An exhibition of astronomical maps and illustrations opened this week at the Osher Map Library in Portland, Maine. Art of the Spheres: Picturing the Cosmos since 1600 is, at least in its online version, divided into two categories: Works of Scientific Investigation features chromolithographs of various astronomical phenomena, the moon, planets and deep sky objects from The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings (1881); Popular and Pedagogic Works includes celestial globes, charts and other graphical representations of the universe. Runs until 6 October.
The Cartographers’ Guild, that online community of fantasy map makers, announced the 2018 winners of their Atlas Awards, which honour the best maps made by their members. It’s the second year of the Awards’ existence. Winners were named in eight categories, including best world, regional, city/town, hand-drawn, space, and structure and gaming maps; most original; and best overall map, for which there was a three-way tie between maps by Filippo Vanzo, John Stevenson and Katarina Božanić (see above). Click through to see the other winners and finalists: there is some extremely adept work on display there.
The kerfuffle about Shetland being relegated to inset maps (Ed Parsons has taken to calling this “Insetgate”) is not quite done. Kenneth Field shares his thoughts in a post titled “In Praise of Insets,” in which he calls Scottish politician Tavish Scott’s proposal to ban the use of inset maps to portray Shetland as “utter nonsense” and goes on to defend their use more generally.
Insets are not just used to move geographically awkward places. They are commonly used to create larger scale versions of the map for smaller, yet more densely populated places. Often they are positioned over sparsely populated land to use space wisely. I’m guessing Scott would have an objection to an inset that, to his mind, would exaggerate the geographical importance of Glasgow compared to Shetland. Yet … in population terms it’s a place of massively greater importance so one could argue it deserves greater relative visual prominence on the map. Many maps are about people, not geography.
Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces is the latest exhibition put on by the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.
Boston boasts some of the nation’s most recognizable and cherished green spaces, from Boston Common, to the Emerald Necklace, to hundreds of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, tot lots, community gardens, playing fields, cemeteries, and urban wilds. In this exhibition, you will learn how the country’s oldest public park grew from a grazing pasture to an iconic recreational and social center, how 19th-century reformers came to view parks as environmental remedies for ill health, how innovative landscape architects fashioned green oases in the midst of a booming metropolis, and what the future holds for Boston’s open spaces. As you explore three centuries of open space in Boston, perhaps you will feel inspired to go outside and discover the green spaces in your own backyard.
Transit map designer Jug Cerović has reposted a look at the state of the art of European bus network maps. “I have studied more than 250 European cities and their bus maps, and have also designed a few. Here are some observations about the state of the practice.” He groups bus maps into three categories, based on how they use colour: maps that use colour to show the technology used (bus, metro, subway); maps that use colour to indicate individual lines; and maps that use colour and width to show bus frequency. Now Jug shows examples of each, and goes through the pros and cons, but he does have some skin in this game: he’s a fan of frequency maps, which he suggests solves the problems of the other two kinds, and in fact has produced frequency maps for Luxembourg (above) and Utrecht. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in transit map design.
Writing on the Royal Scottish Geographic Society’s blog, Bruce Gittings challenges the notion that putting Shetland in an inset box is a map error:
It is plainly not: it is a cartographic compromise. And there are always implications to a compromise. To include the Northern Isles in their actual geographical location, separated from the mainland by almost 100 miles of water, would reduce the scale at which the country can be displayed by around 40%.
That means Scotland’s smaller Council Areas (e.g. Dundee) effectively disappear, reduced from any kind of area to an insignificant point, or major features such as the Firths of Tay and Forth lost under text-labels for Dundee and Edinburgh. We are left having to put the Central Belt in a zoom-box because of the loss of detail in areas where most people live, or having to use two sheets of paper rather than one for maps of Scotland. […]
The circumstance of Shetland-in-a-box (and indeed Orkney-in-a-box-too) is a feature of maps intended to display our entire country with a reasonable level of detail.
Previously: Don’t Put Shetland in a Box.
Holy cow—if you like fantasy maps, spend some time looking at New Orleans. WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON WITH THIS CITY?! If this came in from a freelancer, there are half a dozen things that would raise my eyebrows. pic.twitter.com/ApqYYWlE8d
— James L. Sutter (@jameslsutter) March 19, 2018
Don’t miss writer and game designer James L. Sutter critiquing New Orleans as though it was a city from a fantasy novel. A major criticism of fantasy maps, whether of cities or worlds, is their lack of realism: unrealistic rivers, mountains and so forth. New Orleans, with its totally unrealistic terrain, doesn’t pass the test. “Please clean up your map and resubmit when it follows the rules of a real-world city,” Sutter concludes.
Here’s something to do if you’re in the United Arab Emirates. Opening tomorrow (23 March) at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and running until 2 June, Globes: Visions of the World presents works from the Bibliothèque nationale de France and other loaned works, including more than 40 globes.
Starting with the great minds of ancient Greece, the exhibition follows humanity’s never-ending quest for knowledge and adventure. Uncover the vital role played by the pioneering scientists of the Islamic world, and track the ancient science of astronomy as it passed through Muslim Spain in the 10th and the 11th centuries. See the earliest-known celestial globes from the Islamic world and one of the earliest known Arab astrolabe in the world.
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 results. Atlas 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.”
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.
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, iNews, The 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]