Atlas Obscura Readers’ Dream Islands: The Results

I mentioned Atlas Obscura’s call for readers to submit maps of their perfect dream island, but I neglected to post a link to the resultsAtlas Obscura: “We received submissions from readers young and old, all full of fun and creative details. Entries included islands full of cats (there were several of those, in fact), political strongholds, simple sandbar paradises, intricate hidden bases, guinea pig sanctuaries, and poetic dreamscapes.”

Traffic Congestion, Mobile Apps and Game Theory

There have been numerous complaints that mobile map apps have been dumping traffic from freeways onto nearby residential streets (previously). But a team of researchers, including Berkeley’s Alexandre Bayen, have been looking at the problem from the perspective of game theory (see papers here and here). Basically, the apps operate selfishly, and lead to results for all drivers that are less good than if they had been working cooperatively. It’s an example of the Nash equilibrium. More at Boing Boing and CityLab.

Don’t Put Shetland in a Box

Wikimedia Commons

Shetland’s representative to the Scottish Parliament has moved an amendment to proposed legislation that would require public authorities to portray Shetland “accurately and proportionately” in Scottish maps: BBC News, iNewsThe Scotsman. Because Shetland is so far to the northeast of the island of Great Britain, it’s usually shown in an inset map; this move would, it seems, prohibit this, and presumably require Scottish maps to show vast tracts of ocean (as above). [NLS Maps]

Alejandro Polanco’s Minimal Geography

Our friend Alejandro Polanco has produced a nifty infographic poster map that is centred, for a change, on the Dymaxion projection. The central map is surrounded by lots of little inset maps and infographics. Called Minimal Geography, it’s available for sale via Kickstarter as a €6 digital download in two print sizes. A second reward level adds a full edition of Alejandro’s Maptorian.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Republican Appeal of New Pennsylvania Congressional Map

CNN: “The Supreme Court has denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block new congressional maps that could tilt several key races in Democrats’ favor from being used in the midterm elections.” The new map was imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after the state’s governor and legislature failed to come up with a replacement for the previous map, which the court had declared unconstitutional; see previous entry.

Meanwhile, last month Wired published a piece that looks at how experts used math and computer simulations to prove to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the congressional map exhibited partisan bias. It’s an interesting look at some interesting methodologies.

Van Duzer Assesses Urbano Monte’s Work

David Rumsey Map Collection

More on Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map, a copy of which the Rumsey Collection acquired last year (see previous entry). Chet Van Duzer presented his findings on the map and the mapmaker at Stanford last month, LiveScience reports. His conclusion? Monte was “both a mastermind and a copycat”—and not a very good artist, either. But the map is still very interesting. [WMS]

OpenStreetMap and Its Women Contributors

When I started contributing edits to OpenStreetMap in earnest, I couldn’t help notice certain idiosyncrasies in its tagging: for example, there was a tag for brothels, which I didn’t need to use, but there wasn’t one for daycares, which in Quebec there are rather a lot of. That seemed odd. And it was indicative of a project whose contributors were overwhelmingly male. On CityLab, Sarah Holder examines OSM’s abysmally low female participation rate (only two to five percent of contributors are women), makes the case for better representation, and looks at where women are making a difference to the map. Because a map built overwhelmingly by men can have some massive blind spots.

When it comes to increasing access to health services, safety, and education—things women in many developing countries disproportionately lack—equitable cartographic representation matters. It’s the people who make the map who shape what shows up. On OSM, buildings aren’t just identified as buildings; they’re “tagged” with specifics according to mappers’ and editors’ preferences. “If two to five percent of our mappers are women, that means only a subset of that get[s] to decide what tags are important, and what tags get our attention,” said Levine.

Sports arenas? Lots of those. Strip clubs? Cities contain multitudes. Bars? More than one could possibly comprehend.

Meanwhile, childcare centers, health clinics, abortion clinics, and specialty clinics that deal with women’s health are vastly underrepresented. In 2011, the OSM community rejected an appeal to add the “childcare” tag at all. It was finally approved in 2013, and in the time since, it’s been used more than 12,000 times.

Interestingly, when you look at crisis mappers, the female participation rate jumps: to 27 percent, based on a survey of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team community.

Comparing Cartograms


Datawrapper has added population cartograms to its map collections, and in its blog post discusses the advantages and disadvantages of cartograms vs. geographical maps, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of some of the different types of cartograms. Turns out that cartograms are kind of like map projections: each has its pros and cons; each is better suited to some uses than to others. [Caitlin Dempsey]

Ogilby’s Britannia

John Ogilby, The Road From London to the Lands End, 1675.

Something I missed when I posted about Alan Ereira’s biography of 17th-century cartographer John Ogilby: scans of all 100 plates of his 1675 atlas, Britannia—considered the first road atlas of Great Britain—are available online at this site. [Tom Harper]

Previously: New Biography of 17th-Century Cartographer John Ogilby.

A Google Maps Roundup

We’re almost at the end of the week of Mario on Google Maps. Announced for March 10 (“MAR10” Day), the temporary feature changed the navigator arrow into Mario driving his cart. Announced for both Android and iOS, but for some reason it never turned up in Google Maps on either my iPhone or my iPad, so I didn’t rush to post. [Business Insider]

Something that is turning up on my iPhone: plus codes, which appear to be Google’s homegrown solution to location codes, map codes and the like: a short string of characters that indicate a specific location on the globe. They were announced back in August 2015, but last month Geospatial World made note of their rollout.

Public transit navigation now includes wheelchair accessible routes, as of yesterday: “this feature is rolling out in major metropolitan transit centers around the world, starting with London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney. We’re looking forward to working with additional transit agencies in the coming months to bring more wheelchair accessible routes to Google Maps.”

Slashgear looks at the new Google Maps APIs for gaming, which, I guess, enable developers to build real-world games on top of Google Maps. Note that Pokémon Go is not built on Google Maps: I suspect this outcome means that Google has noticed that.

Inevitable, and surprisingly not before now: Disney’s parks in Street View.

MacVan Map Company Is Closing at the End of March

MacVan Map Company, the Colorado map publisher and store, is closing at the end of March—another victim, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, of car- and smartphone-based navigation systems:

MacVan General Manager Bob Stanley, one of two remaining employees of a company that once employed nearly 20 people, said this week he and owner Ken Field agonized for four months, trying to find way to keep the company alive.

“We were just looking for a path to stay open. We went through the books, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It (the business) just wasn’t paying for itself,” Stanley said. “I just want to thank our customers. We appreciate their loyalty. They have always been great to work with.”

MacVan is best known for “The Book,” its annual spiral-bound collection of detailed maps of the Colorado Springs area that has been a staple for real estate agents, delivery drivers, police and firefighters and even journalists. The company operates a retail store at 1045B Garden of the Gods Road and produces more than 40 different maps for cities along the Colorado Front Range and Western Slope, a telephone directory called the “Ute Pass Gold Book” for Teller County and parts of El Paso and Park counties as well as advertising and custom real estate maps.

MacVan has been in business since 1978. [MAPS-L]

The Pictorial Maps of Jean-Louis Rheault

Jean-Louis Rheault

KelownaNow reports that a pictorial tourist map of Kelowna, British Columbia will be updated by the original artist later this year. The original version, first released in 2012, was featured in the NACIS Atlas of Design in 2014. This local news item was my segue into the work of pictorial map artist Jean-Louis Rheault, who’s been producing map illustrations for cities, agencies, organizations and businesses for decades. His Flickr account contains many examples of his work, as does the portfolio section of his website. [WMS]