National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Andrew Evans stops by National Geographic’s map division in this short video; it’s a bit of a puff piece (“best place on Earth for maps” and all that) but an interesting, if brief, look behind the scenes at mapmaking. Flash required for the video. Via @geoparadigm.
Via Cartophilia: this wallet showing a map of the Chicago transit system is made from Tyvek.
io9 has produced a map of the world’s natural disaster hot zones. “Most of the disasters we’ve highlighted here are caused by nature, and only occasionally helped along by humans. … How did we decide where disaster hot zones were? By looking at previous incidents of disaster in a given region, as well as places where fault lines and giant gobs of magma wait under the Earth for the perfect time to spew. Of course these kinds of forward-looking statements are subject to change.”
Google Earth 6, released today in beta, includes improvements to how Street View and historical imagery are integrated, plus 3D trees. Yes, trees: species-accurate but not necessarily individual-tree-accurate. (Stefan says: “The rest of Google Earth is pretty much the same, a sign that this application is maturing.”) All the details at Google LatLong, Google Earth Blog, Ogle Earth.
GSU Magazine, which I think is the alumni magazine of Georgia State University, has a short article about geographer Jeremy Crampton’s research on the work of cartographers in the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA) during World War II. Note the cameo appearance by Arthur Robinson. Via MapHist.
A one-of-a-kind map of northeastern North America created in 1699 by well-known cartographer John Thornton was discovered in a house in rural Scotland after the death of the house’s owner. The 68×80 cm vellum map, which shows details of Newfoundland fishing villages, the east coast of the American colonies, and Hudson Bay, will be auctioned in January and is expected to fetch up to £80,000. This Is Somerset (via MapHist); National Post.
“Is [this] where we’ve ended up, with a younger generation that can’t go three blocks without being told by a electronic voice where to turn?” asks Jeff Stricker in Saturday’s Star Tribune. Another one of those GPS-vs.-paper-maps pieces we see from time to time in the press.
Previously: The Passing of the Navigator.
Once again, to help with your gift shopping, I’ve compiled a list of noteworthy books about maps that were published in 2010. There are 10 books on the list this year: they include new atlases, web mapping manuals, a history of the Ordnance Survey, curated collections of maps, and scholarly studies of the use and power of maps.
The list can be found in three places: here for Canada, here for the U.K., and here for the U.S. — choose the one that best suits your location. Sales from these pages generate affiliate revenue for this blog; you may have noticed that I’ve started adding Amazon referral links for their Canadian and U.K. operations, which is why everything is now in triplicate.
As was the case last year, I haven’t seen all of these books, but I’ve reviewed two of them so far and am likely to review two more.
Some books didn’t make this list through no fault of their own: GIS manuals are too specialized for a mainstream audience (I almost didn’t include the OSM manuals and Map Scripting 101 for the same reason, but figured that web mapping was of interest beyond the geospatial industry), and a new edition of Oxford’s Atlas of the World — now in its 17th edition (Canada, U.K.) — is an annual affair. And one significant wrinkle: Rachel Hewitt’s Map of a Nation, her history of the Ordnance Survey, isn’t available in the U.S. or Canada.
Previously: Map Books of 2009.
David Sparks’s isarithmic history of the two-party vote, which adds gradations to choropleth maps of U.S. presidential election results, has been making the enthusiastic rounds of the Internets this week (Daring Fireball, MetaFilter, Talking Points Memo). The above video, which animates those maps to show nearly a century of presidential politics in just over a minute, is particularly dramatic. That said, David’s other work is also worth a look, including his attempt at k-means redistricting — redrawing electoral districts based on a minimum mean distance from each district’s centre — a link to which he sent me last month and I’ve been saving for you.
Eddie Jabbour writes to let us know about an event at the Museum of the City of New York on December 7 about designing New York subway maps “for the riding public.” Featuring John Tauranac and Massimo Vignelli in addition to Jabbour — subway map designers all. Reservations required; tickets run from $6 to $12.
If you’re at all interested in the process of changing pejorative place names to something more acceptable to the present day — the sort of thing covered by Mark Monmonier’s From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow — then you’ll be interested in this story from the Medford Mail Tribune: The Oregon Geographic Names Board, directed in 2001 to remove the word “squaw” from place names in the state, has decided against a blanket replacement of more than 100 remaining uses of the term with “Indian Maiden”; instead, the Board will work on a case-by-case basis to replace the names based on tribal proposals.
Previously: Review: From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow.
On The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Postcards blog, Lawrence Biemiller has a chat with James Akerman about the history of road maps in the United States.
National Geographic Atlas of the World, Ninth Edition
National Geographic, 2010. Hardcover with slipcase, 424 pp. ISBN 978-1-4262-0634-4.
National Geographic’s world atlases go in a different direction than other world atlases on the market. Instead of a relief map palette that is found virtually everywhere else, National Geographic maps are both minimalist and, for the most part, political: land is white except for coloured country outlines. (They’re also the most obvious example of the four-colour theorem in practice.) I know that the style is not to everyone’s taste, but I actually prefer it. I’ve also found that you can pack a lot more detail, legibly, onto a map in a National Geographic style than you can on a coloured relief map.
The ninth edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World comes five years after the eighth edition. Despite a new cover design, a change in the map titles’ typeface and considerable changes under the hood, the ninth edition does not represent a radical departure from the eighth. In this review, I’m going to compare the two editions rather closely to give you a sense of what has, in fact, changed.
What hasn’t changed is the sheer size of this atlas. At 47.2 × 31.6 cm (without the slipcase), it’s exactly the same size as the eighth edition; it’s also taller by two centimetres than the Times Comprehensive Atlas and more than 10 centimetres taller than the Oxford Atlas of the World. All of these atlases are unwieldy, and need ample table space to be used — the National Geographic atlas is just the biggest and the unwieldiest. Trying to open up this atlas in your lap, or in your hands standing up, is just asking for it. (And if you think wrangling one atlas is fun, try wrangling two of them at once for the purposes of a review.)
In this post (reprinted on io9), Adam Whitehead discusses the size of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. One map shows just how big Westeros is: “about 3,000 miles (or 1,000 leagues) from the Wall to the south coast of Dorne.” Another map (at right) overlays Westeros over a map of Europe for comparison. Again: big. Like the series.
Previously: Maps of Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire.”
On GIS Lounge, Caitlin has a review of Jonathan Bennett’s OpenStreetMap: Be Your Own Cartographer, which she calls “an excellent reference volume for anyone wanting to become involved with this wiki-style geographic data collection project.”
Previously: Another OpenStreetMap Book.
Another exhibition of hand-drawn maps is now under way in the Philadelphia area: Nowhere: Selections from the Files of the Hand Drawn Map Association runs until December 19, 2010 at Arcadia University’s art gallery.
Curated by HDMA founder Kris Harzinski, the exhibition uses over sixty drawings to demonstrate the unique capacity of the hand drawn map to create sites (both graphic and virtual) where writing and depiction, documentation and fiction coincide to articulate locations otherwise beyond reach. The exhibition features works by artists from around the world as well as drawings by individuals based in the Philadelphia region, including Ryan Anderson, Becky Blosser, Keith Garcia, Andrew Herman, Jennifer McTague Janell Olah, Krista Shaffer and Perry Steindel.
An extremely rare copy of Abel Buell’s New and Correct Map of North America (1784), one of only seven known to exist, is being auctioned by Christie’s on December 3. Buell’s map is the first map of the United States to be published in America; it also shows the U.S. flag for the first time on a map. The auction house expects the map to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000. The map has been owned by the New Jersey Historical Society since 1862; no word on why the Society is selling it. Via MapHist.
An animated look at a thousand years of European history through changes in the political map. Pity it’s cropped and doesn’t indicate the years. Thanks to Heather Kinsinger for the link.
Google’s switch to its own map data, compiled from various sources, for the United States and Canada has not been without its problems, but this week the company has made the switch in 10 more countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland. (Yes, Liechtenstein — what, was Luxembourg holding out on them?) Hilarity will no doubt ensue in the short term, but keep in mind that this is clearly a long-term play on Google’s part.
GPS Tracklog reports that GPS receivers from Magellan, Mio and Navman — all owned by MiTAC — are switching from Navteq to Tele Atlas as their map provider. Since TomTom owns Tele Atlas, does that mean that Garmin is the only major manufacturer of car-based GPS navigation devices that still uses Navteq?
This image maps sulphur dioxide emissions from the erupting Mount Merapi volcano in Indonesia: “This image shows concentrations of sulfur dioxide on November 4–8, 2010, as observed by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura spacecraft. Sulfur dioxide is measured here in Dobson Units: The greatest concentrations appear in dark red-brown; the lowest in light peach.”
A fourth collection of maps has been published by Black Dog: Mapping America: Exploring the Continent by Fritz Kessler. (The previous volumes are 2007’s Mapping London and 2008’s Mapping England, both by Simon Foxell, and Mapping New York, edited by Duncan McCorquodale, which came out last year.) From the publisher’s catalogue:
Featuring four centuries of maps that depict the changing landscape of North America, Mapping America charts the continent through numerous landmark events and uprisings, including the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and more recent concerns, such as the environment and terrorism. From early maps depicting the country’s colonial beginnings, through to contemporary maps depicting America today, the book presents the reader with a multi-faceted view of the North American physical and cultural landscape; from maps showing the electoral routes of Presidential campaigns, to the diminishing native communities shown in census maps, to the artistic, the imaginative and fantastic depictions of contemporary America.
Two more GIS books to mention: Web GIS: Principles and Applications by Pinde Fu and Jiulin Sun, from Esri Press (via Esri Mapping Center); and Spatial Analysis and Modeling in Geographical Transformation Process, edited by Y. Murayama and Rajesh Bahadur Thapa, from Springer (via @MattArtz).
Nicola Twilley explains how to make your own scratch-and-sniff map. “The first step, of course, is to decide what smells you are mapping.” Oh dear.
China’s new, official Map World service has annoyed the Vietnamese government (press release) because it shows the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands as Chinese territory. Remember, kids: one country’s official boundaries are another country’s diplomatic insult.
Previously: Map World: Online Maps for China.
3-D Starmaps is a website by Winchell Chung about science fiction star maps: it has resources for science fiction writers interested in generating their own star maps (including how to plot them on a three-dimensional grid), discusses the real-world locations of fictional planets, and, well, has maps: Winchell’s own maps of the Milky Way and links to maps of science fiction universes. Via io9.
Ogle Earth has done some digging into the history of the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border — disputes over which date back to the 1850s — and comes to the following conclusion:
Given all this information, we can conclude that the narrative currently dominating the internet is wrong: Nicaragua did not mistakenly enter Costa Rican territory because it relied on Google Maps. [Nicaraguan president Daniel] Ortega’s justification for Nicaragua’s actions appeal to documents from the 19th century; [Edén] Pastora’s mention of Google Maps is just a taunt.
This has to do with recent dredging of the Rio San Juan, not Google’s map data. And Stefan also notes that Bing’s map data in the area isn’t all that precise either. Worth reading in full.
Cameron Booth writes: “A while ago, you featured my U.S. Interstates as London Underground Diagram poster on The Map Room. Along a similar line, here’s a link to my latest project: a subway-style map of Amtrak’s passenger rail routes. It shows every station and also clearly shows which routes serve them, using the familiar color-coding of a subway map. (Neither of which Amtrak’s current, geographically accurate service map does!)”
Previously: U.S. Interstates as Tube Map.
For most of the past year, the International Cartographic Association has had a Map of the Month section on its website that has featured maps and atlases from public institutions and private publishers from around the world. “At the moment the Map of the Month section features all winners of the map exhibition of International Cartographic Conferences (ICC),” says the site; we’ll see where it goes from there. Via MAPS-L.
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a profile of Bing Maps architect Blaise Agüera y Arcas that focuses less on the horse-race aspects of Bing’s competition with the Google and more on Agüera’s idiosyncratic creative methodology. Interesting.
Benjamin Hennig has plotted the results of the U.S. congressional elections on a population-based cartogram (which evens out the very large, sparsely populated districts with the small, densely populated urban districts that don’t show up well on a geographical map). There are cartograms for the Senate and governors’ races, too, but they’re less dramatic. Via @worldmapper.
Nicaraguan troops crossed the border into Costa Rica and raised the Nicaraguan flag; the commander apparently cited erroneous maps from Google that showed the territory as belonging to Nicaragua: About.com Geography, Fast Company, Search Engine Land. (The border is shown correctly in Bing Maps.) Google says that they got the erroneous border data from the U.S. State Department, and they’re working on a fix.
This has led to a certain amount of Schadenfreude on Twitter from representatives of competing map providers, which I think is ill-advised. There but for the grace of God, etc. — which is to say that it could have easily been your maps, and probably will be at some point. You don’t see airlines chortling about their competitors’ crashes, do you?
The Harvard Crimson reports on an exhibition at the Harvard Map Collection that looks at “cartographic curiosities”: Rev. Badger’s Misfits: Deviations and Diversions runs until January 5, 2011 at the Pusey Library. One highlight, cited both in the Crimson article and in the press release, is an 18th-century map of Schlaraffenland; “[o]ther items included in the exhibition include a facsimile of Sebastian Adams’ ‘chronological chart of ancient, modern and biblical history’ — a 24-foot long timeline depicting all of human history, from 4004 B.C. until 1881 and an 1834 map satirizing Dutch university life, in which students must pass through the Mountains of Mathematics before entering nations representing scholarly disciplines like philosophy, medicine and literature.”
Stephen Von Worley has some fun reversing the distortions of the Mercator projection, which exaggerates the size of things at the poles in order to achieve consistent compass bearings. He imagines what would happen if Greenland was on the equator and Africa in the Arctic, and goes on to do the same thing with Alaska and Texas and with the U.K. and Cuba. Freaky.
The New York Times’s election results maps — House, Senate, gubernatorial — are, as usual, awesome. Pickups are clearly indicated, so you can see at a glance what’s changed. You can drill down to county-level results easily, and a county bubble map feature compensates for the fact that some counties are much, much larger than others (otherwise you might be hard pressed to see why, for example, Sharron Angle or Christine O’Donnell lost without looking at the raw numbers — they won all the small counties but lost one or two big ones). Detailed, immersive, easy to use — really well done overall.
Bing Maps updates announced earlier this week: bird’s-eye aerial views will soon be available without requiring a Silverlight plugin, and the current 3D maps control will be removed.
GPS Tracklog has a two-part review of the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w GPS receiver and SPOT satellite communicator combo: the SPOT review went up last month; the PN-60w review showed up this morning. The SPOT communicator allows you to send text messages or an SOS from remote areas; Rich calls this “almost a must have for those of us venturing far off the beaten track.” As for the PN-60w, it’s comparable in performance to recent Garmin units (Oregon 450, GPSMAP 62 series) but has a smaller screen; he’s also reluctant to recommend it to first-time GPS buyers.
Constructed Territory, an art exhibition by “artists who incorporate maps, cartography, and topographical examination into their work,” runs until January 9, 2011, at Wright State University’s Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries in Dayton, Ohio.
This exhibit will feature 32 artists working in photography, digital and mixed media, sculpture, drawing, printmaking and book arts. As a system of diagramed information, maps define locations, orient the viewer, graph terrain, and delineate borders. Maps traditionally present regions of space, which are transformed into condensed descriptive visual references. Borrowing from the universal language of maps and cartographic techniques, the artists in Constructed Territory examine and redefine the established conventions of our understanding and connection to place.
Cartographic historian Seymour I. Schwartz, who previously donated his map collection to the University of Virginia, apparently had a few maps left over for the university in whose medical school he taught: he has donated 40 maps and drawings of western New York, including the first map printed in the colony of New York (1723), to the University of Rochester. An exhibition of the collection will open at the University’s Rush Rhees Library on November 11. Three of the maps can be viewed in high resolution here. (Photo credit: University of Rochester.)
James Fee reviews Map Scripting 101 by Adam DuVander (previously). “I was totally turned off by the use of the open source Mapstraction library. But what do you know … I’m a total convert now for beginners looking to get started in web mapping. […] [I]t is clear that Adam is a great writer who is excited about technology and it shows. The book is very accessible for beginners and even intermediates who might want to get more familiar with Mapstraction. Adam should be very proud of his book as I think he’s done a superb job on it.”