The Uncertainty Principle Of Maps Sites (And Eddie Izzard)

I should start off by saying that I don’t mean mapping web sites. There’s no Ovi, Yahoo!, Google or OpenStreetMap web sites in this post. No, this is a blog post about Eddie Izzard (at least slightly), Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (even more ephmerally), the (death of) RSS, maps and cartography (generally) and (in the main) web sites about maps and cartography.

A strange set of bedfellows you might think (you might also think I’ve been overdosing on LISP as there’s way way too many parentheses in the first two paragraphs alone) … but bear with me.

Eddie Izzard, in his Dress To Kill stage show (“cake or death”), was musing on the way in which people perceive history and this got me to thinking about RSS. But first, this is what he said …

Yes, and I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from. Oh, yeah. You tear your history down, man! “30 years old, let’s smash it to the floor and put a car park here!” I have seen it in stories. I saw something in a program on something in Miami, and they were saying, “We’ve redecorated this building to how it looked over 50 years ago!” And people were going, “No, surely not, no. No one was alive then!”

sketchmap-Apostle Islands, WI

And the RSS connection? Well in 2005 ZDNet were predicting the death of RSS by way of the death of the RSS reader, and then last year TechCrunch composed an epitaph for Really Simple Syndication saying “Rest in peace RSS. It’s time to completely cut RSS off and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn’t cut it anymore”.

Yet for me at least RSS is very much alive, well and part of my daily routine of news and information gathering and acquisition (which includes Twitter, but it’s by no way the sole source). Sorry, went back to parentheses there; I’ll try to curb this.

And under my RSS group that contains feeds from sites I’ve noticed and want to read again (yes I could have bookmarked them but my RSS reader, still alive and well in the form of NetNewsWire, aggregates them for me in a way that I find works) and it struck me the other day that there’s a hell of a lot of maps and cartography sites alive and well.

So to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle? That can be summed up neatly by saying that the observer affects the observed. So is this part of a renaissance of interest in mapping and cartography in general or are there more mapping and cartography sites out there because we’re looking for them and people are responding to a perceived need? With this in mind, here’s a list of sites you should probably read at least once because they show just how much variety and interest there is on the topic of maps out there on the web.

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Strange Maps – If you read one maps blog, read this one. It never ceases to inform, amaze, amuse or any combination of the three.

Mapperz – The Mapping News Blog – Regularly updated roundup of what’s new in the world of maps and GIS.

The Map Room – Jonathan Crowe’s Weblog About Maps – Links and articles on maps, map collections, map related resources and anything much map related on the web.

Fuckyesmaps – A boy and a girl with a love for maps. Need I say more?

Fuck Yeah Cartography – More cartographical profanity but basically anything that explores interesting representations of space.

Cartophile – Whoever the anonymous author of this Tumblr powered blog is, one things for sure and that’s that they love anything maps and cartography related.

Cartastrophe – What happens when maps go bad.

Atlas Obscura – Curious and Wonderful Travel Destinations, A Compendium of the World’s Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica – Not strictly maps related but an online atlas of the weird and wonderful that’s around the world. Punch in your home city or area and be amazed.

Know of any more that should be in my (not dead yet) RSS feed? The comments would be a good place to let me know, you know.

Photo Credits: pixn8tr and Justin Masterson on Flickr.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

3 Comments

  • Loved it! I can completely relate to your ‘sideways’ sense of humor as well.

    I too have a penchant for parentheses from time to time…do you think there’s help out there?? Kind of like a PP-AA sort of thing?? ;-)

    I am a newbie when it comes to blogging, so any advice is much appreciated. Where can I learn more about RSS feeds??

  • I agree Gary, I dont know what I would do without RSS and a reader. Its the only way I can keep up and filter out the rubbish. Incidentally as a non mac user I have http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/reader/

    Oh and thanks for the tips, there are a couple of blogs there not on my list

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