Alejandro Polanco’s Lost Worlds

Speaking of lost islands, invented places, myths and mistakes, our friend Alejandro Polanco’s latest project is this poster map of lost worlds—he calls it “the fantasy map I always dreamed of.” See his blog post (in Spanish) or the project’s Kickstarter page:

Over the last twenty years, in my work as a graphic designer and mapmaker, I have enjoyed reading numerous books on lost continents, mythological animals, phantom islands and cartographic errors. However, I have never found all those ingredients gathered in a single fantasy map. That’s why I decided to create “Lost Worlds,” a poster in which I have compiled some of the main details about lost continents, historical errors on famous maps, islands that once were believed to really exist, fantastic animals. . . . The documentation work has been meticulous and, for the final design, I have chosen the cases that I consider to be the most representative. It is, in short, a map to feed our imagination and our dreams.

Like his previous project, Minimal Geography, it’s full of inset maps and descriptive text. The main map locates lost continents, phantom islands and cryptid creatures; the inset maps include examples of old maps that contain the sorts of imaginary and erroneous features Edward Brooke-Hitching covers in The Phantom Atlas.

Alejandro is, as I mentioned, crowdfunding this map on Kickstarter, where it’s already past its (nominal) target. Available as a digital download; prices start at €6 (higher tiers include other products.

A Refugee Camp Mapped by Refugees

UNHCR

Brian Tomaszewski writes about his project to train Syrian refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to map the camp. “They have intimate knowledge of the camp’s layout, understand where important resources are located and benefit most from camp maps.” Over 18 months his team trained 10 refugees basic concepts, field collection techniques, and how to map with mobile phones. “Within a relatively short amount of time, they were able to create professional maps that now serve camp management staff and refugees themselves.” His team is now working on obtaining GIS certifications for some of them. [Leventhal]

See also “GIS for Refugees, by Refugees,” an article Tomaszewski wrote for the Summer 2017 issue of ArcNews.

Vignelli in D.C.

In the 1970s, Vignelli Associates—Massimo and Lella Vignelli—made a bid to design the maps for the Washington Metro. That gig went to Lance Wyman. The Vignelli Archives recently unearthed some presentation boards and design sketches from their bid; CityLab has more details. Cameron Booth notes that these are hardly new discoveries, as they’d appeared recently in Peter Lloyd and Mark Ovenden’s Vignelli Transit Maps, which came out in 2012.

Booth has recreated a digital version of one of Vignelli’s map sketches—a hexagonal grid concept that appeared in Vignelli Transit Maps—as well as a full, modern system diagram in the same style; he’s selling the latter as a poster.

New Books for May 2018

Art

Helen Cann’s How to Make Hand Drawn Maps: A Creative Guide With Tips, Tricks, and Projects (Chronicle, 1 May paperback, 22 May ebook). “With wonderful examples and easy-to-follow instructions, this beautifully illustrated how-to book makes it simple and fun to create one-of-a-kind hand-drawn maps. Helpful templates, grids, and guidelines complement a detailed breakdown of essential cartographic elements and profiles of talented international map artists.” Amazon, iBooks

Academic Monographs

I trained as a historian of the French Third Republic, so Kory Olson’s The Cartographic Capital: Mapping Third Republic Paris, 1889-1934 (Liverpool University Press, 4 May), which “looks at how government presentations of Paris and environs change over the course of the Third Republic (1889-1934),” would have very much been up my alley twenty years ago. “The government initially seemed to privilege an exclusively positive view of the capital city and limited its presentation of it to land inside the walled fortifications. However, as the Republic progressed and Paris grew, technology altered how Parisians used and understood their urban space.” Amazon

Chris Barrett’s Early Modern English Literature and the Poetics of Cartographic Anxiety (Oxford University Press, 22 May) is about “the many anxieties provoked by early modern maps and mapping in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A product of a military arms race, often deployed for security and surveillance purposes, and fundamentally distortive of their subjects, maps provoked suspicion, unease, and even hostility in early modern Britain. […]  This volume explores three major poems of the period—Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596), Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion (1612, 1622), and John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667, 1674)—in terms of their vexed and vexing relationships with cartographic materials.” Amazon, iBooks

Related: Map Books of 2018.

Mapping the 2018 Colombian Presidential Election, First Round

The first round of Colombia’s presidential election was held yesterday. Reddit user jesaub posted this map of the first-round results to r/MapPorn; unlike other maps I’ve seen, it drills down to the municipal level, but as a static map (and fairly low-res at that) it’s not able to show much else. For an interactive map of the results, see El Tiempo’s page, which maps by department but provides municipal-level results via search.

Mapping the Irish Referendum Results

L to R: Referendum Ireland, RTÉ News, The Irish Times.

Even an overwhelming vote margin can be interesting to map, but I’m a bit disappointed with the maps of the Irish referendum held last Friday on whether to repeal Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. The official Referendum Ireland website, the Irish Times and RTÉ News all use two-colour constituency map (one colour for yes, another for no); the Irish Times goes a little further and shows choropleth maps for the yes and no sides, but quartiles don’t reveal very much either. The Guardian and even Wikipedia show more granularity. [Maps Mania]

Update: Lots and lots of choropleth maps on the Irish Political Maps Twitter account.

Oh Look, Another Privacy Policy Update

So The Map Room has had a privacy policy (of sorts) for years, but since all the cool kids have been updating theirs in preparation for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, I’ve gone and done the same. This policy, posted on my personal website, will apply to all the websites I own and operate: since they’re all one-person operations, and I’m the person in every case, it didn’t make sense to be repetitive. Also, said operations are likely too small, too inconsequential and too uncontroversial to invite scrutiny from European regulators, and anyway at the moment I don’t hold any personal data unless you comment or contact me via a web form. It seems politic to spell that out in detail, though.

Mapping Global Fresh Water Availability

NASA Earth Observatory: “The map above depicts changes in water storage on Earth—on the surface, underground, and locked in ice and snow—between 2002 and 2016. Shades of green represent areas where freshwater levels have increased, while browns depict areas where they have been depleted. Data were collected by the GRACE mission, which precisely measured the distance between twin spacecraft as they responded to changes in Earth’s gravity field. In sensing the subtle movements of mass around the planet, the satellites could decipher monthly variations in terrestrial water storage.” The GRACE observations form the basis of a study published this month in Nature on changes in global fresh water availability. More at the JPL’s GRACE-FO project page. [Benjamin Hennig]

Peggy Osher, 1929-2018

Peggy Osher died Tuesday at the age of 88, the Portland Press-Herald reports. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She and her husband, the cardiologist Dr. Harold Osher, who survives her, donated their sizeable map collection to the University of Southern Maine in 1989 and advocated the creation of a dedicated map library; the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education opened in October 1994Her obituary notes that in 1974 she convinced her husband to buy a map on a trip to London—a decision that escalated, as it often does. The Osher family was profiled in 2011 by Maine magazine. [WMS]

Inaccurate Maps of the Ebola Virus Outbreak

World Health Organization

The Atlantic’s Ed Yong looks at a problem in the public health response to this month’s Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo: inaccurate maps of the areas affected by the virus.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization released a map showing parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are currently being affected by Ebola. The map showed four cases in Wangata, one of three “health zones” in the large city of Mbandaka. Wangata, according to the map, lies north of the main city, in a forested area on the other side of a river.

That is not where Wangata is.

“It’s actually here, in the middle of Mbandaka city,” says Cyrus Sinai, indicating a region about 8 miles farther south, on a screen that he shares with me over Skype.

Almost all the maps of the outbreak zone that have thus far been released contain mistakes of this kind. Different health organizations all seem to use their own maps, most of which contain significant discrepancies. Things are roughly in the right place, but their exact positions can be off by miles, as can the boundaries between different regions. […]

To be clear, there’s no evidence that these problems are hampering the response to the current outbreak. It’s not like doctors are showing up in the middle of the forest, wondering why they’re in the wrong place. “Everyone on the ground knows where the health zones start and end,” says Sinai. “I don’t think this will make or break the response. But you surely want the most accurate data.”

The WHO map in question, reproduced at the top of this post, can be found here. See Virology Down Under’s roundup of maps put out by the various NGOs, which the Atlantic article refers to.

A Gang of Hungarian Map Thieves on Trial in France

“French prosecutors on Thursday sought prison terms of up to seven years for a group of Hungarians on trial over accusations they stole rare maps worth millions of euros from a string of French libraries,” Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (Expatica France, The Local). The group of seven reportedly cut maps from books in libraries in cities like Lille, Nancy and Toulouse; they were caught when one of them was stopped by Hungarian customs officials. We usually talk about map thieves as single, even singular individuals, but a gang of map thieves? Move aside, Smiley. [Tony Campbell/WMS]

Mapping Denali in Detail

Matt Nolan and his family have created a topographic map of Denali, the highest peak in North America, using a form of stereo photogrammetry Nolan calls fodar: they repeatedly overflew the peak in a small airplane and took photos of the terrain below with a digital SLR. The end result is a 20-cm terrain model they’re touting as the best ever of the mountain, far more detailed than previous maps. Nolan outlines their endeavour in two blog posts: one focusing on the personal, the other on the technical; the latter also has lots of terrain models and comparisons with USGS data.

He’s also running a crowdfunding campaign to underwrite the costs of additional map flights. [WMS]