Oxford geography professor Danny Dorling spoke at the TEDx Exeter conference in April 2016. If you’re familiar with Dorling’s work, it will come as no surprise that he makes extensive use of cartograms to describe the world’s population. Video: TED, YouTube.
Last June I told you about Constantine Konovalov’s redesigned Paris Métro map, a map based on concentric circles. Now, in Smashing Magazine, Konovalov does a deep dive into his own design process, which took more than two years. Quite a bit more detail than on his own website. [Alejandro Polanco]
When we talk about map literacy, we mean the ability to read a map. We can blithely talk about how map reading has changed over the centuries while failing to interrogate whether what we mean by map reading has changed as well. It’s presentism to assume that people in the past did things the same way as they do today. In a useful essay called “Maps, Travel and Exploration in the Middle Ages: Some Reflection About Anachronism,” French academic Patrick Gautier Dalché explores how medieval audiences interpreted mappae mundi and marine charts. Even a mappa mundi, he argues, has a practical function. Spoiler: it’s not how you or I would use them.
It also occurs to me that Dalché’s paper is a must-read for writers of fantasy novels (and fantasy map makers), who might also fall into the trap of assuming that their characters would use their maps the same way as a modern map reader would.
Here’s The Economist’s interactive map of their Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. Its 2016 iteration, released last week, downgrades the United States to a “flawed democracy”—a drop from 8.05 to 7.98 in the index, where 8 is the threshold between flawed and full democracy. (While many developed countries score higher, not all do: France is at 7.92, and Belgium is at 7.77; Japan is practically tied at 7.99.)
At All Over the Map, Betsy Mason posts 11 Ways to See How Climate Change Is Imperilling the Arctic, a collection of maps and infographics depicting several different indicators of global warming, including sea ice extent, atmospheric temperatures, growing season, polar bear populations, as well as projected shipping routes for an ice-free Arctic Ocean.
Meanwhile, NASA Earth Observatory points—while it still can—to a study mapping the extent of existing and potential thermokarst (thawed permafrost) landscapes. On the Earth Observatory maps (see North America, above), “[t]he different colors reflect the types of landscapes—wetlands, lakes, hillslopes, etc.—where thermokarst is likely to be found today and where it is most likely to form in the future.”
Google Maps has updated its ride services mode in its iOS and Android app, allowing you to book an Uber ride from within the app, and may offer parking availability in an upcoming Android release. [Engadget]
Meanwhile, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, seems to be scaling back its satellite imaging ambitions: it’s apparently in talks to sell its Terra Bella division, which it acquired as Skybox Imaging for $500 million in 2014, to competitor Planet. [Engadget]
Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences, a tiny, 200-student campus in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, gets two writeups in Canada’s national newsmagazine, Maclean’s, as part of its annual campus guide: its unique marine geomatics program is profiled here, and the W. K. Morrison Special Collection, which I told you about last June, is profiled here.
Another map exhibition I neglected to mention yesterday: Utah Drawn: An Exhibition of Rare Maps runs from 27 January to late summer 2017 at the Utah Capitol Building in Salt Lake City; it features “forty rare historical maps depicting the region that became the state of Utah from its earliest imaginings by European cartographers to Utah’s modern state’s boundaries.” [Tony Campbell]
Almost all web mapping libraries render maps using Web Mercator, making an assumption that you generally can’t change out-of-the-box. This has advantages, but it posed a real challenge for us when we set out to build the Washington Post’s live election results map, where using the Albers USA projection was an important requirement. To meet that requirement, we built a pipeline to pre-process geometries.
It’s a bit of a kludge, a way of fooling Mapbox into showing a different projection—latitude/longitude coordinates aren’t accurate any more—but it’s an impressive stab at a real problem. The Dirty Reprojectors web app demonstrates the possibilities, with all the projections available through the d3-geo and d3-geo-projection libraries. [James Fee]
Last month the New York Times mapped the U.S. cultural divide by looking at television viewing preferences. More precisely, the geographic distribution of viewership for the 50 most-liked TV shows. The correlation between Duck Dynasty fandom and voting for Trump was higher than for any other show. More surprisingly, the show most correlated with voting for Clinton? Family Guy.
Hundreds of thousands of Indiana state highway maps that misspelled the new governor’s name are being destroyed and reprinted at the vendor’s expense. (WTHR’s coverage does not indicate what the spelling error was.) Misspelling the boss’s name is obviously politically awkward; I can’t help but suspect that actual cartographic errors would be let through with a sticker or an errata notice instead. [MAPS-L]
California as an Island and Worlds That Never Were, an exhibition of maps from the Roy V. Boswell Collection for the History of Cartography at California State University at Fullerton. Runs from 22 January to 29 March at CSU Fullerton’s Pollak Library. News release. [WMS]
Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State features maps spanning more than 400 years of Texas history, mostly from the Texas General Land Office, as well as two museums and private collectors. Runs from 27 January to 8 October at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. News release. [WMS]
Seymour Schwartz is a familiar figure in the map world. A professor of surgery by day, he’s built a reputation as a map collector (and donor), historian and author (his books include The Mismapping of America and Putting “America” on the Map). On Thursday he’ll be appearing at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, as one of the speakers in their Hidden Passions series. University of Rochester news release. [WMS]
A recent psychology paper challenges the notion that men are better than women at directions. When the same test was presented as a measure of spatial ability that women typically did worse at, women did worse than men. But when the same test was presented as a measure of empathy, women did just as well as men. Social conditioning, in other words, may be at play here. Good magazine. [MAPS-L]
I am not one of those people who is always getting themselves lost. In fact the idea of lost is a more or less academic concept to me: I have a rock-solid sense of direction. I suspect that the same is true for most of the map aficionados who read this website. But maybe you are someone who gets lost very easily, or you at least know someone who is. For such people, the New York Times’s Christopher Mele has a set of practical tips to improve your sense of direction, most of which are predicated on grounding yourself, observing your surroundings and relying not so much on the technology. [MAPS-L]