Google Latitude.
David Rumsey — he of the eponymous website — is donating his entire collection of 150,000 maps, plus digital copies, to Stanford University. Just not all at once: “While Rumsey’s agreement with Stanford calls for his entire collection to be donated, details of when certain maps will be given to the university remain to be worked out.” I mean, there are 150,000 of them; his website, which I presume will keep going in the meantime, only adds three to five thousand a year and only has 18,500 of the total on display. Only. Via MAPS-L.
- Buy Cartographica Extraordinaire at Amazon.com
January’s Virtual Earth imagery update includes a total 37 terabytes of data, Microsoft’s first use of Digital Globe satellite imagery, and, among other things, bird’s-eye imagery for Paris and other French cities (see also, naturally, GeoInWeb.
In other Microsoft mapping news, Live Maps India has been updated, and Microsoft has expanded its business agreement with NAVTEQ. (You will recall that Google is increasingly a Tele Atlas shop; James has noticed the sides lining up.)
Update: Also, Belgium, in typically Belgian distinct Flemish and French versions.
A man reading a map while driving got into an accident in California; GeoCarta notes wryly that it’s not just GPS that gets you into trouble. Me, I’m just worried California will ban maps from cars.
Envisioning Maps is an exhibition at the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York. I’m not sure how long it runs: the museum’s page says it runs until June 26; the ArtInfo page says it closes, um, tomorrow. Anyway, snippets from the press release (on both pages):
The exhibition offers contemporary expressions of the full range of maps throughout the centuries: maps of projected travels or memories of journeys; maps depicting national boundaries or natural resources; maps of the known world or places yet to be explored; maps of worlds real and lost; maps of migration, exile, and immigration; maps for navigation or pilgrimage; maps of military campaigns or ecological disasters; maps of the earth and the constellations; and maps of ancient agricultural fields to the latest NASA and GPS navigational tools. …
Mike Howard’s monumental depiction of the Assassination of Trotsky pulls us into the orbit of presumed world domination; the overturned globe is as explicit as the dead Russian ideologist. Joyce Kozloff uses maps as the foundation for structures in which she inserts a range of issues, particularly the role of cartography in human knowledge and as an imposition of imperial will, and as configured in the imagination, composed of memories and fragments. Doug Beube’s globe studded with matches alludes to the potential for world conflagration, while Paul Weissman depicts the path of the toxic clouds covering Europe and North America following the Chernobyl disaster. David Newman’s anthropomorphic beasts battle and embrace over the tatters of terrain amid turbulent waters.
Google Latitude is a friend-tracking tool for mobile devices; it’s also an iGoogle gadget. Using a mobile device’s built-in GPS (or manual updates), it shows the location of at least those friends who’ve added themselves to the service. See the Google Blog announcement, as well as Google Maps Mania and Richard’s Tech Reviews, for details (including which devices are supported) and context.
As with similar products (such as whereyougonnabe?; see previous entry), it really relies on the network effect for its usefulness. In other words, unless your friends are also using it, it’s kind of useless.
Gizmodo’s Brian Lam says, “I tested the service with some people I know, but it’s been hard to say if it’s useful for a guy who has loved ones in generally predictable places.” Indeed: over the past year, my location could probably be expressed as one of the following four options: (1) at home; (2) at work (which frequently is at home); (3) in transit between home and work (unless they’re the same); or (4) none of your goddamn business. In other words, services like Latitude are aimed at a certain lifestyle — urban, active, and not chained to your desk, i.e., Googlers — that may not apply to everyone.
Randy Plemel has been making stroller- and wheelchair-accessible maps of transit systems — in other words, maps where only the accessible stations are shown; non-accessible stations are erased. After earlier takes on the London Underground and New York Subway, Randy has put together another New York map — this time based on Massimo Vignelli’s controversial map design (previously).
Last month, because its onboard GPS failed, a train in England wasn’t able to stop at any stations until the end of the line, forcing passengers to double back. It’s not just British cars running into trouble with GPS, you know. Via YahooGeo.
Google Earth 5.0 was released today, with a bunch of new features. The ocean layers were not unexpected: ocean floor bathymetry was released a couple of weeks ago (see Stefan’s critique), and the previously announced presence of Sylvia Earle at today’s launch (CNet, Google Earth Blog) telegraphed the focus of this release.
completely unannounced and a bit of a surprise is a separate “Mars mode” (accessible from the same drop-down that toggles Earth and Sky). I would guess that, thanks to so much new and astounding imagery from sources like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a high-resolution digital globe of Mars is finally possible — as opposed to the low-res, in-browser Google Mars (previously) or layering another planet’s imagery atop the Earth.
Other features, briefly noted: access to historical imagery via a slider, which will be dependent on how much older imagery exists for a given location; and the ability to record tours.
Update: My bad: Mars is mentioned in the Google Blog post.
At the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia until May 10, 2009, Jed Hotchkiss: Shenandoah Valley Mapmaker, a collection of Civil War maps by the Confederate Army’s mapmaker.
The amazing maps of Jedediah Hotchkiss helped Confederate officers plan military strategies. With their remarkable accuracy and detail, these maps played a major role in helping Stonewall Jackson achieve his many military successes in the Civil War. …
This fascinating display includes sixty maps, sketches, and digital images from the Library of Congress, two Hotchkiss maps from the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives of Handley Regional Library, and several of the mapmaker’s instruments from the collection of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.
There is a review in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star with the following advisory: “In order to get the most from the Hotchkiss maps, I’d urge bringing a hand magnifying lens.”
(Image: Hotchkiss’s “Sketch of the Second Battle of Winchester,” detail.)
Map thefts are a part of a greater whole: the theft of antiquarian books. The Guardian profiles a book thief who has managed to elude capture, William Simon Jacques, “one of a handful of highly intelligent, well-educated criminals who operate in the somewhat murky world of international antiquarian book traders, collectors and curators. They successfully plunder priceless tomes, manuscripts and ancient maps, while the players in this closed world — the national and international libraries, the dealers and the victims themselves — largely remain silent about what is going on.”
Forbes Smiley and Farhad Hakimzadeh are also name-checked; also revealed is the fact that Hakimzadeh, before he raided the British Library and unbeknownst to the Library, “had stolen almost £100,000 worth of books from the Royal Asiatic Society 12 years before. But in an out-of-court settlement, which included a gagging clause on both sides, Hakimzadeh paid the RAS £75,000 and details were not sent around the international library alert system.”