Here’s a new Tube map for you. Transport for London has released a map showing how hot it gets on London Underground station platforms (PDF). Which is to say, very. (And I thought Paris Metro stations were bad.) The map shows the average platform temperature during the afternoon rush hour for two warm days last July. More from the Times. Via Mapperz.
On a similar note, have a look at this New York Times article from earlier this month, which talks about people who use their GPS units to create drawings from the traceroutes of the paths they take. For example:
Pedaling the rectangular city blocks in San Francisco, Vicente Montelongo, 32, a graphic artist, realized the street layout lent itself to the pixeled shapes of vintage 1980s video game characters like Pac-Man, Q*bert and Donkey Kong. Back home with a printed-out Google map and a pencil, he drew Pac-Man chasing a ghost over in the Sunset District and then set out on his bike, iPhone in tow, GPS mapping application on. After riding 8.6 miles in an unwavering line, he uploaded the GPS track data from his phone, and had his picture.
Previously: GPS Drawing Maps.
Times Higher Education has the fascinating story about how two rare 17th-century Portuguese atlases came to be found in the bowels of the library of the Queen’s College, Oxford.
An 1859 map of the Michigan counties of Genesee and Shiawassee in the possession of the Swartz Creek Area Historical Society is falling apart, and the society is wondering whether it’s worth spending the $3,000 to $5,000 it will cost to restore it, the Flint Journal reports: “‘I really don’t think it’s worth it for that kind of money,’ said Bill Morgan, founder and president of the historical society.” The map sat in an attic for decades; it’s unclear how many copies of it remain, though Morgan is aware of one other, plus a copy. (On MapHist, whence the link to this comes, there is a report that the Library of Congress has two “pristine” copies.)
Geocommons has a map of the Afghanistan presidential election results that also includes a number of other, related data layers. Off the Map discusses some of the data and behind-the-scenes work. Via BBC News dot.life and Google Maps Mania.
The Wall Street Journal has yet another map of state-by-state unemployment rates in the United States, with the required slider showing the monthly rate since December 2007. Michigan’s rate is now up to 15 percent. Via MapHawk.
A study sponsored by Navteq argues that having a GPS navigation system with real-time traffic data lets drivers spend less time behind the wheel — between two and a half to four days a year, depending on the country — and produce around 20 percent less CO2. The problem with these reported results, which are based on a study conducted in two German cities, is that they compare drivers with traffic-enabled navigation systems to drivers without any navigation system. But the study also included drivers who used navigation systems without real-time traffic data. Is it the real-time traffic data that offers an advantage, or just having a GPS in the car? How much of the advantage comes from the traffic data, and how much from the navigation? Navteq’s press release doesn’t say. That omission is worth paying attention to. Via Engadget.
Something must have gotten into the drinking water, because OpenStreetMap is getting all kinds of press lately, where it’s portrayed as a no-cost alternative to more costly map data. Dan Sung has an interview with OSM founder Steve Coast that opens with this interesting nugget:
If you purchase a TomTom, approximately 20-30% of that cost goes to Tele Atlas who licenses the maps that TomTom and many other hardware manufacturers use. Part of that charge is because Tele Atlas itself, and the company’s main rival Navteq, have to buy the data from national mapping agencies in the first place, like the Ordance Survey, and then stitch all the information together. Hence the consumer having to pay on a number of levels.
The expense of mainstream mapping data, along with the long interval between updates, is the focus of this piece. Wired’s Gadget Lab focuses on adding maps to a GPS unit, which, of course, is a good deal cheaper with OSM than with a GPS manufacturer’s map updates. Among other things, Priya Ganapati’s article notes that you article notes that you can download OSM maps to a Garmin receiver, but not to a TomTom, which uses a proprietary format. Both via mapperz: 1, 2.
My own village is woefully undermapped in OSM. I may have to do something about that.
Previously: The Guardian on OpenStreetMap.
BibliOdyssey had another fine post earlier this week, this one collecting items that “share the common characteristics of being a jigsaw puzzle or board game incorporating a map, and being produced before 1900.” (It’s probably worth mentioning that Risk only came out in 1957.)
The first full-disk thermal infrared image of the Earth from the GOES 14 geostationary satellite, taken on August 17, shows Hurricane Bill forming in the Atlantic. In this image, the hotter a surface, the darker it appears; from the NASA Earth Observatory writeup:
In the heat of the midday sun, the exposed rock in sparsely vegetated mountain ranges and high-altitude deserts in western North and South America are dark. In North America, the temperatures cool (fade to lighter gray) along a gradient from west to east, as the semi-deserts of the West and Southwest transition to the grasslands and croplands of the Great Plains, which transition to forests in the East.
It’s even more stunning at full resolution.
Ortelius, the Mac mapping application I first blogged about two years ago, is finally available. I’ve downloaded the trial version (it’s only a 30-megabyte download); I’ll play around with it and tell you what I think (which should be interesting, given my complete lack of cartographic skills). The trial lasts 31 days and watermarks your projects; the app costs $79 until the end of September and $99 after that (there’s also an education discount). Via All Points Blog and La Cartoteca.
Previously: Ortelius: Forthcoming Mac Mapping Software.
Quest: Trail Maps of the West, an exhibition of maps on loan from members of the Rocky Mountain Map Society taking place until October 4 at the Loveland Museum and Gallery in Loveland, Colorado (just south of Fort Collins), “features a collection of authentic migration trail maps that date from the 1500s to the 1800s,” says the Reporter-Herald. “Myron West, exhibit guest curator and director of the Rocky Mountain Map Society, says that the maps chosen for the exhibit ‘illustrate the emergence of geographical understanding and the development of transportation routes, specifically emigrant roads, in the American West up to the time that the transcontinental railroad was complete.’”
Piotr Stanisław Peron, a 47-year-old Pole with Canadian residency, was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison by a Czech court for stealing two 16th-century maps from an Olomouc library, the České Noviny reports. Peron was also expelled from the Czech Republic for eight years and ordered to pay 1.2 million crowns (about $67,000 U.S.) in restitution to the library. Peron was caught “red-handed” with one map, but denies stealing the other. He’s appealing the verdict. Via MapHist (thanks as always to Tony Campbell; see his news about map thefts page).
Oh, look. Someone is arguing that a 16th-century map of the world by Oroncé Fine (Orontius Finnaeus) is proof that global warming caused by human activity isn’t happening. Problem is, he’s using Charles Hapgood’s weird theories about an ancient ice-free Antarctica, supposedly proved by Finnaeus’ map — as well as by the Piri Reis map — in order to do it. Let me explain: no.
Previously: The Piri Reis Map of 1513.
We’re gearing up to launch a new feature which makes Twitter truly location-aware. A new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet. Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.
I don’t know where they’re going to find the room for geotags in 140 characters or less …
Austrian design company Fluid Forms creates things from customer-submitted topography. Bowls, clocks and tables are carved out of a laminated block of wood; lampshades are produced on a 3D printer; and silver brooches (pictured) are first 3D printed in wax and then cast in silver. None of which is exactly inexpensive. Via Make.
News of another case of map theft from Spain: an unnamed 47-year-old Hungarian national has been detained in the midst of what appears to be a robbery tour of map collections in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. Nearly 70 stolen maps and documents were recovered from his hotel room. The man apparently wanted them for his own personal collection, rather than selling them. He was apparently inspired by the notorious 2007 theft of 19 maps from Spain’s national library, but you’d think that the riskiest places to hit would be the ones already robbed. Via MapHist.
For the 2007 case, see the following previous entries (most recent first): Updates on the Rivero Case; Australia Returns Stolen Map to Spain; 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.
Place is one of those big ideas I can’t fully grasp, so I won’t try to explain. I like maps because they are instructional and representative. They prepare us for what we’ll find and they guide us there, but no matter how well-constructed a map is, people still get lost. You see it all over NYC, people wandering around with map in hand, completely disoriented. I’m the same way. A map will lend me false confidence that I’m headed in the right direction only to realize that I’ve read it wrong and am completely off course. So I love both the absoluteness of a map and the meaninglessness of that absoluteness because of the fallibility of the map-reader. (Say that ten times fast.)
A project is under way to map the land loss in Louisiana’s wetlands, the Daily Comet reports. The wetlands were last mapped in 1988 under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Center’s National Wetland Inventory; with several significant hurricanes since then, and that, coupled with the usual annual loss rate, means that a lot has changed since then. The maps are being developed by the National Wetland Inventory and the USGS’s National Wetlands Research Center.
Following up on this post, a number of readers have written in to provide additional links to map shower curtains. Several of you have noted that the curtain Jamie referred to is available at Target; it’s also available on Amazon. Matt says this about the curtain: “The map is rather inaccurate with lots of misspellings and incorrectly colored exclaves, etc. Not suitable for navigation. But it is fun to try to find the errors while you are otherwise indisposed in the bathroom.”
Karla points to this collection of map shower curtains — many of which featuring subway network maps — from arty shower store Izola.
Previously: Map Shower Curtain and Bikini.
- Buy World Map Shower Curtain at Amazon.com
A couple of interviews with Colin Ellard as he promotes his book, You Are Here (Where Am I? in Canada): one at Scientific American’s Mind Matters (via Matt), and one on WHYY’s Radio Times (search for the August 10, 2009 broadcast; direct link to MP3; thanks to Reid Hardman for the link).
You might remember that for the longest time, I was in the weird position of writing a blog about maps and mapping technology without so much as owning a single GPS receiver. That state came to an end last December, when I got a Celestron SkyScout for Christmas, and picked up a Nikon GP-1 geotagger shortly after that. (I wrote about the SkyScout in my post about GPS for amateur astronomers, and reviewed the GP-1 back in March.) But while GPS is integral to each of these gadgets, neither would be recognized as “a GPS” in the colloquial sense — i.e., a personal navigation device (PND) with maps and directions.
I’ve resisted buying one of those for years, not just because, as someone who’s been reading highway, street and topo maps from a very young age — I used to read highway maps until I got sick, which in my case was about five minutes — I didn’t see the need. I was also reluctant to put myself in a position where I’d be arguing with the device, disagreeing with the directions it gave me. And all the stories I posted to this blog about people blindly following their PNDs off cliffs or into rivers did not exactly persuade me that I needed one.
Even so, a bit more than three weeks ago, I actually bought one. More specifically, I bought a Garmin nüvi 255W — a rather inexpensive device with a 4.3-inch screen, text-to-speech directions, and not much else in the way of bells and whistles. (GPS Tracklog reviewed the nüvi 255W last year — favourably.)
So why did I do that, after going so long without one? What changed?
Stefan has the definitive account of what happens when Google Maps touches what has to be the live rail of cartography — erroneously publishing Chinese names of communities on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in the disputed Arunachal Pradesh. The usual Indian reaction ensues, and Google quickly corrects it, blaming an error in data processing.
The trick is that both China and India make it an offence to publish maps with the “wrong” borders, and they happen to share an awful lot of border that has been contested for nearly 50 years. (Google has to serve different boundaries to their respective map sites.)
Stefan also shows how Google shows disputed claims and lines of control in Google Earth: red for disputed boundaries, orange for lines of control.
The World Freedom Atlas is a project by cartographer Zachary Forest Johnson (who also has a blog). The Atlas combines a number of datasets from non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations that attempt to measure human rights, freedom, democracy and all that good stuff. Most of the data is in grades or ratings rather than some discrete statistical figure.
If you’re at all interested in map-related paraphernalia, then Jamie at Cartophilia is your guy. His latest find, from photos sent by a friend, is a map shower curtain and a map bikini: the bikini was from Victoria’s Secret and is apparently no longer available; I don’t know where the shower curtain came from, but I want to know (In my household, it’s the only thing that might be able to hold off the periodic table shower curtain that my significant other may be coveting.)
Jalopnik has a guide to map reading for those too reliant on navigation systems. “A dangerous norm is emerging. The widespread adoption of navigation systems is dumbifying the American navigator, making them incapable of reading a map, much less understanding it. To rectify that, here’s the basics of getting where you’re going with paper.” It’s unexpectedly earnest in tone, rather than mocking the map-illiterate. Via APB.
The plains (planitia) of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, will be named after planets from Frank Herbert’s Dune series. The first of these, Chusuk Planitia, already appears on this map of Titan (PDF). The map looks spectacularly incomplete because Titan’s thick atmosphere impedes imaging; the Cassini probe has to map the surface at close range using radar. Via Universe Today.
Spanish researchers claim that etchings made 14,000 years ago on a hand-sized stone represent a prehistoric hunting map: Journal of Human Evolution abstract, New Scientist, Daily Mail. From the New Scientist:
Above recognisable depictions of reindeer, a stag and some ibex are what Utrilla’s team believe is a representation of the landscape surrounding the cave. Several etched lines resemble the shapes of mountains that are visible from the cave. Long, meandering etches match the course of a river that runs at the foot of one of the mountains and splits into two tributaries. A series of strokes that cut across the river near the mountain could represent places where it was easily crossed, or even bridges, the researchers say.
But not all researchers are convinced; others argue that etchings were neither uncommon nor necessarily maps, and prehistoric people likely navigated through mental maps.
This find isn’t necessarily the oldest map in the world — the sidebar to the New Scientist article cites a 25,000-year-old map found in the Czech Republic — but it’s certainly bunches older than, say, the 8,200-year-old putative map of Çatalhöyük, the 2,500-year-old Soleto Map (links below), the 2,100-year-old Papyrus of Artemidorus, or other candidates.
The Daily Mail looks at more than two centuries of the Ordnance Survey, contrasting old maps with the present day — and noting how many familiar features can be found on the Survey’s older map series. Via GeoCarta.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reviews Colin Ellard’s book on how people (and animals) navigate, You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall (in Canada, it has been published as Where Am I?).
Meanwhile, Bookslut’s Colleen Mondor reviews two map-related books at once: Reif Larsen’s much-ballyhooed novel, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, which she considers a young adult title thanks to the precocious 12-year-old title character; and Katherine Harmon’s new collection of 360 pieces of map-related art, The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography.
Readers may recognize Harmon from her 2004 collection, You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination. (It’s confusing to refer to two books sharing the title You Are Here in the same post.)
Previously: Colin Ellard’s Book on the Psychology of Navigation.
The USGS has released a map of the lower 48 United States showing its “standardized” terrestrial ecosystems. An interactive version is online here. The methodology behind the map is discussed in this article. From the press release:
Featuring higher resolution, this new map shows the distribution of 419 meso-scale (tens to thousands of hectares) ecosystems, each one with multiple “patch” occurrences. Previous ecosystem maps for the nation depicted 40-60 macro-scale (thousands to tens of thousands of hectares) ecological regions.
The ecosystem data used to create the map included separate data layers for vegetation regions, climate regions, landforms, geology, and surface moisture. These data input layers, representing the major structural elements of ecosystems, were then geospatially combined to produce the standardized ecosystems dataset and map.
An upcoming exhibition at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, Other Worlds: Rare Astronomical Works commemorates the International Year of Astronomy by “showcasing items from the center’s science collection that survey some of the most important astronomical discoveries of the last 500 years.” By no means is the exhibition focused solely on celestial cartography, but there will be some items of interest: “Highlights include the Coronelli celestial globe (1688); Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus (1543); first editions of works by Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton; and the first map of the moon.” At right: Cassini’s 1679 map of the Moon. The exhibition runs from September 8, 2009, to January 3, 2010. Via MapHist.