The Earth at Night, Updated

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA has released updated global maps of the Earth at night. The so-called “black marble” maps show where human activity lights up the darkness. NASA’s page highlights some of the differences between the 2016 and 2012 versions of the map with before/after interactive sliders. John Nelson has tried something different: overlaying the 2016 map on the 2012 map with a clipping mask shows newly illuminated parts of the globe as dark patches.

John M. Nelson, “A Changing Earth at Night,” 2017.

New Google Earth Launches

A new version of Google Earth launched today. Unlike previous versions, the desktop version runs in a web browser rather than a standalone app. Also unlike previous versions, it’s no longer cross-platform: for now at least, the desktop version only runs in Chrome, and the mobile app is Android-only.

Frank Taylor has been covering the new release at the venerable Google Earth Blog and has a first review.

For my part, I’ve poked around in it in Chrome a bit and I found it fairly responsive and easy to use. If it runs this well in the browser I can see how a standalone app would be redundant; this is a better delivery method. I would much prefer it, though, if it also ran on platforms that didn’t belong to Google.

Update, 21 April: Coverage from AFP and Geoawesomeness focuses on the features, which I gave short shrift to above.

When Users Don’t Interact with Interactive Maps

Brian Timoney responds to the argument that few users actually interact with interactive infographics with some thoughts on how that might apply to online maps, with their sometimes-complicated, GIS-derived user interfaces. His suggestions? Static maps, small multiples, animated GIFs, text-based search—simpler, more user-friendly, more familiar UIs and ways to present mapped data.

Mapping Amtrak Cuts

President Trump’s proposed budget would end funding for Amtrak’s long-distance passenger routes, leaving only the Northeast Corridor and state-funded lines. Maps of the lines that would be closed share the problems of Amtrak network maps in general. Take USA Today’s map from its 12 April article on the subject:

Like electoral maps that make large, less-populated areas look more important than densely populated areas, this map is somewhat deceptive: it distorts the extent of the cutbacks because it shows lines rather than trains. There are, for example, a lot more trains in the Northeast Corridor than run between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest (the daily Empire Builder). State-run services tend to have lots of lines and trains over short distances that are too small to see clearly on this map. Adding connecting services (which are usually bus routes) adds even more detail, and clutter, to a small map.

Cameron Booth, for his part, visualizes the proposed cuts by starting with his Amtrak Subway Map and greying out the lines that would be cut. This doesn’t solve the number-of-trains problem, but it does provide a clearer sense of what’s happening to the network.

Previously: Cameron Booth’s Amtrak Subway Map.

Drawing in Windows Maps

“Windows 10’s stock Maps app has a drawing tool that’s quite useful, especially if you have a Windows 10 touchscreen PC,” writes Matt Elliott at CNet. In addition to scribbling notes, you can draw a line between two points to get directions and measure the distance of a drawn route. My household is all-Apple so I miss out on things like this on other platforms. [Gretchen Peterson]

The 74 on Boston Schools and the Peters Map

Education news website The 74 has its own coverage of the Boston schools/Peters map controversy (is it safe to call it a controversy?), with extensive quotes from Matthew Edney, who does not mince words. (Comparing both projections to Comic Sans? Ouch.) [Caitlin Dempsey]

Previously: More on Boston Schools and the Peters MapThe Peters Map Is Fighting the Last WarThe Peters Projection Comes to Boston’s Public SchoolsIn Defence of the Mercator ProjectionHow the Mercator Projection Won the Internet.

How Many Fake Business Listings Are There on Google Maps?

Bogus business listings on Google Maps have been a thing for a while; a new research paper, authored by researchers at Google and the University of San Diego, tries to quantify the scale and scope of the problem. The New Scientist reports:

To analyse the scope of this abuse, the group looked at over 100,000 listings that the Google Maps team had identified as abusive between June 2014 and September 2015. The fraudulent listings most often belonged to services like locksmiths, plumbers and electricians.

Overall, less than one per cent of Google Maps listings were fraudulent, but pockets of fake listings emerged. In West Harrison, New York, for example, more than 80 per cent of locksmiths listed were scams. The U.S. was home to over half of the fraudulent listings, followed by India with 17.5 per cent.


Travel Times in Helsinki

Lauri Vanhala wanted to figure out the best place to buy an apartment in Helsinki, so he built an interactive sort-of-isochrone map of the city. He explains: “I calculated the travel time from every address to every other address in Helsinki around 7:30-8:00am (about 30 billion searches total!). Then I calculated the (weighted) average travel time to anywhere in the city, using amount of jobs in the target area as weight.” [OSM]

Maps of Delhi

Pilar Maria Guerrieri’s Maps of Delhi, a collection of 66 maps from the 19th century to the present day, comes out from Niyogi Books in August. Nevertheless, the wire service IANS has an article about it now: it reveals how the book came about because the author wished it had been available when she began working on her doctorate.

“While I was searching specifically for the pre and post independence maps in several Indian archives and institutions, I slowly found and collected all the other documents. At the end of my PhD I realised that if I had the complete collection of maps at the beginning of my studies, my research would have been much more easier and smoother. I decided to publish the whole collection with the aim that it will turn to be useful for scholars interested in understanding the capital of India,” Guerrieri told IANS in an interview.

[Tony Campbell/WMS]

Map Art Exhibition in Mumbai

Gulammohammed Sheikh, The Mappamundi suite 7. Distant Destinations II, 2004. Digital collage, gouache on inkjet, 51 × 62 cm.

An exhibition of map-related art is taking place at the Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai, India. Curated by Meera Menezes, Here Be Dragons and Other Coded Landscapes features works by 11 artists; it runs until 31 May. More from the Hindustan Times. [Caitlin Dempsey]

Seeking Civilization: Map Art Exihibition in San Francisco

Miguel Angel Ríos, Le Premier Voyage à l’Inconnu, 1992-93. Cibachrome mounted on pleated canvas with pushpins, 160 × 320 cm.

Seeking Civilization: Art and Cartography, an exhibition at Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco, “offers a timely re-contextualization of cartographic narrative in contemporary art and dialogue. Including works ranging from deconstructed colonial maps to neon light installations documenting personal journeys in search of love, these artworks direct us towards new reflections on citizenship, power and nationhood.” Featuring art by Michael Arcega, Val Britton, Guillermo Galindo, Taraneh Hemami, Omar Mismar, Miguel Angel Ríos (above) and Adrien Segal, Seeking Civilization opened on 23 March and runs until 6 May. More at SF Weekly[Texas Map Society]

Picturing America

Meanwhile, at All Over the Map, Greg Miller has a look at another professor with another book: Stephen J. Hornsby, who curated an exhibition of American pictorial maps at the Osher Map Library last year, has published a book on the subject: Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps, out last month from University of Chicago Press (Amazon, iBooks). Miller’s post includes an interview with Hornsby and a sample gallery of some of Hornsby’s pictorial maps.

William Rankin Profiled

Over at the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Global History Forum, Timothy Nunan has a long article about Yale history of science professor William Rankin, author of last year’s After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (book website, publisher, Amazon, iBooks) and the themes—the shifting relationship between map and territory, for example—addressed by that book. [WMS]

Previously: After the MapWilliam Rankin, Author of ‘After the Map,’ Interviewed.

Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

In late 2010 and early 2011, the Geospatial Revolution Project explored the use and impact of digital mapping through multimedia educational materials and a series of web videos. An associated online course, “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution,” launched in 2013 as a MOOC (massive open online course) via Coursera; more than 100,000 students signed up for it. Now, with changes to Coursera’s model, the instructor, Anthony C. Robinson, has made the course materials freely available for self-directed study. [GIS Lounge]