Erin Davis’s Average Colours of the World

Map: Average Colors of the World (Erin Davis)
Erin Davis

Erin Davis has created maps showing the average colour of each country of the world (plus  maps showing the average colour of each U.S. state and county). She derived the average colour from Sentinel-2 natural-colour satellite imagery; she appends the process and the code to the end of her post. [My Modern Met]

Algonquin Bead Artist to Reinterpret Cold War Maps

The Diefenbunker is a Cold War-era fallout shelter on the outskirts of Ottawa that has since been converted into a museum. Its large floor maps, never used or displayed, are serving as grist for an Indigenous artist in residence, CBC Ottawa reports:

As the new artist in residence at Ottawa’s Diefenbunker Museum, Mairi Brascoupé is blending Cold War-era maps and beadwork to explore the idea of “place” during times of change.

Brascoupé, a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, wants to weave her own story by exploring the differences between cultures of Indigenous people and settlers.

She plans to use waterways and traplines in contrast with fallout zones, evacuation plans, and other details of the museum’s maps.

Esri’s New Giant Globe

“When you are a global Geographic Information Technology company with a globe in your logo, you don’t shy away from the opportunity to have a great big glorious 8.5-foot diameter illuminated rotating globe in your new office building. But what sort of globe cartography do you design? How should this gigantic model of our lovely home planet appear?” John Nelson and Sean Breyer explain the design and construction process behind Esri’s new globe—a custom Earthball manufactured by Orbis World Globes.

Google Maps: Android My Maps Discontinued, Transit Crowdedness Feature Expanded

The Google My Maps Android app is being closed down in October. You may remember that My Maps is a feature allowing users to create custom maps on the Google Maps platform relatively easily. To be honest I wasn’t aware that it had its own Android app; once that’s closed it will be available via the web. Andro4all worries (Spanish) that this is a sign that My Maps could be discontinued, which on the one hand seems a bit premature, but on the other, well, Google does have a track record. [Alejandro Polanca]

Meanwhile, Google Maps has expanded its feature that predicts crowdedness on transit lines—useful when it’s still very much not a great idea to be in a packed subway car—to 10,000 agencies in 100 countries. [Macworld]

The Geospatial Revolution Project: Mapping the Pandemic

A decade after the Geospatial Revolution Project, which explored the use and impact of digital mapping technologies, released its fourth and (apparently) final episode, there’s a new episode focusing on how digital mapping tools were conscripted into the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Project has posted a version of the episode including a live panel discussion afterward on Facebook Live.

Previously: The Geospatial Revolution Project; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Two; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Three; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Four; Maps and the Geospatial Revolution.

xkcd: The Greenland Special

xkcd: Bad Map Projections: The Greenland Special
Randall Munroe, “Bad Map Projection: The Greenland Special,” xkcd, 14 July 2021

At some point, xkcd cartoonist Randall Munroe is going to put out a book focusing on his map-related cartoons, isn’t he. The latest in his “Bad Map Projection” series (previously: All South Americas, Time Zones, Liquid Resize) is The Greenland Special, an equal-area projection except for Greenland, which uses Mercator. And I thought he was messing with us before.

Google Maps Called Out for Showing ‘Potentially Fatal’ Mountain Routes

The Guardian: “Scottish mountaineering charities have criticised Google for suggesting routes up Ben Nevis and other mountains they say are ‘potentially fatal’ and direct people over a cliff.” Google Maps’s issue with Ben Nevis is that it routes to a parking lot nearest the summit, then more or less straight-lines it from there; as a dotted line it’s meant to indicate a route very imprecisely, but it also corresponds to a higher-difficulty ascent route that could land even experienced hikers in trouble. Not meant to be taken by people who don’t know what they’re doing—the people who might have no clue that it’s a bad idea to use Google Maps for mountain hiking, for example.

To be clear, I think this one’s on Google. A lot of people trust online maps implicitly because they have poor navigation skills and have a hard time overruling what the directions tell them: this is why people keep driving into rivers and onto tracks. It’s a design failure not to account for this in every circumstance.

CDC Vaccination Maps

Screenshot of CDC Covid Data Tracker map showing county-level vaccination equity in the United States
CDC (screenshot)

Maps tracking the progress of the U.S.’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker (now) include an interactive county-level map showing first and second doses among 12+, 18+ and 65+ populations and a map of vaccine equity (above): a bivariate choropleth map showing the relationship between vaccination coverage and social vulnerability (housing, vehicle access, general poverty).

The Mother of Landsat

Virginia Tower Northwood is sometimes called “the mother of Landsat” for her invention of the multispectral scanner that was launched aboard Landsat 1. An alumna of MIT, she is the subject of this long profile by Alice Dragoon in the MIT Technology Review, which looks her entire career, which prior to Landsat involved radar and antenna design—including, notably, the transmitter on the Surveyor 1 lunar lander. See also this profile on NASA’s Landsat Science page.

Peter Bolt’s Bespoke 3D Relief Models


Since 2013, Peter Bolt—whose company is called Landfall—has been making bespoke 3D relief models based on from nautical charts, Ordnance Survey maps and aerial photographs (see his portfolio for examples). The models are layered along contour lines—a process that can be seen in several of his videos. Everything is a custom job, made by hand; prices begin around £250 for an A4-sized model and go up from there.

Cross-stitched Earth Science Maps

Kara Prior cross-stitches earth science maps; her work includes a series of state bedrock geology maps (see also Reddit) and a bathymetry map of the Great Lakes (above), among other things. She has an Etsy store.

Fun with Lego and Spreadsheets

Jon Schwabish has been building the Lego world map (previously), but he’s also been building a spreadsheet version. “Because the map is laid out in a grid, it’s primed to be built in Excel. And voila, I present to you the Excel version of the Lego World Map! I built a grid in a big Excel spreadsheet with each number then placed in the appropriate spot according to the instructions. Each number is then assigned a color using Excel’s Conditional Formatting menu.” Good for making drafts of your Lego map, or also if you can’t lay hands on the real thing.

Mapbox Employees Trying to Unionize

Bloomberg: “Employees at Mapbox Inc., which makes mapping tools used by Instacart Inc. and Snap Inc., have announced their intention to unionize, making them the latest group of tech workers to embrace organized labor in a traditionally nonunion industry.” Two-thirds of Mapbox’s 222 U.S. employees have signed union cards; in an internal statement Monday, Mapbox declined to voluntarily recognize the Mapbox Workers Union—which presumably means that there will be a government-supervised vote on whether to unionize.

Upcoming Conference: Mapping the Pacific

Taking place on 25 and 26 August 2021 in Sydney, Australia, Mapping the Pacific will be a hybrid (in-person and streamed) conference that will explore “the traditional wayfinding knowledge of the Pacific community, European exploration and the mapping of the Pacific from the early modern era through to the 19th century.” Registration is not yet open.