Streetwise Maps, which has been publishing laminated maps of city centres around the world, is apparently closing up shop. In a statement posted to their website over the weekend (according to the Wayback Machine), Michael and Andrika Brown say as much:
Frankly, we’re pooped.
So now, after all the miles, all the notes, all the sketches and the reams of research material, it’s finally time to set aside the tools and retire (cue the band, release the confetti!!). It’s time for a new adventure.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this and to all of you who came along on the journey, this fiesta of a life. We are forever grateful.
No other details or word on how the business will be wound up. Streetwise Maps products are still available in stores (Amazon link), at least for the time being. [MAPS-L]
Another profile of ocean cartographer Marie Tharp, this time from Smithsonian.com’s Erin Blakemore. As Blakemore recounts, Tharp crunched and mapped the sonar sounding data collected by her collaborator, Bruce Heezen; her calculations revealed a huge valley in the middle of a ridge in the North Atlantic seafloor.
“When I showed what I found to Bruce,” she recalled, “he groaned and said ‘It cannot be. It looks too much like continental drift.’ … Bruce initially dismissed my interpretation of the profiles as ‘girl talk’.” It took almost a year for Heezen to believe her, despite a growing amount of evidence and her meticulous checking and re-checking of her work. He only changed his mind when evidence of earthquakes beneath the rift valley she had found was discovered—and when it became clear that the rift extended up and down the entire Atlantic. Today, it is considered Earth’s largest physical feature.
When Heezen—who published the work and took credit for it—announced his findings in 1956, it was no less than a seismic event in geology. But Tharp, like many other women scientists of her day, was shunted to the background.
I really ought to get to Hali Felt’s 2012 biography of Tharp, Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, at some point. Amazon (Kindle), iBooks.
Everything Flows is an interactive online map that shows how much water comes into, is consumed in and flows out of Germany.
“Water flows” does not only refer to the hydrological processes related to natural watercourses. The project also answers the following questions: How much water flows through Germany in terms of natural, artificial and virtual flows? What are the different ways in which water is used and for what? Who uses it and why? And how much water flows out of Germany—physically and virtually?
Ever since Garmin announced it was purchasing DeLorme last February, there has been considerable anxiety in Maine over the possibility that the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer would be discontinued. Everyone in Maine can now relax: Garmin has announced that it’s keeping DeLorme’s entire Atlas and Gazetteer line of paper atlases.
“As a part of the acquisition earlier this year and subsequent integration efforts, Garmin recently completed its analysis of DeLorme’s Atlas & Gazetteer business. We have concluded that these venerated, highly respected products will not only remain as a part of Garmin’s offering, but will continue to be enhanced in the coming months and years,” said Ted Gartner, director of corporate communications for Garmin.
“Because the DeLorme name is so well-known and closely associated with the unique feature set and style of the Atlas & Gazetteers, which combines digital cartography with human editing, the product line will continue under the same iconic brand and familiar appearance. Furthermore, we will be revising and updating the atlas series in the coming years, by investing in additional resources and cartography staff based in the Yarmouth facility, formerly the DeLorme headquarters,” Gartner added.
Map Men is a YouTube series by comedians Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones. It’s funny as hell, and quite informative too: it’s two silly people being very smart about often-silly cartographical situations. Six episodes so far; I hope they make more. [Geographical]
Uncharted Atlas is a Twitter bot that generates a new fantasy map every hour. The brainchild of glaciologist Martin O’Leary, it uses algorithmically created terrain that is weathered by water erosion, a process he details on this page (All Over the Map’s post explains it in more human-readable terms). As Martin writes:
I wanted to make maps that look like something you’d find at the back of one of the cheap paperback fantasy novels of my youth. I always had a fascination with these imagined worlds, which were often much more interesting than whatever luke-warm sub-Tolkien tale they were attached to.
At the same time, I wanted to play with terrain generation with a physical basis. There are loads of articles on the internet which describe terrain generation, and they almost all use some variation on a fractal noise approach, either directly (by adding layers of noise functions), or indirectly (e.g. through midpoint displacement). These methods produce lots of fine detail, but the large-scale structure always looks a bit off. Features are attached in random ways, with no thought to the processes which form landscapes. I wanted to try something a little bit different.
The code is available for playing with, and apparently other people are doing just that. Another algorithm—one that linguists should find fascinating—generates the place names.
The fantasy maps that get the most popular and critical attention are those of Middle-earth and Westeros. That’s almost entirely due to their respective series’ popularity (and in the case of Middle-earth, the foundational nature of that map and its influence on later works). Maps of Robert Jordan’s hugely popular Wheel of Time series don’t get quite the same attention—a situation that Adam Whitehead, writing on his Atlas of Ice and Fire blog, tries to rectify. Reading his post, I suspect that the afterthought-ish nature of said maps might have something to do with it.
Apparently Robert Jordan did not originally plan to include maps in the books, and did so only at the urging of his publisher Tom Doherty because people expected maps in a fantasy novel. This may be why the earliest maps for the books were pretty bare-bones, only featuring the names of the major countries, the two big mountain ranges and not much else. It may also explain the curiously straight mountain range edges to the map border which later came in for much ribbing from reviewers.
(Sidebar: In the talk on fantasy maps I gave at Readercon in July 2014 I noted the difference in map quality between the paperback editions of The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt; the second map is of considerably lower quality, but has the virtue of being more legible at mass-market paperback size.)
Interchange Choreography is a collection of maps of complicated highway interchanges by Chicago-based designer Nicholas Rougeux. “Applying colors to roads and using connecting roads to blend those colors adds structure and breathes new life in to areas that are often avoided for their complexity. The results resemble everything from dancers to otherworldly creatures.”
New Jersey’s interchanges look particularly complicated: