‘The Vinland Map Is a Fake’

The Vinland Map
The Vinland Map

The general consensus has been for some time that the Vinland Map is a modern forgery. A battery of non-destructive tests by Yale University, which holds the map in its Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, have been performed on the map, and the results of those tests have been announced: the map is a fake.

“The Vinland Map is a fake,” said Raymond Clemens, curator of early books and manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the map. “There is no reasonable doubt here. This new analysis should put the matter to rest.”

Basically, the map’s inks contain titanium compounds first used in the 1920s, and an inscription on the parchment was altered to make it seem like the map belonged in a 15th-century bound volume.

Previously: Re-Analyzing the Vinland Map.

FCC Releases 4G/LTE Availability Map

Last month the U.S. Federal Communications Commission released an interactive map showing 4G/LTE cellular voice and data coverage in the United States from the four major providers. This is the first FCC map released under the 2020 Broadband DATA Act, which mandated better maps than the FCC has been producing in the past (previously). [The Verge]

Latitude, Longitude and Decimal Points

Vladimir Agafonkin’s post, which demonstrates just what latitude and longitude to x decimal places looks like, is a visual complement to xkcd’s comic about coordinate precision: both tell you that when it comes to latitude and longitude, more than a few decimal points is pointless. “As you’ve probably guessed, 6 digits should be enough for most digital cartography needs (spanning around 10 centimeters). Maybe 7 for LiDAR, but that’s it.”

A Project to Restore a 19th-Century Treatise on Hand-drawn Mapping

The Art of Hand Drawn Maps 1890 (Kickstarter cover image)

I have a new mapping project on Kickstarter,” writes our friend Alejandro Polanco. “This time it is about recovering some exciting hand-drawn maps by a forgotten craftsman from the 19th century.” This is Alejandro’s second project to digitally recover a 19th-century illustrated book; this time his target is an 1890 edition of a treatise on topographical drawing by Juan Papell y Llenas. The book is full of detailed examples of mapping techniques done only with ink on paper. Alejandro’s restored edition, The Art of Hand-drawn Maps 1890, will be released this fall in digital (€18 pledge) and paper (€32) editions.

Alejandro’s previous crowdfunding projects include Pandemic Atlas, The Minimal Geography Atlas, Minimal Geography and Maptorian.

Mapping ICU Capacity During the Delta Wave

New York Times map of ICU capacity in the United States
The New York Times (screenshot)

Thanks to a combination of low vaccination rates and the COVID-19 Delta variant, intensive care wards are filling up across the United States. The New York Times maps one of the more disturbing metrics of the pandemic: the percentage of occupied ICU beds by hospital region.

MapQuest to the Rescue?

Adam Engst of TidBITS had a specific routing problem that only one map app could solve. The answer, as they say, will surprise you: “When faced with needing to visit 43 different addresses, what was the most efficient route? It’s easy enough to enter an address into Apple’s Maps or Google Maps, and even add an extra stop or two. But 43 stops in an optimal route? […] A little research revealed that MapQuest—remember MapQuest from the days when we all printed directions?—offers precisely what I needed.”

A Flurry of New Book Announcements

News about upcoming map books has been thin on the ground of late, which is hardly surprising given the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on the publishing industry as a whole. But in just the past two days we’ve seen three significant new book announcements.

Kenneth Field’s long-awaited Thematic Mapping: 101 Ways to Visualise Empirical Data, which takes as its starting point a map of a single event—the 2016 U.S. presidential election—will be out from Esri Press as an ebook on the 31st of August, Ken announced yesterday. Pre-order: Amazon (Canada, UK).

You might remember James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s amazing 2016 book Where the Animals Go. Their next book of data visualizations, Atlas of the Invisible, will be out in September from Particular Books in the U.K. and in November from W. W. Norton in North America. Pre-order: Amazon (Canada, UK), Bookshop.

The Quarantine Atlas: Mapping Life under COVID-19 is the byproduct of CityLab’s 2020 project soliciting hand-drawn maps of life under quarantine (previously here and here). In the book version, Laura Bliss matches 65 of those submissions with original essays. Due out in April 2022 from Black Dog & Leventhal. Pre-order: Amazon (Canada).

I’ve updated the Map Books of 2021 page with these books; that page still looks awfully sparse compared with previous years. If there’s a map-related book coming out this year that I haven’t listed, please let me know.

Vaccination Rates in Montreal

Interactive maps produced by Radio-Canada from Montreal Public Health data show where vaccination rates on the Island of Montreal are lagging. The Quebec government’s target is to have at least 75 percent of the population vaccinated. Of the 3,000 sectors on the map, 70 percent have reached that goal for the first dose and 3 percent for the second.

These data are useful in terms of where to target mobile clinics and other vaccination outreach programs. I’d love to see this for other cities in Quebec, especially the one nearest to me: Gatineau’s current rate is relatively low (66.4 percent first dose, 51.2 second dose as of this week) and it’d be revealing to see where the uptake is stronger or weaker.

Dreading the Map

Sonia E. Barrett’s Dreading the Map is an explicitly anti-colonial work installed in the heart of one aspect of British colonialism: the Map Room of the Royal Geographical Society.

Using carefully curated paper maps of the Caribbean and UK that have been shredded into strips, the artist and several black women co-creators used African-Caribbean hair styling techniques to plait the shredded maps. Culturally, such female spaces of hair styling are filled with discussions around self- and community-care, and this black woman-centred cultural practice juxtaposed the wood-lined walls, globes and portraits of white explorers that typify the building with the music and laughter of black women talking and working together. As a response to the RGS’s stated desire to reflect on their history and their building, this was a filling of the space with black women’s language, perspectives and practices, a reimagining of what the space can and should mean.

Dreading the Map is one of several “artistic provocations” commissioned by CARIUK. It has been installed in the RGS’s Map Room since March. On 24 May the RGS hosted a conversation with Sonia E. Barrett about the work.

British Library Completes Flickr Release of George III’s Map Collection

The British Library has uploaded another 32,000 images from George III’s Topographical Collection to Flickr. The Library has been engaged in digitizing the King’s Topographical Collection (K.Top), which comprises some 40,000 atlases, views, plans and surveys dating from 1540 to 1824, for the past few years; last year they uploaded the first tranche of nearly 18,000 images to Flickr for free access and download. As of their announcement earlier this month, the Flickr collection (found here, helpfully organized by fonds) “now includes pretty much everything from the Topographical Collection, there is a small handful of images which we have still to release. We’re working on it!”

Previously: British Library Makes 18,000 of George III’s Maps and Ephemera Freely Available.

An Osher Map Library Exhibition Inspired by Cancelled Travel in the COVID Era

C. F. Weiland, Cholera-karte oder Übersicht der progressiven verbreitung der Cholera seit ihrer Erscheinung im Jahr 1817 über Asien, Europa und Africa, 1832. Map, 62 × 73 cm. Osher Map Library Sheet Map Collection.

The latest exhibition at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education is deliberately on the nose: Where Will We Go from Here? Travel in the Age of COVID-19 is the Osher’s first crowdsourced exhibition, based in part on more than 140 responses to an online survey about cancelled travel plans and the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibition is divided into five sections, beginning with an introduction to the mapping of pandemics and diseases, and continuing into four themes that emerged from the types of cancelled or postponed trips our respondents wrote about most frequently: Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Family Milestones; Weddings; Work-Related Travel; and Lost Study-Abroad Experiences. The curators selected stories from the survey and matched personal narratives and reflections about trips not taken to historic maps from our collections. We hope that as you walk through the gallery you will take time to read these personal narratives, and that they provide you with an opportunity to engage in quiet reflection about the challenges you and your loved ones have faced this year, and that you will join us in pondering the question: “Where will we go from here?”

At the end of our questionnaire, we asked participants: “Beyond your canceled travel plans, is there anything else you would like to tell us about how the pandemic has impacted your living and working situations?” We were particularly moved by the honest and thoughtful responses to this question; all responses can be read in a scrolling feed on the monitor at the end of the exhibit.

The physical exhibition opened on 13 May and is open to visitors until 15 October 2021. Free admission with timed tickets; no more than six visitors are allowed in the gallery at any one time. The online exhibition starts here; the sections mixing personal narratives and historical maps can be quite poignant.

A Look at Apple Maps in iOS 15

MacRumors takes a look at the changes to Apple Maps in iOS 15. “Apple has made so many improvements to the Maps app in iOS 15 that it’s almost an entirely different experience. There are better driving directions, improved transit directions, and more immersive AR-based walking directions.” That’s maybe a bit over the top, in the fashion of the Apple-focused tech press, but at any rate there are a bunch of screenshots.

Previously: Apple Maps Updates Announced at WWDC.