Earlier this month in the New York Times, Greg Milner looked at something that was a frequent subject during The Map Room’s first life: people getting themselves lost by blindly following their GPS units (or satnavs, as the British call them).
Could society’s embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? For Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg’s Center for Cognitive Science, the danger of GPS is that “we are not forced to remember or process the information—as it is permanently ‘at hand,’ we need not think or decide for ourselves.” She has written that we “see the way from A to Z, but we don’t see the landmarks along the way.” In this sense, “developing a cognitive map from this reduced information is a bit like trying to get an entire musical piece from a few notes.” GPS abets a strip-map level of orientation with the world.
Last week, Slate’s Rebecca Onion looked at the surveying and mapmaking career of George Washington. Her main source is this page by the Library of Congress’s Edward Redmond. “Beginning with his early career as a surveyor and throughout his life as a soldier, planter, businessman, land speculator, farmer, military officer, and president, Washington relied on and benefitted from his knowledge of maps. Between 1747 and 1799 Washington surveyed over two hundred tracts of land and held title to more than sixty-five thousand acres in thirty-seven different locations,” Redmond writes. Here’s a list of Washington’s maps—drawn by him, drawn by others according to his sketches, or of property owned by him—held by the Library of Congress. [via]
Some Mainers consider DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer their own backwoods bibles. The collection of maps works perfectly for planning expeditions afield, and can prompt plenty of discussion around a wood stove after a long day of hunting or fishing.
When the BDN asked for readers to share their thoughts on the iconic map book, dozens responded, telling us how much the maps have mattered to them.
The Local profiles Lausanne-based game and book company Helvetiq, which last year published Diccon Bewes’s Around Switzerland in 80 Maps. Those maps range, according to the publisher, “from the circular island map of 1480 to the birth of modern Swiss cartography; from the British rail plan for Switzerland to a Soviet map of Basel during the Cold War; from the 1970s Zurich map for men to the vision of a Greater Switzerland with 40 cantons.” Buy at Amazon. [via]
The 17th-century Dutch cartographer Frederick de Wit, “one of the most famous dealers of maps, prints and art during the Dutch Golden Age,” is the subject of a new book: George Carhart’s Frederick de Wit and the First Concise Reference Atlas, out this month from Brill Publishing. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.) [via]
Last week, DC Public Library announced “the release of a century of historic Washington, D.C. maps in Dig DC, the online portal to DCPL Special Collections. These maps cover the District of Columbia and the region from the 1760s to the Civil War. To see them, head on over to the Maps: City & Regional collection on Dig DC!” Of the 8,000 or so maps in the library’s Washingtoniana Map Collection, 250 have been digitized so far; they’re working on scanning the entire collection. [via]
Is there any other publication so complete, showing roads, trails, campgrounds, public reserve land, rivers, coves, islands and city streets? Am I the only one who didn’t know what an esker was before they picked up a Gazetteer? I doubt it.
If the new owners kill the map that helps define the state, what will happen to us? How will we know the Crocker Cirque even exists, let alone how to find it. (Map 29, D3, by the way.)
So, I’m looking at you, Garmin, out there in Kansas: Keep your hands off my Gazetteer.
Of course, nothing’s happened yet, and nothing may necessarily happen, but Maine losing the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer would be like London losing the A to Z or Winnipeg the Sherlock atlas: paper maps that are local, idiosyncratic, and essential. [via]
New Horizons mission scientists have created a geological map of a portion of Pluto’s terrain. “This map covers a portion of Pluto’s surface that measures 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from top to bottom, and includes the vast nitrogen-ice plain informally named Sputnik Planum and surrounding terrain. As the key in the figure below indicates, the map is overlaid with colors that represent different geological terrains. Each terrain, or unit, is defined by its texture and morphology—smooth, pitted, craggy, hummocky or ridged, for example. How well a unit can be defined depends on the resolution of the images that cover it. All of the terrain in this map has been imaged at a resolution of approximately 1,050 feet (320 meters) per pixel or better, meaning scientists can map units with relative confidence.”
The Ordnance Survey has created a map of Mars. “The one-off Ordnance Survey Mars map, created using NASA open data and made to a 1:4,000,000 scale, is made to see if our style of mapping has potential for future Mars missions.” It looks very much like a topographic map of Mars might; the reduced version is a bit more screen-friendly.
A facsimile of Mitchell’s New General Atlas, first published in 1860 by August Mitchell Jr. with hand-coloured maps, is now available from Schiffer Publishing. “This reproduction of Mitchell’s New General Atlas restores all 76 maps from the original plus its 26 pages of geological, statistical, and geographic information from 1860. Included are intriguing looks at the political boundaries of the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, as well as maps of other countries and regions that look vastly different today.” Press release. [via] Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)