Posts Tagged ‘bing maps


BBC Interviews Jerry Brotton: Maps and their biases from Mercator to Google

In “A history of the world in 12 Maps” Professory Jerry Brotton demonstrates the bias and distortion behind a variety of cartographic examples  stemming back to the first Mercator projections. In this interview for the BBC, he shows how maps at their worst can be a deceptive expression of the politics of the author,  or simply a reflection of a particular contemporary view of the world. He asks if there should be more concern about a private entity such as  Google being the single biggest collector and owner of geographic data worldwide.

(Of course some authors would argue that expressing our feelings and beliefs through maps is a freedom we should treasure and celebrate).

Help yourself to a Peters or Mercator projections at’s online map store.

BBC Meet The Author: Prof. Jerry Brotton


Wikipedia Map Fail, courtesy of The Atlantic

Once again the news world has errantly relied on Wikipedia for its information. Worse, they used it as the basis for the premise of their article. Max Fisher of The Atlantic recently published an editorial about the protests in the Middle East and beyond (“An Annotated Map of Today’s Protests and of the ‘Muslim World‘ 9/14/12). In it he uses the following map graphic, grabbed from the hallowed ground of Wikipedia and modified to show selected protest sites:


Red indicates violent protests over the film, yellow indicates non-violent protests. Click to enlarge. (Wikimedia/Atlantic)

If you didn’t catch the issue as soon as you looked at the map, don’t feel bad. Apparently neither did the author nor The Atlantic. If you look closely, you will see that the map’s legend is labeled incorrectly as the percentage of Muslim population. How can any group have over 100% of the population in a country? Must be that new math they keep talking about. What the map actually shows is the total population of Muslims in each country. By using this map in this way, the author is (consciously or simply in error) showing the center of Muslim World much farther eastward towards South Asia, when it is generally accepted that the ‘Muslim World’ is defined roughly as North Africa and the Middle East – where the faith has the greatest influence and control. A better map to use in this instance is a map of showing the % of Muslim population. While we don’t think that this was a malicious or intentional deceit, it is certainly one that we would put in the category of a Map FAIL. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Fisher corrects the error and if the use of a correct map will change any of his conclusions.


apple dropping google in cartographic celebrity divorce?

According to several sources close to Apple, the new IOS6 operating system for iPhone will no longer include Google Maps, and will instead feature an Apple developed mapping service believed to be faster, cleaner and more reliable. It will also proudly boast awe inspiring 3d rendering developed by C3, a spin-off of the Swedish auto and aerospace manufacturer SAAB, which was purchased by Apple in July 2011. C3 specialized in developing 3d rendering from color aerial photography.

Rumors about this change have been circulating ever since the purchase of Placebase, a mapping software developer, was revealed in 2009. Initial evidence of a split was seen earlier this year when iPhoto for the iPad was found to be using Open Street Map instead of Google Maps as in previous versions and the outcome became an inevitability when Apple failed to renew its contract with Google that was due to expire at the end of 2012.

9to5Mac Mockup of 3D rendering comparisons

Whilst nothing has been officially announced it is expected that maps will once again be making the headlines at the forthcoming iOS6 launch. Who knows, maybe they can make some fundamental improvements like including the names of rivers in the new maps and find some of the more recently ‘lost cities’.


does crowdsourcing make for more accurate directions?

The answer, in this case is ‘no’. But kudos to German soccer fans for trying after their side Magdeburg (the home of the famous hemispheres) went on a dismal run of form and failed to score in 5 games.

FC Magdeburg Fans offer directions:

According to this article from the team’s fans decided to give them a helping hand by bringing giant fluorescent arrows to direct them toward the goal. They did, in fact, break their duck and scored, but still fell to a 2-1 defeat.


art that takes you places

Matthew Cusick’s art has a hidden side. Get close up and you will see that he has created these wonderful collages from recycled maps.

Using topography, street lines, shading and borders he creates meticulously detailed works that make stunning viewing. The subject matter varies, from horses, to waves and freeway interchanges. A graduate of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art, Matthew resides in Dallas, TX. His work has shown across the world including numerous exhibition in his birthplace, New York City.

He gave this interview to Alice’s Blog at My Modern Met in March of 2011.

What got you into creating portraits and landscapes with maps?
About nine years ago, frustrated with paint and brushes, I just started experimenting with some maps I had laying around the studio. I found that maps have all the properties of a brushstroke: nuance, density, line, movement, and color. Their palette is deliberate and symbolic, acting as a cognitive mechanism to help us internalize the external. And furthermore, since each map fragment is an index of a specific place and time, I could combine fragments from different maps and construct geographical timelines within my paintings.

Maps provided so much potential, so many layers. I put away my brushes and decided to see where the maps would take me. I think collage is a medium perfectly suited to the complexities of our time. It speaks to a society that is over-saturated with disparate visual information. It attempts to put order to the clutter and to make something permanent from the waste of the temporary. A collage is also a time capsule; it preserves the ephemera of the past. It reconstitutes things that have been discarded. A collage must rely on a kind of alchemy; it must combine ordinary elements into something extraordinary.

How long does one piece take?
It is hard to say exactly. I never keep track of the hours. I’ll work on a piece for two or three weeks and then put it aside and start a new one. To really understand what is going on in one piece I need to be working on another. I’ll usually have at least two or three in rotation. I just finished a sixteen-foot wave commission that I’ve been working on for a year. Normally, a four-by-six foot piece takes about three months to complete. The smaller ones can take three to six weeks. The portraits are the most difficult, no matter what size. Sometimes I scrape off all the maps and start over again, and some subjects I work and re-work for years.

How much paint do you use on top of the maps?
I never paint on the maps. I let the maps be themselves and they establish the palette for me. Sometimes there will be an underpainting that is revealed when I scrape off maps that aren’t working. These areas are never planned though, just happy accidents. I do often paint the sky of a composition a single flat color.

If I need to manipulate the values of the maps in order to achieve richer darks, I use ink, mostly walnut ink that I make myself. This way I am not really adding a new medium to the map, only increasing one that is already there—the ink.

What’s your creative process like? What dictates who or what you’ll create next?
I am always thinking about new creations. Usually my best ideas come to me as I’m working on something else or just keeping busy in the studio. Whenever they come I jot them down in a notebook. Then, when I am ready to start something new I look through these notebooks. There are deadlines, and commissions, and sometimes these can lead to your best work as well, but my creative process is very unpredictable. I typically don’t commit myself to anything but the few pieces that have made it from my notebook to hanging in my studio as works in progress. The next pieces are determined by the outcome of the ones that proceeded them.

How has the internet helped you with your career?
My work has traveled very little outside of the United States. The internet has enabled people from all over the world to see my work. Yet they are still only seeing the digital reproductions. Even so, it is a wonderful thing to know that the work is being seen and admired globally.

Many Rivers



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No Sudan movements from map-makers as the South celebrates.

de Südsudan en Southern Sudan ru Южный Судан

Image via Wikipedia

The people of South Sudan celebrated this week as they became Africa’s 54th nation. But cartographers around the world are in no rush to redraw.

Both Google Maps and Bing Maps are still awaiting confirmed geo data for the new border, which has not yet been officially agreed. As confirmed by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the exact location of the border will be determined along with military re-deployments and agreements on natural resources. A 12 mile buffer zone to reduce outbreaks of violence is expected to be part of the final agreement, with Ethiopian troops playing a key peace-keeping role. The conflict in the region is estimated to have cost over 1.5 million lives in decades of violence.

A number of ‘unofficial maps’ have been developed, including this one from London’s Guardian Newspaper, and South Sudan’s own Foreign Ministry has been issuing maps for use by its embassies and foreign diplomatic missions, however they are yet to finally agree the borders or receive official recognition from the United Nations. This should occur in a meeting Thursday, and will follow the EU, United States and Russia’s recognition of the state whose independence was finally declared last Saturday, July 10th.

Juba will be the new capital where many challenges such as extreme poverty will be faced. This is also where the nations wealth of oil reserves will be strategically  managed from.

Google reported that they were awaiting the most accurate data before they would update their Google Maps and Google Earth products with the new nation, until then they have been encouraging locals to produce their own maps in community mapping events.

South Sudan already has its own national soccer team which played its first match against a Kenyan club team on saturday, however currently the world governing body FIFA does not recognize the new nation and matches will remain, like the cartography,  ‘unofficial’.

Republic of South Sudan, via the Mission of the Government of South Sudan.


beware the map police

The crackdown that we suggested would take place on unlicensed mapping in China has begun in earnest. Or Beijing, if you want to be pedantic.Mapworld - China's Google

Possible Punishment for offenders? Linschoten, 1599.

Following the launch of Mapworld by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, the Chinese government said that all providers of online Mapping, including Google, would require a state issued license by July 1st. Reminders of the imminent deadline are now being issued by the bureau’s press office.

Many unauthorized sites and applications which use geolocation are powered with free Google Maps, whereas those approved providers purchase government supplied mapping. According to the bureau this protects the consumer and also prevents sensitive local information from being released.

In all, 46 sites have been ordered to change their mapping provider to get government approval or face as yet unknown punishment. Those contacted include the Chinese social media site Jiepang, who have already applied for a license and sent employees to take part in government ‘training’.


Japan Earthquake locator map – March 11th 2011 Japan Earthquake map

Quake locations - Japan 3/11/11

Check out this Bing map featuring all of the earthquake and aftershock locations along with magnitudes. We have also included links to videos as they come available, many of which have been shared on youtube by eyewitnesses. We will continue to add information to the map as it emerges.

Brought to you by the custom mapping team.


Map World launches ‘Final’ version

With a Presidential visit in full swing in the US, the Chinese leader Hu Jintao will have no problem finding his way around now that China’s answer to Google Maps is fully operational.

During the final quarter of 2010 the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping added more than 2 million items of geodata covering thousands of miles of roads and points of interest in the China region. There is also now an English translation for the 11 million place names the service includes.

Mapworld - China's Google

The site, which is free to access, has been visited by 30 million users from over 200 countries according to official figures. The service is the basis for a push by the Chinese government to control online mapping services in the region. All companies providing such services will be required to purchase an operating license, with the deadline recently extended to July 1st of this year. Around half of the 200 domestic and overseas companies who have applied for licenses have received them so far.

Meanwhile with global businesses increasingly woven into the fabric of Chinese industry and Mapworld’s specifically detailed content for this region, it is bound to become more relevant as a business tool, and go some way to achieving its overall goal. This is,  according to Song Chaozhi, Deputy Director of the bureau  “to build Mapworld into an international brand”.

Try Mapworld here.


It’s a map, Map World

At long last, geographers, cartographers, travelers and businesses can finally explore the world as it was meant to be – using ‘Map World’,  the Chinese government‘s answer to Google Maps.

Map World from the People's Republic of China

Map World

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping unveiled the program which will give internet users a unique insight into global geography in and around Beijing and more that 200 other Chinese cities. Users can zoom in to street view on the  capital  in all of its glory, however views of the rest of the world are more limited to the extent that once zooming is attempted above 500m  the screen turns white.

Controversially, the program includes the province of southern Tibet within China’s borders. This is the area also known as  Arunachal Pradesh, one of two territories in dispute with India. The other is Aksai Chin, a region of Kashmir, which Map World incorporates into the Xinjiang province. The bureau has  chosen to protect sensitive areas such as military bases which can be clearly seen on the Google version – a sensitive issue after revelations such as one in 2008  that a newly constructed  Chinese Navy ballistic missile submarine could be seen in commercially available satellite photographs.

Map World does allow access to detailed maps of Chinese provinces including road and rail maps, with pushpin and distance features similar to Google (in so far as I can read the e-book instruction manualsimplified Han according to my browser).  There are also links to a number of other publications by the Bureau including a special atlas – “to reflect China’s reform and opening up 30 years of glorious history and brilliant achievements” published in conjunction with hundreds of government agencies, and following some of the worst flooding China has seen in decades, a disaster map (crashed at time of writing)  featuring detailed statistics and information on regional disasters.

Map World - Regional View

Map World - Regional View

The launch follows a move in May by the Chinese government to require all online mapping providers to obtain a license. In order to obtain such a license they are required to maintain servers in mainland China. Google has not yet applied for such a license – its most local servers are in Hong Kong – and the maps could share the fate of its other blocked services such as Youtube and Picasa. China’s number 1 video site is the locally hosted Youku (special treat in that link), which has benefited significantly from government regulation.

China has taken significant steps to make a product available to its people that will rival currently available offerings and almost inevitably replace them. Whether that is replacement by force or by choice remains to be seen.

Give Map World a try here (after brushing up on your Chinese)


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