The End of Maps in Seven Charts

Here’s a short talk from last year by Washington Post graphics editor Darla Cameron, who points out that many maps actually show population density rather than the data they purport to show. “Just because you have geographic data, that doesn’t mean that a map is a best way to tell the story.” She offers some alternative ways to present information—non-cartographic ways—that in some cases do a better job than a map could. (Heretical, I know.) In a similar vein, read the blog post by Matthew Ericson that she refers to at the end of the talk: “When Maps Shouldn’t Be Maps.” [via]

Garmin Is Buying DeLorme

Garmin has announced that it is buying Maine-based GPS manufacturer DeLorme. “Garmin will retain most of the associates of DeLorme and will continue operations at its existing location in Yarmouth, Maine following the completion of the acquisition. The Yarmouth facility will operate primarily as a research and development facility and will continue to develop two-way satellite communication devices and technologies. Financial terms of the purchase agreement and acquisition will not be released.” (Presumably that means that Eartha won’t be moved to Olathe.)

Previously: Big Eartha; DeLorme’s Early History; DeLorme Profiled.

‘The Unlikeliest of Tech Moguls’

Forbes has a profile of Esri and its 70-year-old founder, Jack Dangermond, which continues to thrive despite the arrival of Google and other entrants in the digital mapping arena.

[A]s Google aimed its maps mostly at consumers, Esri was able to hold on to its revenue base among power users in business, government and other organizations. Google is great for directions or locating your home on Zillow. But if you are, say, the Bavarian police charged with securing the G7 Summit near Munich and need a detailed real-time dashboard that can pinpoint every delegation, police officer, emergency vehicle, first responder, protest site, road closure, mountain trail and access point to the summit’s venue, you’ll use Esri. Last year Google pulled the plug on a halfhearted push into enterprise maps and began moving its customers to Esri.

Notable that Esri has stayed private rather than raising capital through the stock market, which in the tech sector is just unbelievable. Its estimated value is $3 billion.

The Stolen Champlain Map’s Return to the Boston Public Library

champlain-map

After Forbes Smiley was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for stealing nearly 100 maps from a number of different libraries, and maps were returned to the libraries he stole them from, there were still some missing pieces to the puzzle. There were maps in Smiley’s possession that had not been claimed; there were maps missing from libraries that Smiley did not admit to stealing, though he was recorded as the last person to see the map before it went missing.

Continue reading “The Stolen Champlain Map’s Return to the Boston Public Library”

Mapping Swiss German Dialects

swiss-german-app

Researchers are mapping the shift in Swiss German dialect usage via an iOS app. The app asks users to take a 16-question survey based on maps from a language atlas that mapped Swiss German usage circa 1950. The app predicts the user’s actual home dialect location based on those maps; differences between that prediction and the user’s actual home dialect location reveal how Swiss German has changed over time. They ended up getting responses from 60,000 speakers. PLOS ONE article. [via]

Walking and Mapping

walking-mapping The paperback edition of Karen O’Rourke’s Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers (MIT Press, 2013) comes out this week. From the publisher: “In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke explores a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. She offers close readings of these projects—many of which she was able to experience firsthand—and situates them in relation to landmark works from the past half-century. Together, they form a new entity, a dynamic whole greater than the sum of its parts.” [viaBuy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

GPS and the First Gulf War

Scientific American on how the U.S. military used GPS during the first Gulf War in 1991—the first war in which GPS played a major role. “GPS would change warfare and soon became an indispensible asset for adventurers, athletes and commuters as well. The navigation system has become so ubiquitous, in fact, that the Pentagon has come full circle and is investing tens of millions of dollars to help the military overcome its heavy dependence on the technology.”

Weekend Read: Denis Wood

Inverse has an interview with iconoclastic cartographer Denis Wood, in which he is as thought-provoking as ever (e.g., “Maps are arguments about the way we think the world should be or could be. They are arguments made in graphic form.”). [via]

Not mentioned in the interview—but mentioned in this 2014 Wired piece and in Unmappable, a short documentary about Wood that is currently making the rounds of the film festival circuit—is Wood’s 1996 conviction for sex with a minor and subsequent prison term, a fact that is public but not necessarily talked about openly (despite blogging frequently about his work, I only learned about it through the Wired piece) and makes discussing Wood and his work rather complicated: mention the fact and it overshadows, fail to mention it and it’s conspicuous by its absence. Either way, ignoring Wood is difficult.

Weekend Read: ‘You Are Here’

Oftentimes in Japan, I had no idea where I was going. The moments when I did felt like a perfect alignment of puzzle pieces that made the in-betweens worth it. I imagined myself like those ancient cartographers, trying to make sense of the jumble of crepes and onigiri, shrines and skyscrapers, neon and origami. I made my own maps, rewriting them over the ones I had hastily constructed on the flight over. I began to understand how mapping a place, even sketchily, can feel like owning a piece of it.

Emma Talkoff writes in the Harvard Crimson’s Fifteen Minutes magazine about her encounters with maps new and old during her time in Japan. [via]

Bailey Henderson’s Sea Monster Sculptures

Sea monsters are a familiar feature of early modern European maps. Toronto-based sculptor Bailey Henderson has rendered them in real life, casting them in bronze and then painting them. It’s incredible work that really does evoke the original. More details at Hi-Fructose magazine. [via]

For more sea monsters on maps, see my review of Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps. You should also be aware that #MapMonsterMonday is a thing on Twitter.

Judgmental Maps

judgmental-albuquerqueJudgmental Maps is a blog that posts snarky, profane city maps—basically, city maps overlain with snarky labels of various neighbourhoods—submitted by readers. (Think of the project as Yanko Tsvetkov but with less talent.) A map of Albuquerque posted there last March got noticed by a local radio station, which naturally stirred up some local controversy. This seems to happen a lot: last month it was Orlando. I’m sure this means something, though it’s escaping me at the moment. [via]

The State of the Middle East Atlas

state-middleeastI feel a little embarrassed by my constant linking to Geographical magazine’s book reviews, but they point to books, particularly British books, that I otherwise hadn’t heard of—such as Dan Smith’s State of the Middle East Atlas (New Internationalist, November 2015), the third edition of which was just published. From Laura Cole’s review: “[T]he atlas has been revised with new analyses of the region since the Arab Spring began in 2011 as well as the latest on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the refugee crisis and foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. Smith, cartographer and director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has kept up with the compelling changes and complicated dynamics of Middle Eastern politics.” Buy at Amazon U.K.