An article in The New York Times Magazine looks at online maps as popular entertainment: “[T]he really interesting stuff comes not from the massive compilation of information by a giant corporation” — i.e., Google — “but rather from the creative projects of smaller entities that find interesting ways to mine and tweak that information.”
For the second year running, I’ve compiled a list of The Map Room’s top
ten eleven best-selling map books. This list is based on Amazon orders made through this website that were tracked by my Amazon Associates account. Dark and sinister magic was used in the event of a tie. Because of a tie, there are eleven books on this year’s list, rather than ten.
Once again, this list is likely to reflect the amount of attenion I’ve paid to each title — in that you’d expect a book I blog about six times to do better than one I’ve only mentioned once — but in practice it’s not necessarily so. Books I reviewed nearly three years ago are still there, and books I’ve reviewed during the past year aren’t. In the end, and as I said last year, readers determined these rankings more than I did.
- National Geographic Atlas of the World, Ninth Edition. So … atlases apparently make great gifts! The ninth edition of National Geographic’s flagship atlas came out in October; my extremely obsessive review in November seems to have encouraged a few of you to buy one. (The eighth edition, now discounted, also sold well enough to make 16th place.) Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs. A late 2009 title that I guess continued to sell a lot of copies through the beginning of 2010; it was in first place on last year’s list. If you don’t know Strange Maps, what are you doing here? Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- From Here to There by Kris Harzinski. Nice and inexpensive collection of hand-drawn maps from contributors to the HDMA website. I reviewed From Here to There in October. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- The Map as Art by Katharine Harmon. Beautiful collection of map-related art, Harmon’s second book of the sort. In eighth place on 2009’s list. My review is horribly overdue. A paperback edition came out in September. Buy the hardcover at Amazon.com (Canada, UK). Buy the paperback at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester. Lester’s history of the Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world is a great read — I reviewed it in December 2009 — and it’s now out in paperback. It was in ninth place on last year’s list. Buy the hardcover at Amazon.com (Canada, UK). Buy the paperback at Amazon.com (Canada).
- MapArt Canada Back Roads Atlas. For a road atlas that was published in late 2007, this is a surprise: maps date quickly in this field. But MapArt’s compilation of regional maps from across Canada is a great value; I reviewed it in February 2008. Buy it at Amazon.com.
- OpenStreetMap by Frederik Ramm, Jochem Topf and Steve Chilton. One of two OSM manuals to be published this year; this is the first English version of a book that has seen three editions in German. A review is on my to-do list. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- Transit Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden. A book with staying power: first published in 2007, I reviewed it in March 2008. In sixth place on last year’s list. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- Lost States by Michael J. Trinklein. Self-published in 2008 (which is how I reviewed it), Lost States is now back in print with a new publisher, and selling well, it seems. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit. I mentioned this “collection of fanciful maps” earlier this month. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
- Texas: A Historical Atlas by A. Ray Stephens. Considering that I only blogged about this book nine days ago, I’m surprised to see it make the list. Buy it at Amazon.com (Canada, UK).
NASA’s Earth Observatory: “This image shows rainfall amounts over California from December 18 to 20, 2010. The heaviest rainfall — more than 200 millimeters or 7.8 inches — appears in dark blue.”
Brian Nunnery has been doodling maps of imaginary cities since he was in kindergarten. He’s amassed a collection of nearly 500 maps, and he’s been posting them to his website — 20 so far. The maps, says Brian, “evolve steadily in style over the years, and reflect my interests in different points of my youth. In early high school, for example, I had still never spent time exploring urban life –- so the city I drew consisted of middle class subdivisions and corporate shopping malls. After college, they consisted of high-density housing and mass transit systems.” I’m reminded once again that I drew maps like these by the dozen as a child; unlike Brian, I never kept them.
Previously: Adrian Leskiw’s Fictional Road Maps.
Data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) is leading to “the most precise and complete map to date of the moon’s complex, heavily cratered landscape,” NASA said last week.
The new LOLA maps are more accurate and sample more places on the lunar surface than any available before. “The positional errors of image mosaics of the lunar far side, where direct spacecraft tracking – the most accurate — is unavailable, have been one to ten kilometers (about 0.62 to 6.2 miles),” said [Dr. Gregory] Neumann. “We’re beating these down to the level of 30 meters (almost 100 feet) or less spatially and one meter (almost 3.3 feet) vertically. At the poles, where illumination rarely provides more than a glimpse of the topography below the crater peaks, we found systematic horizontal errors of hundreds of meters (hundreds of yards) as well.” In terms of coverage, the nearly three billion range measurements so far by LRO compare to about eight million to nine million each from three recent international lunar missions, according to Neumann. “They were limited to a mile or so between individual data points, whereas our measurements are spaced about 57 meters (about 187 feet) apart in five adjacent tracks separated by about 15 meters (almost 50 feet).”
Which is NASA-speak for “LOLA pwns Kaguya,” I guess. More here, including nice hemispheral views of the topographic maps.
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/MIT/SVS.
Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands is generating a lot of buzz — if nothing else, reviews keep turning up in my Google alerts. Subtitled Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will, the short book pairs hand-illustrated maps of the islands with short essays about them by Schalansky that from the reviews sound, shall we say, bigger than reality. Here are some reviews: The Oregonian, John Self (with photos of the pages), the Guardian, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A series of maps on NASA’s Earth Observatory site, covering every decade since the 1880s, shows how much the world’s temperatures have deviated from the reference period of 1951-1980. Above is the map for 2000 to 2009.
I’m only now finding out about Texas: A Historical Atlas, thanks to this profile of the book’s author, retired history professor A. Ray Stephens, in the Denton Record-Chronicle. The atlas follows up on the Historical Atlas of Texas, published 20 years ago, which Stephens co-authored. From the publisher: “Practically everything about this atlas is new. All of the essays have been updated to reflect recent scholarship, while more than 30 appear for the first time, addressing such subjects as the Texas Declaration of Independence, early roads, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Texas-Oklahoma boundary disputes, and the tideland oil controversy. A dozen new entries for ‘Contemporary Texas’ alone chart aspects of industry, agriculture, and minority demographics. Nearly all of the expanded essays are accompanied by multiple maps — every one in full color.”
This is interesting: a second edition of John Krygier’s guide to map design, Making Maps, is coming out in February or March of next year. I reviewed the first edition way back in March 2006. John Krygier says that this a major revision: “This is no weenie update: Denis and I ruthlessly reorganized and rethought every bit of content in the book. I then redesigned the entire book and spent the better part of eight months producing it. We both think it’s a much better book.” Krygier includes sample pages demonstrating this on the blog entry announcing the new edition.
This map by Facebook engineering intern Paul Butler that shows activity and relationships between various locations around the world. “I was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them.” Via Boing Boing.
And this map shows which social network dominates in which country. Creator Vincenzo Cosenza has maps for previous months as well for comparison. Via io9.
Researchers tested whether regional boundaries reflected natural human relationships by examining telephone call data in Great Britain. Based on the length and frequency of calls between locations, they were able to create regions based on those networks. From the abstract: “Our partitioning algorithm yields geographically cohesive regions that correspond remarkably well with administrative regions, while unveiling unexpected spatial structures that had previously only been hypothesized in the literature.” Read the full article here. Via io9.
NASA Earth Observatory has a map of hurricane tracks, rainfall and storm intensity for the 2010 season. “This image shows the paths taken by the storms and the rainfall associated with each storm throughout the season. The rainfall measurements are from the Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis, which is based on data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Although most of the major storms missed the continental United States, curving back out to sea instead, hurricanes and tropical storms did major damage to Haiti, eastern Mexico, and Central America.”
Popular Science pivots from the recent Nicaragua-Costa Rica border dispute to make a point about how digital maps are essentially commercial — rather than governmental or “official” cartography: “The incident raises some interesting issues concerning the future of mapmaking that, thus far, our brave new digital world hasn’t yet been forced to confront. Whereas cartography — particularly the act (or the art) of drawing political lines on geographical charts –- used to be the purview of nations and international bodies, commercial entities like Google, Bing, Mapquest, and other digital services are the principal mapmakers of the 21st century.” Interesting argument.
Historian Susan Schulten, writing for the New York Times’s online Opinionator feature, examines an 1861 map showing the distribution of the slave population in the southern states of the U.S., based on 1860 census data. This map, an early example, I think, of a value progression map, was, according to Schulten, extremely influential in its day. An annotated version looks at some of the map’s details; a PDF version is available for download. Via @mrgeog.
Last month, it was announced that OpenStreetMap would be getting its hands on Microsoft’s aerial imagery. (One way to make maps in OSM is to draw on top of aerial imagery. Yahoo’s imagery has been made available for that purpose, but it’s is incomplete and a bit dated.) The new Bing imagery is now available through Potlatch 2 — sooner than I expected. And Potlatch 2 is now available through the regular OpenStreetMap site: you have to hover over the “Edit” tab to select it from a pull-down menu.
I’ve spent the last two days playing with both — i.e., creating maps with Bing aerial imagery using Potlatch 2. While there are places where the Microsoft imagery does not offer any advantage over Yahoo’s, there are lots of places where Bing’s imagery is more recent and at higher resolution. And there are lots of places that now have imagery that is worth tracing over that did not before. Locations that were basically unmapped in OSM now have one less excuse. (To be sure, many places with good imagery had no maps as well, but that’s a differet issue — volunteers, government data import, whatever.)
Potlatch 2 is noticeably improved over the public alpha (previously). There are definitely some areas in which it’s an order of magnitude better than the original Potlatch, but there are still some gaps — some tags I use a lot are now a lot harder to find, and line directions are invisible, so far as I can tell, on things other than one-way streets (think rivers). I don’t think it’s any less stable, so on balance I prefer using it to its predecessor.
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at why OpenStreetMap has been getting attention (and resources) from two large, and very commercial, mapping providers: Bing (Microsoft) and MapQuest (AOL). “For Microsoft and AOL’s MapQuest unit, OpenStreetMap presents an opportunity to build new local services or develop new business models while skirting the costs and terms associated with licensed data from the commercial providers. The two companies are estimated to pay Navteq tens of millions of dollars a year for its map data.” Via OpenGeoData.
Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art, an exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art that I first told you about in September, has been reviewed in the New York Times. “The works in this terrific exhibition offer so many takes on the subject that you feel your personal definition of cartography exploding as you walk — with no map to guide you — through the galleries.”
Previously: Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art.
Abel Buell’s 1784 New and Correct Map of North America (see previous entry) went for a lot more than expected at auction: $1.8 million. WestportNow takes a curious look at the auction by profiling the map dealer who lost the auction (the local angle).
Previously: Rare 1784 Map of the U.S. Being Auctioned Next Month.
It’s been talked about in the Canadian media for some time now, but, as Google LatLong reported yesterday, Google Maps’s bicycling layer for Canadian cities — Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Ottawa-Gatineau (including a bike trail out in my area), and Toronto — is now live. The bike routes are colour-coded: “Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail; lighter green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road; and the dotted green line indicates roads that do not have bike lanes but tend to be suitable for biking.”
Pistil SF makes custom map blankets and napkins. The blankets are fleece, the napkins (coming in 2011) are cotton, and the maps are based on OSM data (you tell them what you want mapped). At $175 for the blanket, not cheap, but custom work hardly ever is. Via James Fee.
Oh look: two blogs about mapping other bodies in the solar system by planetary scientist Paul Schenk: Dr. Schenk’s 3D House of Satellites, about stereo, perspective and topographic maps of moons and dwarf planets (thanks to recent Cassini data, Saturn ends up with most of the attention); and Atlas of the Galilean Satellites, promoting the author’s book of the same name that compiles maps and mosaics of Jupiter’s four largest moons. Via @geoparadigm.
San Francisco Public Press covers the launch of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit. “The collection of fanciful maps of the city combines disparate but creatively juxtaposed items such as World War II shipyards and African-American political and musical landmarks,” says the article. “The book is part of a project started as a collaboration for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 75th anniversary celebration.” From the publisher: “Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place.”