I first learned about a couple of these connections several years ago. I don’t quite remember how or where, but I found out that the Mercator projection was equivalent to a Lambert Conformal Conic with the standard parallels set opposite each other across the Equator. And that if you moved both those parallels up to a pole, you got a Stereographic. My mind was suitably blown, and I saved it as a fun fact to share with people. This year, while working on The Projection Collection, I spent a lot of time on daan Strebe’s site looking up details, and I often saw his notes (usually derived from Snyder/Voxland) about how projections were related to each other. I started to realize there were a lot of these connections out there, and I thought it might be fun to diagram them in some way.
The diagram is digital-only (PDF) and donationware.
A couple months back, I floated an idea for making some fun trading cards based on map projections. I’m very happy to report that several dozen of you responded and contributed designs to help make the set happen. I’ve been spending several weeks on managing everyone and working through logistics, and I’m pleased to now be able to offer a pre-order of The Projection Collection.
The cards can be pre-ordered here, with delivery later this year (or pickup at NACIS). Each pack has 16 cards, with complete sets not available by design—these are meant to be trading cards in the classic sense. Pre-orders will close on July 6, so you have until then.
To follow-up on xkcd’s Madagascator cartoon (previously), I missed the fact that clicking on the cartoon at the xkcd website actually did something, but Keir caught it: it links to Drew Roos’s Mercator: Extreme, an online tool that allows you to have some fun with the Mercator projection’s excessive polar distortion by making any point on the planet the North Pole and which clearly served as Randall’s inspiration.
Randall Munroe’s map projection humour is increasingly on point, as last Friday’s xkcd demonstrates. (The mouseover text is even better: “There are two rules on this ship: Never gaze back into the projection abyss, and never touch the red button labeled DYMAXION.”)
Stefan Reifenberg’s Map Projection Explorer is another interactive tool that morphs a world map into the projection of your choice. The availability of data from the d3.js library seems to be enabling a lot of them. [r/Maps]
The Spilhaus projection has been available to ArcGIS Pro users for nearly two years. Now, to expand the Spilhaus’s availability beyond ArcGIS users, John Nelson provides vector assets suitable for designers working in, say, Illustrator.
A lot of fun can be had at Florian Ledermann’s Map Projection Playground, which loads up nearly a hundred map projections for you to manipulate: controls enable you to change the centre meridian and several other parameters. You can even overlay a simplified Tissot’s indicatrix! [Maps Mania]
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.
It’s a shame that Sarah Battersby’s essay in The International Journal of Cartography, “The Unicorn of Map Projections,” is behind a paywall: it looks at the recent rash of map projections that purport to solve “all our mapping problems.” There have been more than a few that have claimed the title of “most accurate map”; Battersby refers to these projections as a class as unicorns. The most recent example of this I dismissed as the cartographic equivalent of a spherical cow; five years ago there was also Narukawa’s AuthaGraph map; and of course there was the Peters map.
Today is The Map Room’s 18th anniversary. When I started this blog back in March 2003, it was as an exercise in self-education: I liked maps a lot, but knew very little about them, and thought that the blogging process would enable me to learn things and share what I learned with my readers. The idea that I’m some kind of map expert is just silly: I have no professional credentials whatsoever, not in cartography, not in geospatial, not even in illustration. (I haven’t even taken geography since high school.)
But that’s not to say that I haven’t picked up some knowledge: I’ve turned my longstanding interest in fantasy maps into a few published articles (with more still in the works or in press), so I will concede the point on that front. But in general what I do have is exposure. Over the past 18 years I have seen just about everything to do with maps, and so I know a little bit about just about everything. Not enough to be employed at any map-related job, but 18 years of paying attention, of synthesizing everything I’ve seen and read, has afforded me some perspective.
Enough to call out obvious horseshit when I see it.
Late last year Dan Ford launched a Kickstarter to create a board book (i.e., a children’s book printed on paperboard) about map projections called Map Projections for Babies. Presumably intended to be in the same vein as other board books on surprisingly advanced science topics (Chris Ferrie has a whole series of them; Quantum Computing for Babies is a typical title), Map Projections for Babies “explains how we unwrap the round Earth to make flat maps. This guide for babies (and their loved ones) describes a complex concept in kid-friendly terms. […] This project began last year, when I was inspired threefold by my daughter’s curiosity, my love for maps, and a growing number of board books that condense complex concepts for babies.” The Kickstarter was successful, the book is now at the printing stage and is on track for delivery in April; additional orders will be accepted at some point. [Geography Realm]
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s take on the Mercator projection is … not what you’d expect. The punch line is similar to Christopher Rowe’s short story, “Another Word for Map Is Faith”: if you can’t make the map conform to the territory, make the territory conform to the map. Since we’re dealing with the Mercator projection, this requires some … escalation.
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