Posts Tagged ‘maps’

Introducing The Next Generation Of Portable Navigation Systems

Today’s digital maps, both on the web, on our mobile phones and in our cars are almost ubiquitous. But they’re not without their problems. They need recharging, updating and most need some form of network connectivity and that’s even before you look at the potential privacy aspects of who’s watching your position. But now there’s the next generation of portable navigation system.

This unprecedented technological revolution works without cables, without electronics, without a network connection and is both compact and portable. Integrated into a flexible cellulose based pad, it expands from the size of your pocket to as much as 48″ via the patented FUF technology (folding and unfolding).

Panning, zooming and rotation can be performed without image degradation; it’s fast, working smoothly within picoseconds. It also respects a user’s privacy, it’s impossible to hack and there’s no need for any antivirus or firewall.

It’s unbreakable, private and portable and goes by the name of MAP. Trust me, you’ll all be using one sooner or later.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

The Curious Cartographical Case Of The Island Of California

We’ve become firmly accustomed to the instant gratification of Internet Time, which can be roughly summarised as “I want it now, dammit“. Nowhere is this more evident than in maps. If something is wrong on a map, we expect it to be fixed. Now. Ten or so years ago, it would be common to wait somewhere between 12 and 18 months for a map’s updates to be collected, validated and published. These days, thanks to our modern digital maps, we get our updates in more or less Internet Time and that means fast. It hasn’t always been that way.

Although waiting over a year for a map update seems almost unthinkable now, consider for a moment having to wait almost half a century for a map to be updated. Yet this is what happened in the curious cartographical case of the Island of California.

I should state up front that I’ve been to California, quite a few times. The weather is fine (apart from San Francisco’s fog), it’s home to the technical hub of Silicon Valley and the local food and wine are rather good. It is most definitely not an island and what’s more, there’s a distinct lack of tribes of beautiful Amazonian warriors wielding gold tools and weaponry. Yet in 1510, Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo published a novel entitled Las Sergas de Esplandián, or The Adventures Of Esplandián, which mentions the Island of California, populated by the aforementioned female warriors. The name and concept of an island stuck and early Spanish explorers of what we now call Baja California were convinced the new territory they had found was part of the Island of California.

In retrospect, early maps of the New World actually got the geography of California right. Both Mercator, he of web map projection controversy, in 1538 and Ortelius, in 1570, made maps that correctly showed California as a peninsula.

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But that all changed in 1602.

A merchant, Sebastián Vizcaíno, was appointed by the Viceroy of New Spain to examine the coastal regions and make new maps. On board one of Vizcaíno’s expeditions was one Antonia de la Ascensión who wrote …

that the whole Kingdom of California discovered on this voyage, is the largest island known…and that it is separated from the provinces of New Mexico by the Mediterranean Sea of California.

This geographic blunder was further reinforced by Antonia Vázquez de Espinosa, who wrote in 1615 that …

California is an island, and not continental, as it is represented on the maps made by the cosmographers.

The notion of California as an island was thus firmly cemented in the minds of the day’s cartographers, featuring in the first general atlas of the world that was published in England between 1626 and 1627. Even European cartographers finally gave up in their portrayal of California as a peninsula and by 1650 all maps of note showed the Island.

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And so it remained until 1705 when a Jesuit missionary, Father Eusebio Kino, made a report of his journeys, with an accompanying map, that showed that California really was attached to the rest of the North American continent. Even then, it took until 1746 when another Jesuit, Fernando Consag, tried and failed to sail around the non-existant island, to put an end to the Island of California.

Despite this, it took a further 50 or so years before maps showed California as we now know it to be, part of North America and not, as de Montalvo wrote, being close to the Asian mainland and also “very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise“.

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Next time you get annoyed and frustrated by a modern map not being entirely up to date, you can rest assured that it’ll probably take a month or two at the most to be updated and not a half century. In the meantime, the Island of California remains an enduring oddity in the history books of exploration and cartography and one which is showcased on Stanford University’s web site as part of the Glen McLaughlin collection.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Men Pointing At Maps? Hell, Yeah. But Where Are The Women?

Despite having a lot of NSFW content, estimated at between 2% to 4% by the site’s founder, Tumblr is also the microblogging site that some maps and cartography aficionados call home. The scope and range of these is simply staggering. But now there’s a new, albeit tenuously, related maps Tumblr in town.

For general maps enthusiasm, there’s Fuck Yes Maps!, run by a boy and two girls who blog about maps because they’re awesome. No disagreement from me on that point.

Slightly more cartographically centred but similarly named is Fuck Yeah Cartography! that sets out to explore interesting representations of space. Apparently. There’s also Fuck Yeah Maps, not to be confused with the Yes variant mentioned earlier.

If maps and globals are more your thing, the aptly named Maps and Globes might appeal, which is curated by Emily who’s addicted to planar surfaces.

Tumblr also seems to be populated by blogs about people … doing … stuff. Think Stormtroopers Doing Things if you will. So it’s probably a logical extension to this that there’s now Men Pointing At Maps. No, really.

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All of which is good for showing just how many carto-nerds and map-geeks there are out there on today’s Interwebs. But it does beg a question. Where are the women pointing at maps? Surely maps and pointing aren’t a purely patriachal occupation. Someone should start a rival about women pointing at maps. Someone probably will …

Written and posted from Starbucks, St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London; where the coffee is poor but the wifi is fast (51.510509, -0.127062)

The Tube Map To End All Tube Maps That’s Made Of Tube Maps

Despite Transport for London owning the copyright (and enforcing it) on Harry Beck’s iconic map of the London Underground network, people just won’t stop creating variants of the map. I may have written about these once, twice, three or even more times. But now, there’s a reworking of the Tube map to possibly end all Tube maps reworks.

At first sight, surely it’s yet another Tube map rework? Quirky and amusing line names in the right colours? Check. Station names that aren’t the current station names? Check. Faithfully reproducing the line layout? Check.

But then you dig deeper and discover that this isn’t just another Tube map rework, it’s a Tube map of Tube map reworks. Each station is assigned one of the other Tube map reworks that today’s Interwebs seem to be full of. Each line tries to categorise the Tube map reworks into some, albeit subjective, categorisation.

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Thus Maxwell Robert’s curvy Tube map rework sits on a station in Edgware’s place called Curvy and on a line called Reworked, while the early pre-Beck era map sits where Ealing Broadway should be and at the interchange of the Metaphor and Official lines.

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This is verging dangerously close to genius in my book and Esri’s Ken Field deserves some form of award for taking the time and effort to put this together. My one minor and extremely subjective niggle is that the explanatory text in the sidebar says click the stations to go to further details. My first exploratory foray into this map, clicking on the station names, yielded multiple popup dialog boxes saying No information available. Luckily Barry Rowlingson helpfully pointed out that what I should have been clicking on was the station interchange circles and the little offset lugs from each line and not the name itself.

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Will this be the last word in Tube map pastiches? Probably not. Does it take a certain sort of mad cartographical endeavour to bring this all together? Probably. Has it wasted far too much of my time digging into the Tube maps I already know and showing me ones I didn’t? Maybe. Have I had masses of almost educational fun playing with this map? Absolutely.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Mapniture

You’re a fully fledged map geek and cartography nerd. Your house is plastered with maps. You even have your map room as a place on Foursquare. What could you possibly add to your household?

The answer, spotted by Tim Waters, is naturally, map furniture.

map-chair

Where better to sit in comfort with a glass of your favourite tipple and plot your next mapping endeavour?

Naturally, I want one.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Bad Cartography – Stansted, Essex (Airport) vs. Stansted, Kent (Not An Airport)

If there’s one thing that stands out more than a map that says “you are here”, it’s a map that says “you are here” and seems to get the map wrong.

It has to be said, short haul European flights are a bit on the boring side. Once you’ve read the day’s newspaper, had a drink and a snack and read a few chapters of a book there’s not much else to do. Most airlines that hop between European destinations don’t have inflight wifi yet and there’s no inflight entertainment to be had, except to watch your progress towards your destination on the map that appears on the screen over your head.

So it was with this map, which was snapped on a flight a few days ago from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to London’s Heathrow was coming to a close. But there’s something wrong with this map.

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London has three major airports, of which Heathrow is the only one that’s anywhere near Central London. The other two, Gatwick and Stansted, are out in the so called Home Counties, in Sussex and in Essex respectively. But that’s not what the inflight map seems to show. Or does it? The map seems to show that we were flying directly over Stansted but that somehow London’s third airport had mysteriously been moved from the north east of London to south of the River Thames, somewhere south of Gravesend.

My gut reaction was that the inflight map was just wrong. But the clue to this in all in the name Stansted (and not Stanstead as it’s commonly misspelt). There is indeed a Stansted (a small village notable for a lack of airport) in Kent as well as a Stansted (and an airport) in Essex.

All of which makes me wonder just what the map’s cartographers were thinking when they thought to put the village of Stansted, with a population of around 200, on an inflight map and with seemingly equal billing with some of the UK’s major cities and manage to confuse it with a major UK airport. This isn’t a recent map slip up either, as Wikipedia reports that this has been in place since 2007.

In early 2007, British Airways mistakenly used inflight ‘skymaps’ that relocated Stanstead Airport, Essex to Stansted in Kent. Skymaps show passengers their location, but the mistake was luckily not replicated on the pilots’ navigation system. BA blamed outside contractors hired to make the map. “It was the mistake of the independent company that produced the software,” said a spokeswoman. “The cartographer appears to have confused the vast Essex airport, which handles 25 million passengers a year, with this tiny Kent village, also called Stansted, which has a population of around 200″.

Time for a refresh of British Airway’s inflight maps I think.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

The Rise And Fall Of Empires. On A Map Of Course

One of the things we loose in today’s up to date maps on the web and on our mobiles is how things used to be; the temporal problem of digital maps for want of a better phrase. It’s not that there’s no data on the past, it just doesn’t surface very often.

But sometimes the data does surface and then people make maps of what used to be. Take the British Empire for example. When I went to school in the early 1970’s there were maps of the world in almost every class room and they were old maps. Whether down to a lack of funding or as a reminder of what Britain used to be, these maps still showed the extent of the empire, in a pale shade of reddish-pink.

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Or there’s the growing and then shrinking extent of the Roman Empire, spanning 27 BC through to 1453 AD.

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There’s a whole load more Empire maps over at io9.com. However nice it is to see maps of the past, I have the same problems with these maps as I did of the maps of the changing boundaries of Europe. A static map or an animated GIF cry out for the modern interactivity of a web map. Looking at the maps above I just want to pan and zoom them and run the timeline forwards and backwards. But finding the geospatial data to do this is no easy thing.

But as a comment on my post on the maps of Europe pointed out, there is some data out there. Maybe when I get back from my summer vacation I’ll make the empire maps that I want to see.

Photo Credits: Roman Empire map and British Empire map on Wikimedia.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Just Because You Can Put Things On A Map Doesn’t Always Mean You Should Allow Anyone To Put Things On A Map

Crowd sourcing data is a laudable approach. Crowd sourcing data and putting it one a map seems like a good idea. Crowd sourcing data and putting it on a map without any verification or checks? You might not end up with what you originally intended.

This is a lesson that Benadryl, the hay fever medication, has sadly learned the hard way. At first sight it seems innocuous enough; a hay fever relief brand teams up with the UK’s Met Office to crowd source areas where there’s a high pollen count.

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You take that crowd sourced information and put it on a map so fellow hay fever sufferers know what to expect in their neighbourhood and with the presumed side effect that if you are a hay fever sufferer then maybe you might want to pop out and buy some Benadryl to help cope with the symptoms.

But people are … creative and whilst you might get an accurate map of high pollen count areas you might also find that people want to be … well let’s just call it artistic.

First of all a series of map markers across Westminster, on the bank of London’s River Thames seemed to spell out a word that rhymes with duck. Note that for those of you with a sensitive disposition or who are reading this at work, the screen shots below have been pixellated out for your comfort and convenience; you can click through for the NSFW versions if you so choose.

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This was followed in quick succession by another word, this time rhyming with bit, appearing across London’s Docklands area.

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Who knows how far the creative hay fever sufferers of the United Kingdom would have taken this but it wasn’t to last. Benadryl noticed this new form of map art and quickly took the social pollen count site down and it has since reappeared, though this time there seems to be some checks in place so that users can report high pollen count areas and only high pollen count areas. But whilst their developers were frantically trying to put some safeguards in place, it has to be said that Benadryl put up a temporary replacement that shows a certain sense of style and a whole lot of class.

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Screen shot credits: Us vs. Them.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

How To Order Your First Holiday Beer? With A Map Of Course

Finally Summer has arrived in London just in time to coincide with the annual population exodus known as the summer holidays. But wait. When you arrive at your holiday destination, how do you order a beer? If you’re lucky, you’ll remember some rudimentary French or Spanish from your school days. But what about other languages? Surely there’s a map for this essential information?

Luckily and to paraphrase the mantra of there’s an app for that, there’s also a map for that. Whether it’s beer, bier, cerveza, pivo, birra or øl, this handy guide to beer throughout Europe and its environs will help you get that first cold beer of the holiday into your hands.

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A tip of the hat and a cheers on Untappd is due to Sitaram Shashri for sending yet another mapping gem my way.

Written and posted from the Nokia UK Office, Paddington, London (51.51939, -0.18160)

Mapping Posh London vs. Hipster London

If you live in a city for any period of time, you form a mental image of what quantifies certain areas or neighbourhoods. If someone mentions, say, posh London, I instantly think of the area around Mayfair and Knightsbridge. But you could put this personal and biased view on a map?

It turns out Yelp has done just that, producing a heat map of my home city of all the reviews that mention posh. It looks pretty much as I’d imagine.

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The same applies for the term hipster. I’d immediately associate the area around Hoxton and Old Street (AKA Silicon Roundabout) with all things hipsterish. As it turns out, so do Yelp’s reviewers.

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All of which is oddly comforting. Maybe my mental map of a city isn’t so personal and subjective after all.

A tip of the hat is due to Chris Osborne for pointing out these mapping gems.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)