January 2011

Wendy Gold’s Globes

Wendy Gold globes

Laura L. Sweet looks at globes by Wendy Gold. “The ‘Imagine Nation’ globes are handmade using vintage globes whose geography is no longer accurate. Wendy finds, cuts and creates the art that she then decoupages onto the old globes. From Superheros to Rock and Roll, each is one of a kind. She also takes on commissions. The globes vary in size from the small novelty bank globes to the larger traditional 30" diameter globes. Prices range from $99-$300.” Via MAPS-L.

New York Subway Map as Musical Instrument

Alexander Chen’s “Conductor” recreates the New York subway map as a musical instrument, with subway lines as pluckable strings. It’s based on Vignelli’s 1972 subway map, which makes sense for this kind of project. It’s a work in progress, and we can’t play with it yet, but he’s got a couple of videos. This one demonstrates the piece:

And this one has the strings triggered by passing subway trains:

Via Google Maps Mania.

LA Times Reviews Infinite City

Book cover: Infinite City The Los Angeles Times has a review of Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.

“Infinite City” examines that San Francisco, a physically compact place that contains multitudes, through a series of elegantly rendered maps and cleverly researched and well-wrought essays conceived by more than a dozen writers, cartographers and artists. … They collectively, and intricately, render the 47-square-mile-city in 22 maps that glimpse the city through the prisms of politics, ideology, agriculture, social justice, film, counterculture, toxic dumps, shipyards, industry, the Wild West of identity (ethnic, sexual) and more.

I have a copy in hand; with any luck a review will be coming soon.

Previously: Infinite City: A “Fanciful” Atlas of San Francisco.

Map Projections Applied to Photos

Mollweide by Seb Przd

Seb Perez-Duarte shoots spherical panoramic photographs. In this photoset, he applies cartographic projections to those spherical images (above, for example, is the Mollweide projection). This is easily the most brilliantly unorthodox way I’ve seen yet of demonstrating what map projections do to spherical objects — peeling an orange can only go so far. Via WhereCamp; see also MetaFilter.

Mapping Latin America

Book cover: Mapping Latin America Via MapHist, news of a new book coming in April from the University of Chicago Press: Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader, edited by Jordana Dym and Karl Offen, who “bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplines to examine and interpret more than five centuries of Latin American maps. Individual chapters take on maps of every size and scale and from a wide variety of mapmakers — from the hand-drawn maps of Native Americans, to those by famed explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt, to those produced in today’s newspapers and magazines for the general public.”

Defense Department Testing to Affect GPS Signals in Southeastern U.S.

FAA Flight Advisory Map

Engadget passes on a Federal Aviation Administration advisory (PDF) that, due to Defense Department testing, GPS signals may be “unreliable or unavailable” within several hundred miles of a point off the coast of Florida and Georgia for brief periods between January 20 and February 22, 2011. The advisory is aimed at pilots, but we can surmise that terrestrial GPS usage — admittedly less a matter of life or death than aviation — might be affected as well. The radius affected increases with altitude: 370 nautical miles (685 km) at 40,000 feet (FL400, 12,200 m), falling to 215 nautical miles (398 km) at 4,000 feet (1,220 m).

Flooding in Queensland, Australia

Earth Observatory: Flooding in Australia: Rockhampton, QLD

NASA’s Earth Observatory has a number of high-resolution satellite images of the floods in Queensland, Australia.

Nearmap managed to get an even closer look at the flooding, with two-centimetre-resolution imagery taken on January 13 and 14. ABC News (Australia) has a very neat infographic where you can slide between photos of the flooded areas and photos taken before the flooding. Flood imagery is available directly on Nearmap’s website, where you can select aerial imagery by date for comparison. More on the Nearmap images from the Brisbane Times. Via Google Maps Mania, @HodderGeography and Slashgeo.

Via Google Maps Mania: Above Photography’s aerial photography of the floods.

Google also has some map resources. Some links from Google Maps Mania.

An Item on Chinese Online Maps

Two items of note in this article from the China Daily: first, that China’s official online mapping service, Map World, is now out of beta (I wasn’t aware that it was in beta in the first place); and second, that after July 1 “administrative action” will be taken against unlicenced map services. “More than 100 domestic and overseas companies that provide online mapping services have received licenses to continue doing business in China, while another 100 were still applying for a license, a senior official said on Tuesday.” No word on whether any familiar companies haven’t received one yet. Via All Points Blog.

Previously: Map World: Online Maps for China; Vietnam Objects to Map World’s Boundaries; An Update on Google Maps in China.

Macworld on iPhone GPS Apps

Macworld takes a look at 11 iPhone GPS apps, following up on a similar article from a year ago (that I somehow seem to have missed). Compared with last year, Glenn Fleishman writes,

Most apps have gone through substantial revisions and improvements, with notable fixes to iPod music control, performance, and address recognition. Still, some basic problems in user interface and finding addresses remain. A few apps haven’t been updated in several months or longer, lacking full iOS compatibility and support. Others retain clunky interfaces borrowed from standalone GPS hardware with vastly less capability than iOS devices.

Major developments include iOS 4 multitasking and, for some apps, iPad versions (the 3G iPad has GPS).

NJ Historical Society Criticized for Selling Map

The New Jersey Historical Society is catching flak for auctioning off its copy of Abel Buell’s 1784 map of North America last month, the Star-Ledger reports. Apparently selling items to pay for operations — or, in the case of the Society, to go towards retiring its $2.6 million debt — is a violation of the code of ethics of the American Association of Museums. The Society’s annual grant has also been eliminated due to state budget cuts, so they’re clearly starving for cash. The Buell map the only item being sold off; the Society’s board president says all the items are extraneous to their mandate.

Previously: Rare 1784 Map of the U.S. Being Auctioned Next Month; Buell’s 1784 Map Fetches $1.8 Million.

Eve Bailey

Eve Bailey Eve Bailey’s recent drawings are, she says, “inspired by the similarities between the infrastructure systems of cities and the human anatomy. I am specifically interested by the organic nature of architectural renderings. The iconography used for urban planning intersects with some modes of representation in drawings of the human morphology. I love how interwoven grids echo muscle tissues. Patterns for buildings evoke cells. Lines and symbols for roads and bridges recall arteries and tendons.”

Haiti One Year Later


It’s been one year since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, and governments and NGOs are continuing to respond, many using high-resolution images of the area. To support these efforts, we’ve updated our aerial imagery in Google Earth of the Port-au-Prince area to include images from before and after the earthquake, as well as made updates throughout 2010. These pictures provide an evolving view of the movement of people, supplies and rubble.

The imagery is available through Google Earth’s historical imagery feature. In addition, the New York Times has taken that imagery and produced an interactive map that allows you to see, very quickly, the differences at several key sites around Port-au-Prince before and after the earthquake as well as one year on (via @HodderGeography).

TomTom on Smartphones and Standalone GPS Devices, Redux

The last time we heard from Tom Murray, TomTom’s senior vice president of market development, he said that GPS-enabled smartphones had “no market impact” on the sales of standalone GPS navigation devices. It’s been six months. In a chat with The Unofficial Apple Weblog, TomTom Tom’s tune is now a little different: GPS smartphones have had an impact on standalone devices, but the smartphone market is “complementary” — they’re selling apps for the iPhone, for example, and that’s a growth business for them — and there are still way more dedicated devices out there than smartphones. Let’s see what he says in another six months.

In the Crosshairs

Sarah Palin's crosshairs map, The Stranger's crosshairs map

A map was at the centre of a major news story in the United States this week. Within hours of the news that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (among others, to be sure) had been shot at a constituency meeting in Tucson, Arizona, copies of a map from Sarah Palin’s political action committee, first released a year ago, began circulating online in response. The map targeted for defeat 20 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted for health care reform but who represented districts carried by McCain-Palin in 2008 — and it did so with crosshairs. Rep. Giffords was one of those members, and in the anger and confusion that followed the shootings, it was very easy for some to see in the map a call that was taken a little too literally by the shooter. There’s been an awful lot of debate since that weekend about rhetoric and responsibility — and what the map really meant (surveyor’s marks?!) — that I won’t get into here; I just feel it’s necessary for me to note the role of the map’s design in the ensuing fracas.

And I should also note a map that has been made in response to the SarahPAC map: a remix by alternative weekly The Stranger showing political assassination attempts — successful and otherwise — going back as far as Lincoln (via Andrew Sullivan).

Weekly World News: Atlantis Found in Google Maps!

Only the Weekly World News could bring you the story that the lost city of Atlantis has been found on Google Maps.

“The photo taken by Google Maps is most definitely the Lost City of Atlantis,” said Yale Mythologist Anthony Braxwell. “It displays all the trademark characteristics of the legendary metropolis. A shimmering castle, glistening drawbridges made of gold, crystal spires — yep, it’s all there.”
“I’m just surprised it took so long to find,” added Braxwell.

Atlantis is, apparently, in plain sight 10 miles southwest of Dingle, Ireland. (No word on whether Bat Boy has been spotted on the town’s streets.)

“I’ve lived here for 75 years,” said Brian MacElhose, a farmer and lifelong resident of Dingle, “and never noticed that gigantic city floating out there in the ocean. How could I have missed it? Oh well, I guess that’s what Google Maps is for.”

There’s a bonus in the search results for the “screenshot” of Atlantis in Street View — see if you can catch it.

Aerosols in Earth’s Atmosphere

Aerosols map (NASA)

NASA’s Earth Observatory has this map of aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere, based on MODIS data from August 2010. “Dust storms, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and salt spray from the winds over the ocean are the most common and abundant producers of aerosols. Humans generate them, too, through the burning of fossil fuels, manufacturing processes, and fires for cooking, heating, and agricultural clearing. … Yellow areas are predominantly coarse particles, like dust and sea salt, while red areas are mainly fine aerosols from smoke or pollution. Gray indicates areas with no data. The brighter or more intense the color, the higher the concentration of aerosols.”

Previously: Mapping Global Fine-Particulate Matter Levels.

Urban Geofiction: Maps of Made-Up Cities

Urban Geofiction: Wittersberg (Johannes Bouchain)

Here’s another great website about maps of places that only exist in the minds of the mapmakers. Urban Geofiction is a collection of maps of imaginary cities by divers hands. Some maps are hand-drawn, some are produced to such a high quality — such as Johannes Bouchain’s maps of Forberg and Wittersberg (above) — that, absent any context, I’d be hard pressed to believe they weren’t real. You should know by now just how much I love this stuff. Via @BibliOdyssey.

Previously: Brian Nunnery’s Map Collection; Adrian Leskiw’s Fictional Road Maps.

The World BBQ

World BBQ Yes, the World BBQ is “a symbol of human consumption of natural resources”; yes, it’s a metaphor for rising global temperatures. But we still think it’s cool (if you’ll pardon the ironic pun), and we want one. Via Make.

New Space for the BPL’s Leventhal Center

The Boston Globe on the Boston Public Library’s $1.8-million makeover that will create a new repository and exhibition space for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. “Details being considered include a large digital globe with touch-screen features; a ‘pop-up’ table orienting newcomers to Boston’s rich history and unique geography; large-screen digital displays of maps and other materials; specialized display cases for the collection’s most prized assets; and a map club for kids.” To be completed by next fall, which sounds optimistic if things haven’t been finalized. Via MapHist.

Previously: Leventhal Does RSS, Flickr; The Boston Globe on the Leventhal Map Center; Leventhal Map Center Web Site Launches.

Michael Zeiler’s Solar Eclipse Map Website

Eclipse map: Partial eclipse for Jan. 4, 2011

Michael Zeiler, GIS professional by day, eclipse mapper by night — last April I blogged about his map of solar eclipses from 2010 to 2050 — is back with a whole website dedicated to solar eclipse maps. The site, Zeiler writes, “has over 1,000 historical eclipse maps and about 300 newly published eclipse maps, including maps for tomorrow’s partial solar eclipse and the solar eclipse which will bisect North America in 2017.” It’s still under construction, and several sections are still unfinished, but I’m already in love with the history section full of scans of those historical eclipse maps.

Previously: Another Solar Eclipse Map; Eclipse Maps.