Coming Soon: Kenneth Field’s Open Online Course on Cartography

Esri will be hosting a free, six-week massive open online course (MOOC) on cartography later this year. Called Cartography., it’s taught by Kenneth Field and coincides with the release of Field’s textbook of the same name.

Each weekly lesson in the Cartography. MOOC focuses on the creation of one exemplary map that draws together key cartographic ideas. Lessons consist of about two hours of content, including video discussions, guided and self-guided exercises using ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online, quizzes, interactions between students and instructors, and supplemental resources. Participants who engage with all the course content will receive a certificate of completion and a discount code to purchase Cartography., the book, should they wish to continue their learning.

Registration opens on 18 April and continues until 2 May. It is, as I mentioned, free; Esri expects more than 10,000 people to sign up.

Cartography., the book, is currently scheduled to come out in June.


Yesterday I told you about Mapzen’s announcement that it would be closing down at the end of the month. So it’s bittersweet that I find, in my to-do list of links to post here, a Mapzen project. Morphology is a tool that abstracts the map into an unlabelled set of lines, patterns and forms. The default view combines several different features, but you can isolate single features: airports, roads, parks, bodies of water, and more. The work of Mapzen cartographer Geraldine Sarmiento, it was first presented as a NACIS talk last October. [Atlas Obscura]

A Digital Cartographer Tries Drawing by Hand

John M. Nelson

Fresh from trying to replicate hand-drawn effects (or even papercut effects) digitally, John M. Nelson has crossed over and begun attempting actual hand-drawn maps. Here he documents how he created a hand-drawn map as a Christmas present; here he gives hillshading by hand a try.

Previously: Five Years of DroughtCartographers’ StoriesThe Earth at Night, Updated.

Canadian Geographic’s (and Chris Brackley’s) Best Maps

Canadian Geographic

Canadian Geographic looks at the best maps it published in 2017. It did the same in 2016 and in 2015. The funny thing about the maps in these year’s-best posts is that they’re all by CG’s in-house cartographer, Chris Brackley, who the RCGS is clearly glad to have on board—and based on what I can see of his work, they should be.

Examples of Multivariate Maps

Jim Vallandingham looks at multivariate maps:

There are many types of maps that are used to display data. Choropleths and Cartograms provide two great examples. I gave a talk, long long ago, about some of these map varieties.

Most of these more common map types focus on a particular variable that is displayed. But what if you have multiple variables that you would like to present on a map at the same time?

Here is my attempt to collect examples of multivariate maps I’ve found and organize them into a loose categorization. Follow along, or dive into the references, to spur on your own investigations and inspirations!

Jim’s examples of maps that display more than one variable include 3D maps, multicolour choropleth maps, multiple small maps, and embedded charts and symbols. Useful and enlightening.

Map Fonts

Siyu Cao

Lakeside, released in May 2013, is a font inspired by topographical maps. The brainchild of Siyu Cao, Lakeside “is a typeface inspired by natural forms and topography. Letter forms are defined by positive and negative space, which could be compared to mountains (positive) and lakes (negative) in nature. The design is based on the language of cartography and the 3D visualization of the typeface follows the contours of each letter. The typeface could be further integrated with architecture, creating green public space that can be read from high above.” It’s not available for download—was this a proof of concept?—and it’s rather hard to see how it could be used in the real world. [A Map a Day] has a number of fonts inspired by the lettering on old maps whose licenses are relatively affordable; they remind me a bit of the IM Fell series of fonts (one of which I use for The Map Room’s wordmark).

But the font you use on your map should almost certainly not be so obviously mappy. There’s at least one font designed for maps. Back in 2005 I told you about Cisalpin, a humanist lineal font designed by Felix Arnold for use in cartography. It’s available for licensing on Linotype.

But that’s not to say that other fonts shouldn’t be used; here’s a Cartotalk thread from 2005 and another from 2011 that talk about the best fonts to use on maps.

More font-related links. Writing on the ArcGIS Blog in 2008, Aileen Buckley offered minimum size guidelines for text and symbols on maps, based on viewing distance and whether the map is printed or on a screen. Gretchen Peterson’s blog has a typography categoryTypeBrewer, a tool to explore typography in a mapmaking context that I told you about in 2008, is temporarily offline, unfortunately.

A Book Roundup

The Routledge Handbook

Out last month, the expensive, 600-page Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography (Routledge). Edited by Alexander J. Kent (who co-wrote The Red Atlas) and Peter Vujakovic, the book “draws on the wealth of new scholarship and practice in this emerging field, from the latest conceptual developments in mapping and advances in map-making technology to reflections on the role of maps in society. It brings together 43 engaging chapters on a diverse range of topics, including the history of cartography, map use and user issues, cartographic design, remote sensing, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and map art.” [The History of Cartography Project]

New Academic Books

New academic books on maps and cartography published over the past couple of months include:

More on Books We’ve Heard of Before

National Geographic interviews Malachy Tallack, the author of The Un-Discovered Islands, and The Guardian shares seven maps from James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Where the Animals Go.

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Andrew Douglas-Clifford’s Maps of New Zealand

New Zealand cartographer Andrew Douglas-Clifford (“The Map Kiwi”) recently got profiled by The Press, a Christchurch-based newspaper. I’ve been aware of his work for a while; it includes some interesting items, like a map of state highways in the form of a metro map, a series of circle-shaped city maps (so-called “map dots”), and, most recently, a map of New Zealand’s uninhabited places. Prints available via his website. [WMS]

Fake Maps! (Very Dishonest)

Here’s a video of Steven Feldman’s informative and entertaining talk at FOSS4G in Boston last August: “Fake Maps, Very Dishonest” looks at the ways in which maps, through ignorance, incompetence or deliberate intent, can mislead, misinform, misfire and miss the point. Very much in the vein of Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps, or Andrew Wiseman’s “When Maps Lie,” but very much aimed at working mapmakers. Slides of Steven’s presentation are available here (there are some that didn’t make it into the actual talk). Slides and videos of other FOSS4G presentations are also available online. [Benjamin Hennig]

An Austro-Hungarian Mapmaking Guide

Schlüssel und vorlageblatter für den situations zeichnungs unterricht, 1882. K.K Militar-Geografischen Institute. C1:5 b.3. Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian Map Room Blog posts some excerpts from an 1882 Austro-Hungarian guide to mapmaking. “The Schlüssel und vorlageblatter für den situations zeichnungs unterricht (which translates roughly as ‘Key and template for drawing lessons’) is a teaching aid created by the Institute of Military Geography in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War in 1882 for the drawing of maps. Inside there are a number of different terrain examples and sheets showing scales, text, topographical features and legends.” As the blog post points out, the purpose of the guide was to ensure uniformity in military mapmaking. [Benjamin Hennig]

Tissot’s Indicatrix

Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on the Robinson projection. Map by Eric Gaba. Wikimedia Commons.

Geo Lounge’s Elizabeth Borneman has a piece on Tissot’s indicatrix, which tends to turn up in discussions of map projections. (See, for example, this piece from Vox’s Johnny Harris, and the accompanying video.) And for good reason: it’s a useful visualization tool. All maps distort—representing a curved surface on a flat plane, et cetera, et cetera—but a grid of Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on a world map will measure the distortion—linear, angular, by area—produced by that map’s projection. On the Mercator projection, the indicatrices remain perfect circles, but grow larger toward the poles; on equal-area equatorial projections, they maintain their size but squish into ellipses; on other projections they also angle left or right depending on how close they are to the edge. On compromise projections like the Robinson (see above), they do all three.

New Map Books for September 2017

Map books coming out this month:

The Art of Cartographics (Goodman) is available now in the U.K. but won’t come out in North America until March 2018. The publisher describes it as “a stunning collection of maps designed in a unique way. […] This carefully curated book selects the most creative and interesting map design projects from around the world, and offers inspiration for designers and map-lovers alike. Covering themes including power, gentrification, literature, animals, plants and food, and showcasing handrawn, painted, digital, 3D sculpted and folded maps, Cartographics offers a slice of social history that is as beautiful as it is fascinating.” Buy at Amazon U.K. | Pre-order at Amazon

In a similar vein, while the British edition of Where the Animals Go, a compendium of spectacular maps of animal paths, came out last November, U.S. readers have had to wait until now: W. W. Norton is publishing the U.S. edition, and it comes out next week. Buy at Amazon

Also out next week: the National Geographic Atlas of Beer (National Geographic). I have no information about the quantity or quality of the maps therein, but according to the publisher the book does have some: “The most visually stunning and comprehensive beer atlas available, this richly illustrated book includes more beers and more countries than any other book of its kind. Including beer recommendations from Garrett Oliver, the famed brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and written by ‘beer geographers’ Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark Patterson, this indispensable guide features more than 100 illuminating maps and over 200 beautiful color photos.” Buy at Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era

Christina E. Dando’s Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era (Routledge) came out earlier this month. From the publisher: “As women became more mobile (physically, socially, politically), they used and created geographic knowledge and maps. […] Long overlooked, this women’s work represents maps and mapping that today we would term community or participatory mapping, critical cartography and public geography. These historic examples of women-generated mapping represent the adoption of cartography and geography as part of women’s work. […] This study explores the implications of women’s use of this technology in creating and presenting information and knowledge and wielding it to their own ends.” [WMS]

Amazon | iBooks

Related: Map Books of 2017.

The Penguin Projection

“A world map tells a lot about the person who has made it, or about the market it is made for,” says Frans Blok. The edges of equatorial projections are determined so as to put the map’s audience at the centre of the map: European maps put the Bering Strait at the edges, Australian and Asian maps the Atlantic, American maps break Asia in two. If, however, only the polar regions were habitable—or if you were making a map for penguins—you might use a polar projection centred on Antarctica.

Frans Blok

“And no, for European use this map is less suitable. But there aren’t that many penguins living here,” says Blok. [ICA]

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.