The Onion: The Cartographers’ Secret Continent

The Onion: World’s Cartographers Continue Living Secret Life of Luxury on Idyllic, Never Disclosed 8th Continent. “‘Ah, yes—this is the life,’ said topographical researcher Garrett Farthing, chuckling to himself as he delicately put the finishing touches on yet another map showing their current location to be an empty stretch of the Pacific Ocean while being fed grapes by a trained monkey from an ultra-docile species found only on their lush, temperate, 3.5-million-square-mile landmass. […] No non-cartographer should ever sully this place with their uncultured presence.” You just had to blab, Onion. [WMS]

The Ordnance Survey’s April Fool’s Island

The Ordnance Survey isn’t above an April Fool’s prank, it seems. For the April 2018 issue of Country Walking magazine, they created a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean that “had been lost to the sea centuries ago, only for it to have now mysteriously risen out of the waves in need of mapping.” (Its name, “Hy-Breasal,” might have been a tip-off.) In a post on the Ordnance Survey’s blog, cartographer Mark Wolstenholme explains how he used existing OS mapping to create a made-up island in a very short time frame.

After an aborted attempt at cutting up Lundy, I chose the Outer Hebrides’ isle of Pabbay for the main part of our new island. To disguise its origin, I flipped and rotated the island. To achieve that, all the names, symbols and vegetation had to stripped off, and because OS Explorer mapping is a raster image, that meant a lot of pixel selecting in Photoshop. Another restriction with the raster, meant I could only rotate the island by 90 or 180 degrees. Any other angle would re-interpolate the pixels and the print quality would be lost.

To further disguise the island, I looked for a smaller island to add, this time taken from the Orkney Islands. This was joined by the addition of an area of sand and reworked low water line. To finish the shaping, I added a handful of rocky outcrops around the coast as well as some mud, sand and a redrawn high-water line through the dunes. A bigger loch was hand drawn and is unique to this island.

Adding new features and Easter eggs in Illustrator and Photoshop came next. Read the post for the details.

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.”

Atlas Obscura Wants a Map of Your Dream Island

Atlas Obscura is asking readers to draw a map of their perfect dream island and send it in to them. That’s something I can absolutely get behind.

If you could make an island to your exact specifications, what would it look like? What would make it unique—the true island of your individual dreams?

Maybe your island is made entirely of recycled bottles, or only accepts currency featuring Darth Vader. Perhaps your island is set up as a villains’ lair, or populated with magical creatures that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Is your island an expansive paradise that will take years to explore, or a simple spot of sand surrounded by boundless ocean? Does it have a treehouse? A mansion? Is there a skull-shaped cave? A water park? A hidden base in a volcano? Mischievous monkeys? Pirate ghosts? A lost society of evolved super-beings?

You’ve got until, uh, tomorrow afternoon. Atlas Obscura will publish their favourites on Friday.

The Great Map of Movieland

The Great Map of Movieland is a whimsical map that plots 1,800 movie titles on an imaginary terrain. Film genres appear as regions (Adventure Plains, Coming of Age Peninsula) and the films themselves appear as towns, with town size correlating to a film’s importance. (It’s a bit odd to see Star Wars and Star Trek in the Adventure Plains rather than the Sci-Fi Mountains, and I’m not sure what the significance of the highways are, nor why Casablanca and The Return of the King are right next to one another.) The brainchild of 31-year-old French designer David Honnorat, the map was a subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign last fall and is now available, via David’s store, as a 26×36″ print; the price is €40. [Boing Boing]

A Book Roundup

The Routledge Handbook

Out last month, the expensive, 600-page Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography (Routledge). Edited by Alexander J. Kent (who co-wrote The Red Atlas) and Peter Vujakovic, the book “draws on the wealth of new scholarship and practice in this emerging field, from the latest conceptual developments in mapping and advances in map-making technology to reflections on the role of maps in society. It brings together 43 engaging chapters on a diverse range of topics, including the history of cartography, map use and user issues, cartographic design, remote sensing, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and map art.” [The History of Cartography Project]

New Academic Books

New academic books on maps and cartography published over the past couple of months include:

More on Books We’ve Heard of Before

National Geographic interviews Malachy Tallack, the author of The Un-Discovered Islands, and The Guardian shares seven maps from James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Where the Animals Go.

Related: Map Books of 2017.

The Isle of Bait

The Future Mapping Company has announced the discovery of a new island 20 kilometres off the coast of Great Britain. They have naturally already produced a new map of this island.

The Isle of Bait is a small, beautiful and untouched paradise, but there is a hitch—it is only visible through the Face Swap Snapchat filter.

It appears that a glitch during the most recent geological shift caused a permanent geofence to go up around the island, preventing it from being visible to the naked eye.

Geocached for so long, local authorities are debating whether to rename landmarks and points of interest to bring the island into the post-Brexit era. Bay of Bright Futures, the Eneychestuary and Happiness Hill are all remnants of a past that is no longer a reality for the rest of the country. Toblerone Ridge, a local favourite for its distinctive jagged shape, may be the worst affected as plans to widen the gaps between peaks are unveiled as part of a “Greater Value Modernisation Programme.”

For this reason, this map is already a collector’s item, so we would advise acting now before the facts are revealed to be of an alternative nature.

Not since the discoveries of Null Island or San Seriffe has there been news of this magnitude—indeed, this announcement comes 40 years to the day after the Guardian published its supplement on the latter island.

San Serriffe

San SerriffeOn 1 April 1977, the Guardian published something that has become known as one of the finest April Fool’s gags in history: a seven-page supplement about the fictional, “semi-colonial” island of San Serriffe, complete with a map (at right) full of typographic puns and gags. The Guardian has a page on the gag and has reprinted a couple of the articles here and herethe Museum of Hoaxes has scans of the entire supplement.

Null Island

zero-zeroZero degrees longitude, zero degrees latitude is literally nowhere: situated in the middle of the open ocean, off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, the only thing to mark its presence is a weather observation buoy [via]. But it’s also a significant set of coordinates, in that it’s the location you might get in the case of geocoding errors.

Hence the invention of Null Island, an imaginary place to flag geocoding failures. It shows up in version 1.3 of Natural Earth, for example, as an island one square metre in size, but coded so that it would never appear in an actual map. Gary Vicchi explains Null Island in more detail. As is the way of fictional places, Null Island has grown in the imagination: it has its own website, replete with sections on its history, geography, people and economy, and its own flag.

More on ‘A Map of Every City’

Without question, the most popular post on The Map Room so far this week—by two orders of magnitude—was this post pointing to Chaz Hutton’s “A Map of Every City.” Hutton’s map went kind of viral, and not just here. He’s since announced that a print of the map will be available at some point; he’s also written a post on Medium explaining some of the background behind the map.

Andy Woodruff’s Islands of Boston

boston-population-islands

Andy Woodruff imagines Boston neighbourhoods as islands, where any unpopulated areas—commercial districts, industrial areas, highways, parks—are represented as water. “Some neighborhoods of the Boston area are actual islands, or were at one point. Others, however, can feel that way even when connected to each other by land. Water isn’t the only thing that can create a gulf between neighborhoods; sometimes it’s created by features of the urban landscape and the experience of passing through them.” [via]