The Mercator Puzzle is an excellent way to visualize the distortions inherent in the Mercator projection, which conserves angles (useful for navigation) by exaggerating size at the poles (problematic in virtually every other use). Click and drag the countries in this in-browser app to see just how dramatically larger or smaller they become as you move them closer to and further away from the poles. Via Boing Boing.
Cartographer Daniel Huffman, whose work I posted about a few times on The Map Room, has created a map of Lake Michigan in which the lake’s shoreline has been unfurled into a straight line. “I made this map because I wanted to show space referenced against a natural feature, rather than figuring locations based on the cardinal directions of north/south/etc.,” he says. “I think it’s a very human perspective, grounded in how we relate to the lake, rather than how it looks from space.” (With a 1:6 width/height ratio, it’s also insanely long, rather like a vertical Tabula Peutingeriana, and as such hard to display an excerpt of: you have to sacrifice detail or a sense of the whole. Which is to say: go and see the whole thing.) Via Kottke.
New maps of Ceres were released today at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. One is a colour-coded topopgraphical map that resembles a map we saw earlier but adds newly approved names for topographical features. Another, the false-colour map seen above, combines imagery through infrared, red and blue filters and highlights compositional differences on Ceres’ surface (different materials reflect light at different frequencies). Image credit: NASA/
Another fantasy story featuring maps, Charlotte Ashley’s “Eleusinian Mysteries,” appears in this month’s issue of Luna Station Quarterly. In it, a Javanese-Dutch mapmaker named Maghfira is punished for making maps of the moon that include a seemingly fanciful feature: a city named Eleusis. Naturally — this is an sf/fantasy story, after all — Eleusis turns out to be not so fanciful, and Maghfira gets herself into further trouble in its pursuit. The story says a little about maps and forbidden knowledge, rather more about about alienation and the urge to strike out into the unknown.
There is no transit map more iconic than the London Underground’s Tube map. First created by Harry Beck in the 1930s, the design has inspired countless other transit network maps that are schematic diagrams rather than geographically accurate maps. But Transport for London, which operates the Underground, also has a geographically accurate map of the network: it was strictly for internal use, but a freedom of information request has now brought it to light. It’s available here (PDF). The response has been so good that TfL now says it’ll be added to their website. CityMetric, Mapping London.
The Map Room’s archives have lots of blog posts about transit maps and their design.
In my study of fantasy maps, one thing I’m particularly interested in is the difference between fantasy maps and their real-world counterparts. Those differences can be substantial; at some point I hope to go into a bit more depth about them. Meanwhile, James Hinton’s guest post at The Worldbuilding School tries to address this subject by comparing a single real-world city map (London, 1653) with a non-canonical map of Osgiliath from a role-playing game. His point turns out to be that fantasy settings should make sense (Osgiliath, according to the map, doesn’t): it’s a question of geography rather than cartography. The territory rather than the map. But if you begin building your fantasy world by drawing the map … Via MetaFilter.
Back when I was doing The Map Room, I followed along as Yanko Tsvetkov started producing map after map of European stereotypes. The project really took off. He’s kept at it since, while I wasn’t looking quite as closely; he’s also collected them into two self-published volumes called the Atlas of Prejudice, which appear to have sold rather well in several different languages. As of July, an all-in-one edition, Atlas of Prejudice: The Complete Stereotype Map Collection, containing all the maps from the previous volumes plus 25 more, is now available.
A new book of map art is due out from Gestalten later this month. Mind the Map, edited by Antonis Antoniou, Robert Klanten and Sven Ehmann, seems very much in the same vein as their previous effort, A Map of the World. “Mind the Map is a showcase that reflects the broad range of work now being created by a new generation of mapmakers from around the world including classically legible maps, artistic experiments, editorial illustrations, city views, vacation guides, and global overviews.” The Guardian has some samples, as does the publisher’s catalog page.
Previously: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers.
The Fictional Maps International Conference, an academic conference on the use of maps in fiction, will take place from January 21 to 23, 2016 at the University of Silesia’s Scientific Information Centre and Academic Library in Katowice, Poland. Stefan Ekman, the author of Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings (my review), is the keynote speaker. Deadline for submitting abstracts is October 30.
If you’ve been following along, you will instantly understand that this is very much relevant to my interests, and though it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve been in academic mode, I might have to figure out a way to go to this.
Coming in October from Zest Books: Andrew DeGraff’s Plotted: A Literary Atlas, a collection of the artist’s maps of fictional worlds. The Huffington Post has an interview with the author and sample pages from the book, from which we can get a sense both of DeGraff’s distinct and idiosyncratic artwork and the books he chose to make maps for. They’re not necessarily books you’d expect maps for (e.g., A Christmas Carol). These are maps of the stories — not, as we see in fantasy maps, of the stories’ setting — which means a completely different perspective that takes into account both time and distance travelled.
Bellerby & Co. produces gorgeous hand-made, hand-painted globes. Peter Bellerby started the company six years ago — he wanted to make a globe for his father for his birthday, but got a bit carried away. Very much a luxury product: the least expensive item I could find in their catalogue was £999, and the higher-end and custom globes climb well into five figures. Not, in other words, comparable to Replogle’s product line.
More about globes in The Map Room’s archives.
Google’s Map Maker is in the process of reopening, with six countries reopening on August 10 and another 45 countries last Monday. Map Maker, Google’s tool allowing users to make changes to Google Maps, was suspended last May after some embarrassing edits came to light. Regional leads are now in place to review user edits before they go live on the map.
If mapcodes and other geographical shortcodes aren’t Googly enough for you, take a look at Open Location Codes, a Google-developed, open-sourced project. Generated algorithmically rather than with data tables. Announced for developers last April, they can now be used in Google Maps searches.
As I predicted, a new global map of Pluto has been released that incorporates the imagery that has been downlinked so far from the New Horizons flyby: with gridlines, without gridlines. If nothing else, the equatorial projection demonstrates how much of Pluto’s surface was not seen during the very brief encounter. From what I understand, imagery downlinks will resume in September and carry on for another year, so this map will almost certainly see many more updates.
Meanwhile, Ceres also has some new maps.
- Great Escapes: The Story of MI9’s Second World War Escape and Evasion Maps by Barbara Bond (Times Books, October 2015): history of the escape maps produced for prisoners of war. Pre-order at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).
- Mapping the Second World War by Peter Chasseaud (Collins, October 2015): a collection of historical maps; follow-up to Chasseaud’s 2013 book Mapping the First World War. Pre-order at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).
- Mapping the Second World War: The Key Battles of the European Theatre from Above by Michael Swift and Michael Sharpe (Conway Maritime Press, November 2014). Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).
Previously: Two Books on WWI Maps.
The sixth volume of the massive History of Cartography Project, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, is now available. Edited by Mark Monmonier, it takes two physical volumes and nearly two thousand pages to cover mapmaking in the twentieth century — and lists for an eye-popping $500 (U.S.), though it’s a bit cheaper on Amazon.
Volumes one through three are available for free download. Volumes four and five, covering the European Enlightenment and the nineteenth century, respectively, are still in development.
Previously: History of Cartography Project Co-Founder Dies.
The New Yorker’s Elements blog has a piece about mapcodes. These are short alphanumeric codes assigned to every location on the planet, with short codes reserved for areas of high population density. It’s meant to be a substitute for latitude and longitude, and aimed at parts of the world where there are no formal addresses (which makes directions somewhat interesting): give someone a mapcode, and you’re giving them a very precise location.
The Peace Tower in Ottawa, for example, has an Ontario mapcode of 09W.YK (mapcodes exist within country and state/provincial contexts).
The main problem, as I see it, is that while the Mapcode Foundation is trying to make mapcodes a standard, it still relies on data tables to produce the code, which is to say that there’s some computational overhead. Whereas something like Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates can be derived from topo maps (which have UTM grids on them).
The New Horizons spacecraft’s rendezvous with Pluto is next week, folks, but we’re already getting better views of our favourite dwarf planet than we’ve ever had before. NASA has assembled images taken between June 27 and July 3 into the above map, which despite its relatively low resolution shows some intriguing surface features: the so-called “whale” and “donut.” (Of course, low resolution is relative: this is already much better than the Hubble-based maps of Pluto released in 2005 and 2010.) Image credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.
Citing changing priorities, Yahoo announced today that Yahoo Maps is among the products that it will be shutting down; it’ll go dark at the end of this month. “However,” says Yahoo chief architect Amotz Maimon, “in the context of Yahoo search and on several other Yahoo properties including Flickr, we will continue to support maps.” Business Insider, TechCrunch, VentureBeat.
For a few years Yahoo Maps got frequent upgrades and improvements. The current map platform launched in May 2007; it replaced a Flash-based map engine that first debuted as a beta in November 2005 and became the default map a year later, replacing an even older map service that, if my memory serves, was like the pre-Google Maps MapQuest. Since then Yahoo Maps has stagnated — but for a while there, before Google Maps became the dominant juggernaut it is today, it could have been a contender.
The USGS’s California Seafloor Mapping Program has produced a set of insanely detailed maps of the sea floor along the California coast. Downloadable as rather hefty PDF files; the map sheets are three feet across as paper maps. Above, a detail from the shaded-relief bathymetry map of the San Francisco area. Boing Boing, Wired.
I sometimes get asked how to do a fantasy map. I’m the wrong person to ask, because I’m basically a fantasy map critic, not a working illustrator. What the people asking me this question want is an instruction manual for the standard fantasy map, and for that, Roberts is their man, because he’s an actual illustrator. He does operate within the dominant fantasy map paradigm I often critique (though with a good deal more colour and texture than the standard line drawing), but he does it very well, and more importantly shares his methods. Roberts’s blog is full of interesting material on how he goes about creating fantasy maps: see for example this tutorial.
Google Maps had to apologize again last week, this time because searching for racist terms gave results like the White House and Howard University. The results were derived from online discussions: idiots using an offensive term to describe a place associated the term with the place in Google’s search algorithms. Google says it’s changing the algorithm to fix the problem (because algorithms are to Google what procedures are to bureaucracies — the source of, and solution to, all life’s problems). Boing Boing, Engadget.
Previously: Google Map Maker Program Suspended.
A Redditor called Sarithus has created a map of Clichéa, “a map based on fantasy tropes that also pokes a little fun at unoriginal map makers.” Like others of its kind, it hearkens back, probably undeliberately, to early modern maps of Cockaigne and Schlaraffenland and other satirical maps. Cartographer’s Guild thread, Reddit thread.
Previously: The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need.
Google is temporarily suspending Map Maker, its tool allowing user contributions to Google Maps, until they fix their edit moderation system. Auto-approvals of map edits had been suspended in the wake of the notorious and high-profile edits to the map near Rawalpindi; since then edits to the map have required manual approval, which has created a massive backlog. “We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.” Via The Verge.
While looking for something else, I stumbled across the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Ministry’s Historical Highway Maps of Manitoba site: a collection of PDF scans of dozens of highway maps of the province. The earliest is a 1926 map produced by the Winnipeg Tourist and Convention Bureau; the most recent is the B version of the 2010 Official Highway Map. Collectively they trace the development of the province’s road network: I got so very lost in this site watching the road network change from year to year — just as I did as a child, when I studied each new edition to see what had changed from the previous year. This is a weapons-grade hit of nostalgia for me.
Above, a detail from the 1966-1967 map, the first to use the style of map that I was familar with growing up in the 1970s.
Previously: Manitoba Historical Maps.
Some embarrassment for Google Maps last week, as they were forced to apologize for an image of the Android mascot peeing on an Apple logo that turned up on the map near Rawalpindi in Pakistan. To say nothing of the phrase “Google review policy is crap” etched into nearby Takht Pari Forest. Both have since been removed. Boing Boing, the Guardian, The Verge.
To be fair to Google, crowdsourcing map data does have its pitfalls: OpenStreetMap has to deal with this sort of thing all the time. You have to have something in place to deal with bad-faith edits. None of the edits I’ve made to Google Maps went through without someone reviewing them, so I’m surprised that this could happen. That said, when you need your map updated fast (such as during natural disasters like yesterday’s earthquake in Nepal), it’s hard to beat crowdsourcing.
As always, it’s important to keep in mind that all online maps have their shortcomings.
The federal government’s new map of Canada, part of the Atlas of Canada reference series, came out this week. Among the changes between it and its predecessor (which came out in 2006), one in particular is drawing attention. Ivan Semeniuk in the Globe and Mail:
Whereas the older version of the map showed only that part of the sea ice that permanently covered Arctic waters year round at that time, the new edition uses a 30-year median of September sea-ice extent from 1981 through 2010. September sea ice hit a record low in 2012 and is projected to decline further. The change means there is far more ice shown on the 2015 version of the map than on its predecessor.
The changes can be seen below: the 2006 map is on the left, the 2015 map on the right.
Now as Semeniuk’s piece points out, neither way is wrong. But all maps have a point of view, and it’s naive to think that this change was made in a value-neutral environment: this was the result of a conscious decision. The reason for that decision — that’s what’s interesting.
- Dawn’s first colour map of Ceres: map-projected false-colour images of the dwarf planet taken as the spacecraft approached, assembled from images taken through blue, green and infrared filters. (Previously: At Ceres.)
- An elevation map of the Ares Vallis region of Mars (above) from the DLR, the German space agency (via io9).
- A map of known exoplanets in the Milky Way; most of them were found during the Kepler mission, which pointed at a a particular region of space.
Alastair Bonnett’s Unruly Places (first published in the U.K. as Off the Map) is a light, entertaining exploration of some of the world’s more unusual places. Bonnett, a social geography professor at Newcastle University, has written 47 short essays about locations that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make any sense: the exceptions, the asterisks, the ink blots (in at least one case literally) on the map.
These range from the deeply frivolous to the profoundly injust: from bits and pieces of New York City transformed into environmental time capsules and art projects to places meaningful to the author; from rendition sites and pirate bases to Bedouin settlements in the Israeli Negev desert; from destroyed landscapes to Potemkin cities. The places often feel almost science-fictional; and in fact several of them evoked settings in existing science fiction works, like Christopher Priest’s Dream Archipelago and Maureen McHugh’s Nekropolis.
All in all, a pleasant diversion for the geographically minded, though I did have one quibble: the book calling latitude and longitude “Google Earth coordinates,” as though degrees are
as proprietary as the KML format.
- Emily Garfield’s Map Art
- Map Anniversaries
- Daniel Reeve, Film Cartographer
- Atlas of Canada
- The Patterson Projection
- Geologic Maps of Vesta
- Gift Guide: 10 Map Books of 2014
- Moon and Comet Maps
- Fantasy Maps of U.S. Cities
- Geologic Map of Mars
- Mapping It Out
- My Readercon 25 Schedule
- Finding Longitude
- Mapping Gotham
- Review: The Map Thief
- Four More Map Stories
- Game of Thrones Map Marker Set
- A Book About the Forbes Smiley Affair
- The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need
- Importing CanVec Data into OpenStreetMap
- Art and Personal Mapmaking
- The Geology of ‘Game of Thrones’
- Unlikely Cartography ToC
- Trap Street, the Movie
- Ganymede and Mercury
- A Map of U.S. Intercity Bus and Train Routes
- A Book About Globes
- Mapping How Much Snow Cancels School
- Two More Map Books
- The New Yorker on Maps and Literature
- More Map Books
- Review: A History of the World in Twelve Maps
- Earth Wind Map
- The Journal of Unlikely Cartography
- Unfathomable City
- Review: Barrington Atlas iPad App
- How to Make a Fantasy Map
- Earth from Space
- The United Watershed States of America
- Maps of Mercury
- Two Detailed Rail Maps
- The Barrington Atlas Comes to the iPad
- Two Books on WWI Maps
- World of Equal Districts
- Atlas of Vesta
- Sea Monsters and the Carta Marina
- My New Article on Fantasy Maps: ‘Here Be Blank Spaces’
- Ian Silva’s Koana Islands
- The World on an Egg, circa 1504
- Tube Map Live
- Pluto’s Problematic Cartography
- A Fantasy Map of Ireland
- Wired Map Lab
- Close Up at a Distance
- Circular Subway Maps
- A Fantasy Map of Great Britain
- A Fantasy Map of Australia
- The Mapmaker’s War
- Map of Northern Biomass
- Error Reporting in Apple Maps
- Fantasy Maps Project Page Updated
- Alberta Flood Maps
- Herbal Earth
- Review: Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps
- Map of All American Rivers
- Apple Maps on the Mac
- Review: Here Be Dragons
- The Sixteenth-Century Origins of Fantasy Maps
- Mapping Antarctica’s Bedrock
- A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox
- Review: The Art of the Map
- New Google Maps: First Impressions
- My Own Private Westeros
- Here Be Sea Monsters
- A Topographic Map of Titan
- Google Maps Redesigned
- OpenStreetMap’s New Map Editor
- Fictional Worlds Map-Making Competition
- The KickMap Comes to London
- Mapping Manhattan
- The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers
- All Online Maps Suck
- The Imaginarium Geographica
- Fifty Equal States Redux
- Lunar Gravity Map
- Ankh-Morpork on the iPad
- The Book of Thomas: Volume One: Heaven
- Review: On the Map
- Saladin Ahmed on Secondary World Fantasy
- Laser-Cut Wood Bathymetric Charts
- Laconic History of the World
- The Onion on Apple Maps
- Census Dotmap
- The Measure of Manhattan
- Google Maps for iPhone
- Antony Swithin’s Rockall
- Review: The Lands of Ice and Fire
- Jeffrey Beebe’s Refractoria
- Let Maps to Others
- Nokia’s Here Maps App
- The World Fantasy Map Panel
- Now Out: The Lands of Ice and Fire
- Apple-Google Maps Kremlinology
- A World Without Spin
- Apple, Google and China: iOS Maps
- Roger Zelazny’s Here There Be Dragons
- iOS 6 Maps: First Impressions and More Links
- iOS Maps: More Reactions and Analysis
- Reactions to Apple’s Maps
- On the Map: A New Book from Simon Garfield
- Early Reviews of iOS 6 Maps
- Soundings: A Biography of Marie Tharp
- Ground Truthing Google Maps
- Dung Kai-cheung’s Atlas
- Mapping Infinite Jest
- Mapping Hurricane Tracks
- Maps of Songs and Films
- Mapping the Nation
- Kate Elliott on Fantasy Maps
- Waldseemüller Globe Gore Found
- Mapping the Heat Wave
- A Scholarly Work on Fantasy Maps
- Apple Replaces Google Maps on iOS
- Mapping Tornado Tracks
- Map of a Nation
- Apple to Abandon Google Maps in iOS 6?
- Does a Map Reveal Roanoke’s Fate?
- U.S. Life Expectancy by County
- New Moon Globe Released
- El Viaje de Argos
- The Lands of Ice and Fire: Westeros Atlas Coming in October
- Wonderful Wind Map
- OpenStreetMap in Watercolour
- Perpetual Ocean
- 19th-Century Children’s Maps
- Geologic Map of Io
- Old Maps Online
- A Fantasy Map of the U.S.
- Atlas of the Galilean Satellites
- More Moon Maps
- An Ancient Map of the Mesopotamian World
- How Readers Use Fantasy Maps
- ‘The Maps We Wandered Into as Kids’
- Four Map Stories
- A Map of Rising Global Temperatures
- Personal Geographies
- Historical Atlas of Washington and Oregon
- A New Lunar Topo Map
- Gift Guide: Map Books of 2011
- Hubris and the Times Comprehensive Atlas
- Map Books for Fall 2011
- The Farthing Party Map Panel
- Maps in Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Jerry’s Map
- OpenStreetMap in Ottawa
- SF Signal on Fantasy Maps
- When Mapping Gets You Arrested