Posts Tagged ‘cartography

29
Jan
13

CAR-Tography

A UK design agency has reproduced the world map using outlines of Landrover’s familiar range of 4×4 vehicles.

Under the title ’70% of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by Discovery’ this delightful marketing piece uses  irregularly shaped topography to accommodate its vehicle silhouettes. This is a great example of cartographic double entendre that is arguably more honest and open than many accepted or ‘real’ world maps in print.

This is not the first imaginative, travel-themed campaign adopted by Landrover, according to the Creative Review Blog. In 2011 they used a cluster of passport stamps in the shape of a Land Rover Vehicle as part of a print campaign.

What Cartographic Advertising favorites stick in your mind? Let us know in the comments.

landrovermap4_0

landrovermap2_0

30
Nov
12

In Theaters Now – Caught Mapping, The Movie.

Ever wondered what goes into a map? We let the cameras behind the scenes at Maps.com to reveal the intricate and detailed work of our expert draftsmen and scouts. Its truly amazing some of the tricks they use to ensure that maps can be updated almost every 2 weeks! All done unmindful of gruelling road and weather conditions.

Vacuum frames, glass negatives and zinc plates – Enjoy this 9 minute vintage movie all about mapping for the modern motorist, keeping pace with the rapid change of America’s roads.

03
Oct
12

Maps for the Blind: From 1837 to today.

Recently a group of Maps.com representatives head to San Diego for the ESRI User Conference.

They absorbed a ton of information covering wide and varied topics in the mapping and spatial data arena. One of the main themes of the conference and a recurring one in Cartographic arenas is how we gather, process and present the amazing amounts of data now available via the internet. 3-D terrain data, publicly sourced cartographic data, Landsat imagery and collaborative imagery management are all topics that were discussed and reviewed at the event.

Using a tactile map

When creating maps for the blind, less is truly more. For a product to successfully convey spatial data it must be limited to the most vital information and avoid data ‘clutter’. This most disciplined branch of Cartography has actually been around for over 180 years and  is addressed in this recent Strange Maps article. Those with visual impairment and blindness are required to be more spatially aware than most of us as they negotiate the hazards of everyday life, but when it comes to the bigger picture cartography frequently comes up short in trying to deliver ‘the Google Maps’ experience to this audience.

In 1837 the New England Institute for the Blind published 50 copies of the ‘Atlas of the United States printed for the use of the Blind’. The maps are produced in a Braille-type print that embosses the various lines of the map for touch reading. The text was not produced in Braille (an alphabet consisting of raised dots in various configurations) but in standard Latin characters. The ocean is distinguished by horizontal cross-hatching and the major cities are identified using a key. There are 24 state maps which included numbers for latitude and longitude and illustrations for mountain ranges.

Each map is accompanied by a descriptive piece outlining points of note about the region covered, again using Latin characters as opposed to Braille.

Despite being a pioneering innovation, with such limited circulation it is difficult to regard the atlas as a major commercial success, however parallels can be drawn  with some of the innovations in contemporary cartography as we attempt to use our maps to solve very specific problems and address the difficulties of presenting complex data in a user friendly format. This atlas also represents the first instance of touch operated maps – an altogether more common attribute since the advent of the iPad.

Jump forward to today and there several approaches to providing mapping for the blind. A German project, The Look and Listen map, is attempting to crowd source data that we naturally absorb and process and adapt to as we walk down the street. For example locating street crossings that have tactile paving and sound or vibration alerts can be a vital part of safely negotiating a busy downtown. In France, researchers have used stereo cameras mounted on glasses to record and render 3D imagesthat are then translated through an electronic tactile device that instantly produces embossed maps similar to the ones Lowe produced, but with greater detail and accuracy.

Maine Map for Blind Readers

Map of Maine, S. Howe 1837. C. David Rumsey Collection

“The ability to wander around and get  lost on a map is so much better than getting lost in real life” said Josh Miele, a scientist at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, himself blind, in an interview with NPR. The maps they have developed are printed by the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco using an automated version of Lowe’s embossing process, which enable blind people to build up a strong cognitive understanding of an area before they have visited it.

The report reveals a change in the attitudes of cognitive scientists who have long believed that blind people could never understand maps because they are visual representations of spatial concepts. While tools such as the Trekker Breeze – a GPS device that gives voice prompts regarding current locations, intersections etc offer a detailed view of immediate surroundings, tactile maps give a much broader relational view of an area. Interestingly the concept of all maps being a ‘spatial’ tool as much as a visual tool is reinforced when one considers the pros and cons of the Breeze-type device versus the Braille print version.

Smith Kettlewell have been attempting to bridge the gap with its Audio Tactile maps which include a detailed audio component activated when using a tactile map. They have produced a version for the BART stations in San Francisco including street, concourse and platform maps for each station.

Much more of the atlas can be viewed here in the David Rumsey collection.

18
Sep
12

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 Maps.com’s online map store.

BBC Meet The Author: Prof. Jerry Brotton

18
Sep
12

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:

Image

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.

25
Jul
12

More flooding devastates China.

For the second time in 2 years China is reeling from massive flooding that has left death and destruction in its wake.

NBC News: Flooding in central Beijing

Last weekend Beijing, China‘s capital, experienced its biggest rainstorm in 60 years. Rain flooded streets and underpasses, caused buildings to collapse and led to 37 confirmed fatalities.

Many residents were critical of the preparations and handling by the Chinese authorities, who announced in 2010 the development of a flood risk map to identify those regions most at risk. The city has been modernized so quickly – with much of the most recent focus around the 2008 Olympic Games – critics are suggesting that essential infrastructure improvements including drainage have not kept pace.

In defense, Ministry of Transport Engineers argue that no city could cope with what equates to six months’ average rainfall in a single day.

Most embarrassing for the Chinese authorities was the closure of Beijings airport – stranding tens of thousands and preventing hundreds of flights from coming in or out. China relies heavily on international business visitors as it continues its global expansion of trade.

One silver lining from the catastrophic events in Beijing was the performance of the Three Gorges Dam, which this week began using the final 32 of its hydroelectric generators making it the world’s biggest power plant of this type. The dam appears to have come through the flood peak unscathed and protected areas in the lower Yangtze river from further damage. The plant can now provide the equivalent output of 15 nuclear reactors to the increasingly energy-hungry nation. What isn’t known is whether massive amounts of trash, which clogged the dam after last year’s rains will return to cause further problems.

NBC News: 3 Gorges Dam

23
Jul
12

There’s Buddingtonite in them there hills

The USGS has used hyperspectral imaging data to map out Afghanistan’s mineral resources.

More than 200 flight paths  at 50,000 feet were used to measure surface reflectance  covering over 70% the country. The results were then analyzed to determine which minerals, among other surface materials,  were represented. The various levels (across 800 million pixels of data) were plotted for each flight in a data layer over Landsat satellite imagery.

USGS: Afghanistan

Because the accuracy of the process can be adversely affected by the occurrence of airborne dust, cloud cover and surface moisture, in some areas the map is cross hatched, for example, to indicate possible discrepancies in the data. These inaccuracies do not affect the viability of the process however, given the huge surface areas that can be covered much more practically than with any other process. The results also show the locations of vegetation, water, ice and snow cover.

No news on when a new version of Google maps is due out with ‘mineral deposits view’ as a switchable layer.

22
Jun
12

Calling All Patrons of Past Pineapple Produce Plantations

Next time you have some extra cash lying around, why not use it to buy a tropical island?  98% of Lanai, the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, was just sold to the sixth richest man on Earth.

Lanai, HI

How does this affect you?  Well, if you happened to be aiming for Hawaiian island ownership sometime in the next few years, let’s just say that it will take more than a few pineapples to barter a deal.  Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, reportedly forked over roughly half a million big ones to long-time owner and head of Dole Food Company, David Murdock.

Lanai is home to a couple of five-star Four Seasons resorts, amongst other residential and commercial infrastructure, but hold on – it gets more interesting.

Lanai’s Decimated Pineapple Fields

Here’s a breakdown of the island’s geography:

* The land area totals ~141 square miles
* Roughly 3,000 people call Lanai “home”
* At one point in time, 75% of the world’s pineapples were grown on the island
* There is one school: Lanai High and Elementary School
* There are two golf courses; both were designed by professional golfers
* There are NO traffic lights
* 400 of its ~430 miles of roads are unpaved
* Many of the island’s most spectacular spots can only be seen by four-wheel drive

Struggling with tourism, it is speculated that Ellison may provide economic stimulation to draw in more people to Lanai.  Or, maybe he’ll just keep it for himself.  That’s what being a billionaire is all about, right?

Garden of the Gods, Lanai, HI

05
Jun
12

no one’s snoring in dull or boring

Location related news flash:

The tension is building in the closely related, soon (hopefully) to be sister towns of Dull, Scotland, and Boring, Oregon, according to reports from the BBC and MSNBC, as well as numerous other media organizations on what must be a slow news day.

This is a picture of the Boring/Oregon City si...

The scheme, to make them ‘sister towns’ is the brainchild of Perthshire resident Elizabeth Leighton, who traveled through Boring on a cycling vacation and on seeing the name immediately called her friend, a Dull resident. Dull is a small village in Perthshire, not too far from Edinburgh, Scotland, while in mediocre contrast Boring is home, just outside Portland, to 12000 residents in what, unsurprisingly, is an unincorporated area. If that comparison wasn’t startlingly black and white enough for you, Dull’s main commercial activity is tourism, while Boring is considerably more industrial.

Although it is widely reported that Boring was named after settler William H Boring, and Dull from the Gaelic word for ‘meadow’, we are behind the alternative explanation that boring is so called due to a distinct lack of excitement there since the arrival of a straightlaced settler called Bill. Meanwhile Dull earned its name after more than 1000 years of overcast weather predating the Domesday book  (both entirely fictional of course).

A decision out of Oregon is expected to be delivered without pomp or ceremony by Wednesday morning, GMT. It is believed to have been tabled as part of the agenda of the Boring Community Planning Organisation, who’s constitution prohibits ‘extraordinary general meetings,’ we imagine.

 

STOP PRESS: (Well 24 hours later) Officials in Boring DID in fact vote yes to the relationship. Celebrations ensue in Dull and Boring locations. 

 

Dull, Perthshire, Scotland in a rare moment of excitement: Google Maps.

Boring, OR: Enthusiasm couldn’t be higher. Google Maps.

18
May
12

another member of the axis of google-bashers speaks up

With China actively seeking to eliminate Google from its virtual shores, even going to the effort of creating its own version, Iran has turned up the heat on the internet mapping giant this week over its failure to label the Persian Gulf, according to a report from CNN.

National Geographic Bible Lands 1938

1938: National Geographic – The Bible Lands

The Iranians believe that Google is making a political statement by failing to use the Persian Gulf label, which has in recent years been re-titled ‘The Arabian Gulf’ by some believing it is more ‘politically correct’.

The Persian Gulf is coveted by Iranians as a statement of power and ownership over the gulf, and refers back to the nation’s history in the Persian Empire. Proponents of the Arabian Gulf name suggest that as 70% of the Gulf coast is NOT in Iran, that the Arabian Gulf is more appropriate, and that the use of Persia is an anachronism even in Iran, where the population is a mix of Persians, Arabs, Kurds and numerous other ethnic groups.

Iran has raised similar complaints against various institutions for decades. A simple Google search finds correspondence with the Dutch Airline KLM during the mid 1990′s after they referred to the Arabian Gulf in their in-flight magazine. More recently thousands of people protested through Facebook ’causes’ when the US Navy used Arabian Gulf, the Economist magazine was banned when it referred to the waterway as ‘The Gulf’ and reportedly the infamous Louvre gallery in Paris, France found itself in hot water when its guidebooks did the same.

A look at maps going back to the turn of the century in Maps.com’s National Geographic Classic Collection reveals, interestingly that published print maps have always typically used the Persian Gulf label. One edition from 1991 shows both Arabian Gulf and Persian Gulf labels, but was designed to highlight the various disputes and issues of the region at that time.

Referring to the International Hydrographic Organization, sometimes used by Cartographers as the ‘final word’ on water naming conventions (“The Vision of the IHO is to be the authoritative worldwide hydrographic body which actively engages all coastal and interested States to advance maritime safety and efficiency and which supports the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment” ) last updated its materials in 1953 and clearly refers to the water as The Persian Gulf. But for those who use the Times Atlas of the World there is a distinct lack of controversy as they opt to name it ‘The Gulf’ (what next, “The Ocean” and “The Land Mass”??)

National Geographic Middle East In Turmoil 1991

1991: National Geographic – Middle East States in Turmoil

Google is of course an easy, and high profile target when it comes to this type of dispute. For one, any assault on Google, the world’s third biggest superpower behind Apple and Microsoft, is bound to make headlines or at least come out near the top in a Bing search. And for two, any irate consumer who wants to bash the search engine giant can take their pick of lost cities and mislabeled waterways to rant about.

National Geographic Middle East

Today: National Geographic – The Middle East

What they can be accused of is sidestepping the issue a little. If you type ‘Persian Gulf’ into Google Maps, it will take you to the center of the unlabeled body of water with a nice red pin to mark the spot. If you type in Arabian Gulf, it suggests “Arabian Gulf, Kuwait” which when clicked takes you to the same body of water, very close to the coastline of Kuwait. Type in other waterways of lesser profile – Caspian Sea, English Channel, Baltic Sea, Strait of Gibraltar and every one of them is labeled. So maybe Google lost its nerve on this one. (Google maps in fact fails to label the East Sea, AKA The Sea of Japan, depending on whether you are from Korea or Japan – so it has previous form here).  An anonymous Google representative argued that they simply ‘dont have labels’ for every body of water. It can be really frustrating when you run out of labels. Perhaps they could have borrowed the one from “Ditch #1, Osceola AR.”

From our point of view at Maps.com, newly published maps follow the convention set by leading cartographic publishers and organizations like the IHO – and will continue to be ‘The Persian Gulf’ until further notice.

Maps.com World Map

Today: Maps.com – New Century World Map




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