“We made significant changes to all of our development processes because of it,” says Cue, who now oversees Maps. “To all of us living in Cupertino, the maps for here were pretty darn good. Right? So [the problem] wasn’t obvious to us. We were never able to take it out to a large number of users to get that feedback. Now we do.”
Apple senior vice president Eddie Cue, quoted in this Fast Company profile of Apple, on how the Apple Maps debacle changed Apple’s famously insular culture, opening things up to the point that they now have a public beta program. [James Fee]
Sajjad Anwar and Sanjay Bhangar have been playing with train, station and schedule data from Indian Railways, one result of which (so far) is this reachability map—all the destinations reachable by a single train (i.e., without a transfer) from a given station. [Sajjad Anwar]
Previously: A Map of India’s Railway Network.
Speaking of map monsters, here’s a piece in the Public Domain Review from 2014 that I only encountered this month. It’s a look at the sea serpents found in Olaus Magnus’s 1539 Carta Marina: “The northern seas of the marine and terrestrial map teem with fantastic sea monsters either drawn or approved by Olaus,” writes the author—none other than Joseph Nigg, who literally wrote the book on the Carta Marina’s sea monsters. [WMS]
Previously: Sea Monsters and the Carta Marina.
A new scholarly book about the use of monsters on early modern maps has been brought to my attention. Surekha Davies’s Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters (Cambridge University Press, June) explores the use of both monsters and indigenous peoples on Renaissance maps. “Giants, cannibals and other monsters were a regular feature of Renaissance illustrated maps, inhabiting the Americas alongside other indigenous peoples. In a new approach to views of distant peoples, Surekha Davies analyzes this archive alongside prints, costume books and geographical writing.” Buy at Amazon. [sourdoughchef]
Previously: Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps.
NASA: “NASA researchers have helped produce the first map showing what parts of the bottom of the massive Greenland Ice Sheet are thawed— key information in better predicting how the ice sheet will react to a warming climate.”
Google Maps’s new, cleaner look, which rolled out last month and replaces clusters of points of interest with coloured “areas of interest,” “represents the company’s ongoing efforts to transform Maps from a navigational tool to a commercial interface and offers the clearest proof yet that the geographic web—despite its aspirations to universality—is a deeply subjective entity,” writes Henry Grabar in Slate.
Here’s a coincidence for you. On Saturday, the day after I posted about an exhibition of MacDonald Gill’s pictorial maps, I discovered, while shopping at a local stationery store, that there was such a thing as a MacDonald Gill Wonderground Map of London calendar. (It’s also available on Amazon.)
Jon Wright reviews Greg Milner’s Pinpoint, the U.K. edition of which is now available, in the August 2016 issue of Geographical magazine. “Some of the claims about how GPS ‘may fundamentally change us as human beings’ seem inflated, but the book is a useful starting point for discussion.” Amazon, iBooks.
Previously: Pinpoint Now Out.
Art Meet Maps: The World of MacDonald Gill is an exhibition of nine of MacDonald Gill’s pictorial maps at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla in La Jolla, San Diego, California. The exhibition also includes pictorial map art by Dolodes d’Ambly, Lucien Boucher, Jo Mora and Ruth Taylor White. Admission is free, but the museum is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as the first and third Saturdays of each month. It runs until 20 May 2017. Coverage from the La Jolla Light. [WMS]
Previously: MacDonald Gill’s Wonderground Map.
Decades of continental drift mean that GPS coordinates in Australia are off by approximately 1.5 metres (5 feet), which has implications for self-driving cars and other applications that require very precise positioning. See coverage from Atlas Obscura, BBC News, Popular Mechanics and the Washington Post.
Basically, the discrepancy comes from the fact that GPS is based on the Earth’s core rather than any point on the surface, whereas local coordinates are based on a geodetic datum—in Australia’s case, GDA94 (North America uses NAD83)—that is based on a fixed point on the surface. But with plate tectonics, points are not fixed: Australia moves northward at seven centimetres a year.
On 1 January 2017 Australia will shift its coordinates north by 1.8 metres, overshooting things a bit so that the continent and GPS will be in sync by 2020, with plans to keep the datum continually updated after that.
Two reviews this week of Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary by Jill Desimini and Charles Waldheim (Princeton Architectural Press, June 2016). Writing for the Huffington Post, Kate Abbey-Lambertz notes that the book follows up on a 2013 exhibition and features a number of its gorgeous maps. And Curbed’s Patrick Sisson points to the book’s argument “for a more design-oriented approach to cartography”:
Jill Elizabeth Desimini, a professor of landscape design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, argues for a more holistic approach to mapmaking in the digital age. The prevalence of Google Maps, an extremely functional and useful tool, can limit the scope of what we think a map can do, and just how much design can impact its effectiveness and communication potential. As users are presented with maps that contain more and more information, they tend to depend on them and their directions, she says, and lose their critical eye. As cartography moves toward non-physical things, such as check-ins, and abstract forces, Cartographic Grounds raises the question of geographic precision and just what it means to map well.
Previously: Cartographic Grounds.
The Smithsonian’s Ocean Blog has a profile of ocean cartographer Marie Tharp, whose discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’s rift valley provided hard evidence for the theory of plate tectonics.
Rail Map Online is a web-based map showing every rail line that ever existed in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Base layers can be toggled between Google Maps, satellite, OpenStreetMap and old Ordnance Survey maps. It doesn’t distinguish between existing and removed rail lines, though that appears to be coming; it’s a work in progress. [Tim Dunn]
Previously: British Railways, Past and Present.