Oceania: The Truncated Continent


In “Cartographic ethics: Oceania, the truncated continent,” Dietmar Offenhuber complains about world maps of climate change that obscure the region of the world most affected by it: Oceania. It’s an important point both in specific and in general, as he goes on to say:

Oceania is mostly an invisible continent: its islands, islets, and atolls being too small to be printed on most world maps. On the outer fringes of most world maps, its territories are cropped or covered by a legend. With of our example, the world ends just after New Zealand, and the legend covers eastern parts of French Polynesia.

The thoughtless use of Mercator projections in world maps is generally frowned upon, but truncating the lobes of projections such as Mollweide and Robinson is just as bad. But even without such mistakes, all political maps struggle with a conflict of intent: on the one hand, accurate representation of territory, on the other hand, the appropriate representation of populations.

To get a better picture of Oceania, I made a simple map of all named islands and atolls, described in the remainder of this post.

(See map above.) [Boing Boing]

Exhibitions, Events, Meetings and Societies

Every so often I think about creating directories of map societies or a calendar of upcoming events. That way lies madness, especially since I’d be reinventing the wheel. John Docktor already maintains calendars of exhibitions and meetings and events; sure, I’d like them to be machine-readable (i.e., have the ability to add events to your phone’s calendar), but he’s the one doing the work, so I’ll shut up now. As for map societies, Tony Campbell lists the international societies, while James Speed Hensinger maintains indexes of the local map societies.

There may be other resources out there along these lines; let me know about them and I’ll post them.

Tolkien’s Annotated Map On Display for One Day Only

Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth, recently purchased by Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, is being put on display—but only for one day. Mark your calendars: Thursday, 23 June 2016, from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Weston Library. [Tony Campbell]

(The only other instance of a single-day map exhibition I can think of was when the Austrian National Library put the infinitely more delicate and valuable Tabula Peutingeriana on display for a single day in 2007.)

Previously: Bodleian Library Acquires Annotated Tolkien MapMap of Middle-earth, Annotated by Tolkien Himself, Discovered.

New Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness


A new online atlas of artificial sky brightness is now available, based on updated light pollution data published last week. (There’s also a 3D globe version that may not work in all browsers.) Light pollution, as I’ve blogged before, is the bane of professional and amateur astronomers alike, obscuring fainter objects and interfering with observations, both naked-eye and through telescopes. As the article in Science Advances puts it, “This atlas shows that more than 80% of the world and more than 99% of the U.S. and European populations live under light-polluted skies. The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans.” [Rumsey Map Center]

Previously: Light Pollution Maps; Testing Light Pollution Maps; Testing Light Pollution Maps Redux; Darker Than You Think.

‘There Is More to Gerrymandering Than Ugly Shapes’

On the liberal political blog Daily Kos, Stephen Wolf argues that it takes more than a weirdly shaped electoral district to make a gerrymander:

Land does not vote and we can’t judge gerrymanders simply based on geometry. Districts aren’t just abstract shapes on a map, but collections of actual people and voters. Ultimately, the outcomes produced by a particular map matter far more than a map’s appearance. Comparing the actual congressional districts to plausible alternatives in Maryland and other states demonstrates both how gerrymandering is more complex than merely grotesque shapes, and that Maryland is far from the worst partisan gerrymander nationwide.

The Industry of Socialism


The Industry of Socialism is a giant, 5.9×4.5-metre map of the Soviet Union made from more than 4,500 gemstones. It made its first appearance in 1937 at the Paris Exposition, where the Soviet and Nazi German pavilions squared off against one another. It subsequently appeared, with updates, at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. The map continued to be updated to reflect the USSR’s territorial expansion through the 1940s. Recently restored (its original textolite base was insufficent to the task of supporting the map’s three-ton weight, and has been replaced with Italian shale), it now resides at the A. P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute (VSEGEI) in St. Petersburg.

Most of the pages about The Industry of Socialism are in Russian. The VSEGEI page is full of detail and photos and responds well to Google Translate; there are several LiveJournal entries that are based on this material. For pages in English, see this page and this page for photos, as well as this RT story. [Maps on the Web]

Fantasy Maps Exhibit at St. Louis Central Library

Fantasy Maps: Imagined Worlds, a new exhibition at St. Louis’s Central Library, features enlarged prints of fantasy maps and a 75×25-foot illustrated map of St. Louis on the floor of the library’s great hall. Opens today and runs until 15 October according to this page. There’s nothing on the library’s website, but see the writeup in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [WMS]

Konovalov’s Paris Métro Map


Designer Constantine Konovalov and his team spent more than two years creating this reimagined map of the Paris Métro system. Its design is based on circles: lines 2 and 6, which encircle the city core, are presented as a perfect circle, and the tramlines that follow the Péripherique form a circular arc as well. It’s quite well done; don’t miss the video on the site that timelapses through every iteration of the map’s design. Could someone navigate the RATP’s network with this map? I think so (though it’s been 19 years since I’ve been to Paris). See also Transit Maps’ analysis of the map.

The Chicago Tribune Reviews Two Map Books

mind-the-mapcartographic-groundsWriting for the Chicago Tribune, Patrick Reardon reviews two map books I’ve mentioned before, albeit briefly: Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary, edited by Jill Desimini and Charles Waldheim, which comes out in a few days; and Mind the Map: Illustrated Maps and Cartography, edited by Antonis Antoniou, Robert Klanten and Sven Ehmann, which came out last September. “Each of these books aims to show a wide spectrum of map-making,” writes Reardon, “and together they cover just about the entire waterfront.” [WMS]

Previously: Cartographic GroundsMind the Map.

Don’t Make a Map

Martin Burch, data developer for the Wall Street Journal, has posted his presentation from the GeoJourNews 2016 conference. Called “Don’t Make a Map,” it explores situations where presenting your data in the form of a map is actually a bad idea, and looks at some better alternatives. “Always make a map,” he concludes, “but don’t always publish it.” Very much in the vein of similar pieces by Darla Cameron (of the Washington Post) and Matthew Ericson (of the New York Times). [Carla Astudillo]

Previously: The End of Maps in Seven Charts.