The Ordnance Survey’s GeoDataViz team looks back at their favourite maps and data visualizations from 2021. A very wide-ranging collection, some of which are downright quirky.
The BBC’s Jonathan Amos looks at the ways satellites have collected imagery and data on the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai1 volcanic eruption.
A new exhibit on the relationship between maps and literature, Mapping Fiction, opened on January 15th at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. “On view in the Library’s West Hall, the exhibition is timed to coincide with the centennial of the publication of James Joyce’s groundbreaking 1922 modernist novel, Ulysses. […] About 70 items will be on view, focused on novels and maps from the 16th through the 20th century—largely early editions of books that include elaborate maps of imaginary worlds.” Tickets required; runs until May 2nd. More from the Guardian. [WMS]
At Knowable, Cristy Gelling looks at new interpretations of Tupaia’s map of the Pacific Ocean. Tupaia was a Polynesian navigator who became attached to Cook’s expedition. His map, drawn beginning in 1769, has confounded observers because its islands do not line up with the actual geography of the Pacific’s islands. One 2018 study deciphers the map with an alternative, more complicated arrangement in which north is at the centre of the map. This proposal is not universally accepted.
Richard Peter Johnson has been posting quizzes on Reddit where the shapes of countries and U.S. states are flipped, rotated and/or inverted and you’re challenged to identify them. It’s actually harder than you might think—especially when they’re inverted or mirror-flipped—and messes with your perception in the way that, say, upside-down world maps do.
The New York Times looks at the death rates from COVID-19 after vaccines became widely available. Along with analyses of racial and age groups, there is this on the geographic front: “Where people are dying of Covid-19 also has changed since vaccines became widely available. Death rates fell in most counties across the country, and in about one in five counties, the death rate fell by more than half. But in about one in 10 counties, death rates have more than doubled.”
Bloomberg CityLab is continuing its COVID-19 mapping project: they’ve issued another call for reader-submitted maps. “[T]he new year is a chance to take stock of where we stand now. Once again, Bloomberg CityLab invites you to make a map that reflects on how your world has shifted or been reframed during the pandemic.” Due date is 17 January.
Last week, when a snowstorm closed Interstate 80 east of Sacramento, Google Maps started redirecting traffic up poorly maintained mountain roads, which is about as good an idea during a blizzard as it sounds.
.@googlemaps This is an abject failure. You are sending people up a poorly maintained forest road to their death in a severe blizzard. Hire people who can address winter storms in your code (or maybe get some of your engineers who are stuck in Tahoe right now on it). pic.twitter.com/IzagAXzBtA
— Dr. Crystal A. Kolden 🔥 (@pyrogeog) December 28, 2021
Other dispatches from Twitter allege that the service—particularly its mobile app—directed people to closed-off highways, mountain passes and lakeside roads to get around. This is in direct contrast to Caltrans’ messaging to avoid workarounds. Caltrans District 3 spokesperson Steve Nelson told SFGATE on Monday that they were seeing drivers trying to skirt highway closures with side streets. “They’ll take side roads and try and sneak past the closures, and that never ends well,” he said.
Google engineer Sören Meyer-Eppler responded on Twitter to spell out some of the technical and logistical problems involved in rerouting traffic during bad weather: the difficulty in finding timely data (and in such cases data need to be really timely) and the risk of false positives. More at Jalopnik.
Vice: “In an attempt to locate his birth family, a man who was abducted at the age of four resorted to drawing a map of his childhood hometown from memory and posting it online. The map went viral in China, resulting in the 37-year-old reconnecting this week with his long-lost mother, whom he is set to see for the first time in 33 years on Jan. 1.” [MAPS-L]
An Evolution of Cartography is an online workshop offered by the Guardian as part of a series they’re calling masterclasses. “In this insightful masterclass with experts from Ordnance Survey, you will discover how maps, and our relationship to them, have evolved over time. You will learn how the way that a map is designed can influence the way in which it is interpreted, and why this means that even the most authoritative map may not be as objective as we think.” The three-hour course, taught by the OS’s Paul Naylor and Jess Baker, focuses on data visualizations and map techniques. It takes place on Thursday, 17 March 2022 and costs £89 plus booking fee. [WMS]
“I call this ‘map heaven,’” said G. Salim Mohammed, the center’s head and curator. “This is a place where maps come alive.”
The San Francisco Chronicle’s piece on the David Rumsey Map Center (paywalled; alternative Apple News+ link) focuses on the digital experiments undertaken by the center to make maps more accessible. (Examples we’ve covered here previously include digitally assembled versions of the Urbano Monte Map and a 1940 model of San Francisco, and also an AR globe app.) [David Rumsey Map Collection]
Freelance cartographer Hal Jespersen has created more than 200 maps for various Wikipedia articles on battles in the U.S. Civil War. They are available for free download—both as PNGs and as source files—under a Creative Commons licence. [WMS]
Before we’re completely out of the holiday season, I should mention that one of the 34 Christmas movies premiering on the Lifetime network just this year is relevant to our interests: Maps and Mistletoe,1 which premiered on the channel on 13 December. “Emilia Martin (Humberly González), a cartographer of school maps, has plans for a cozy Christmas at home until her boss has a last-minute project for her, designing a novelty treasure map of the North Pole. Emilia decides to seek out the expertise of North Pole explorer Drew Campbell (Ronnie Rowe), who reluctantly agrees to help her. As the two work closely, they discover more than either of them ever expected.” Not going to yuck what might be someone else’s yum. [MAPS-L]