July 29th, 2013
Actual European Discoveries: land unknown by humans before the Age of Exploration…
Every Columbus Day, we're reminded of the difference between discovery and "discovery" – and rightly so. But let's not sell Europe short; after all, European explorers found plenty of diminutive islands that no human had ever seen before, along with extravagant amounts of ice and snow. Just the islands alone add up to more than 0.14% of the world's total land area, and today they're home to more people than live in all of Connecticut!
All sarcasm aside, it's worth remembering that almost everywhere Europeans went, they were met by existing inhabitants. [...]
January 19th, 2013
The World Is What You Make It:
This is a map that takes some time to get your head around; quite literally, because to appreciate it fully, you need to consider it both with its north side and its south side up.
[...] There is no right side up – or rather: there is no wrong side up. For this is a planisphere palindrome, a planet-chart that can be 'read' the same way 'upside up' and upside down.
That Slartibartfast was a sneaky old bugger.
June 6th, 2012
The Yorkshire Ranter has plotted a map showing which local council areas authorised the most Jubilee street parties per head of population.
It turns out my home borough of North Tyneside is a little island of monarchism. Who knew?
[Via Blood & Treasure]
April 17th, 2012
This interactive map of Population Density presents a very different perspective on the world.
It's not surprising that as you ratchet up the population density filter Australia disappears from view early on, but it's pretty amazing to see how long Greater London stays on the map, and that it survives longer than any part of the United States. As always, knowing that London is a densely populated city is a very different thing from being able to see how few parts of the world are populated on that scale.
[Via Flowing Data]
April 14th, 2012
Maps With Me is a pretty good offline mapping program for iOS and Android. Using OpenStreetMap data, it lets you download maps for the countries of your choice and store them on your mobile device, so you can consult maps wherever you are regardless of whether you have a data connection.
The Pro version is the one to go for IMHO, since it allows searching for place/street/business names as well as viewing maps. I'd been using the free Lite version for a bit now, but for my money the Pro version's search function promotes MapsWithMe from the category of useful toy to that of essential tool.
February 28th, 2012
I spent much more time than I'd intended this evening playing with Old Maps Online, which looks to be another project from the creators of the A Vision of Britain through Time site I linked to a couple of years ago.
The initial map and search interface are more powerful on the new site, but as viewing a particular map usually links out to the site actually holding the map the user experience from that point on can be confusing as different sites use somewhat different styles of navigation. However, the biggest and best feature of the new site is that it is global in scope.
I know it's not the same tactile experience as leafing through an old atlas, but I'll take the convenience, flexibility and scope of the electronic version every time. Definitely a site I'll be exploring a lot.
[Via Flowing Data]
January 10th, 2012
Google's Willem Van Lancker has posted a fascinating piece on the evolution of Google Maps, Google Maps: Designing the Modern Atlas:
As Google Maps has broadened in scope, we have also had to address fundamental differences in tasks as basic as navigation and driving directions. We have found that, generally speaking, people navigate primarily by street names in Western countries and by landmarks and points of interest in the East. This is due to a combination of factors including a lack of road names (e.g. in India where locals rely on landmarks) or just a more complex street addressing system (e.g. in Japan where street numbers are assigned by date of construction, not sequentially). [...]
[In Japan...] schoolchildren are taught a set of unique icons for everyday things like post offices and hospitals. To ensure familiarity in that country, replacements were created specific to Japanese users. While we employ standardized icons for many modes of transportation (e.g. buses, trams, trains), subways lack an international sign. As subways are often used by both tourists and locals, the local branding systems for subway stations worked best – helping guide users both on maps and as they navigate outside in the real world. Additionally, a custom body of regional road shields has been maintained, ensuring consistency and familiarity with real-world roadside markers.
I suppose I was somewhat aware that Google Maps featured some degree of regional customisation, but I had no idea how far it went, nor of the sheer range of factors that make maps 'work' for users in (or simply visiting) a given locale.
[Via Flowing Data]
July 12th, 2011
See something or say something plots maps of major cities, showing locations from which people tweeted and locations where they posted photographs to Flickr.
Unfortunately I don't know any of the cities well enough to positively identify the locations revealed by the pictures, but a quick look at Google Maps seems to confirm that many of the concentrations of red dots in London mark the locations of the various royal or public parks.
I wonder what such a map would look like for Newcastle. I can guess where most of the photos would be taken (i.e. on and around the Quayside), but where would all the tweeters be hanging out?
[Via Flowing Data]
July 9th, 2011
Google's Daniel Ford and Josh Batson have been mapping the languages of the World (Wide Web):
Most web pages link to other pages on the same web site, and the few off-site links they have are almost always to other pages in the same language. It's as if each language has its own web which is loosely linked to the webs of other languages. However, there are a small but significant number of off-site links between languages. These give tantalizing hints of the world beyond the virtual. [...]
March 8th, 2011
The latest entry at Strange Maps isn't, technically speaking, a map. Hoewver, what it lacks in map-like qualities it more than makes up in strangeness.
It's a valiant attempt at illustrating what the term "Europe" means, in the form of a Venn diagram. It turns out that it's … complicated.
December 4th, 2010
Lessons learned from this map of the United States of Autocomplete:
- Universities and sports franchises are the most interesting thing about slightly more than half of the states.
- Montana is probably wishing Laurence Fishburne had managed to steer his daughter's acting career in a more conventional, less sensationalist direction.
- Washington state is just plain out of luck.
October 16th, 2010
October 16th, 2010
The World According to San Francisco.
(Which reminds me that I forgot to post about Mapping Stereotypes a couple of weeks ago.)
[Via iamcal and kottke.org, respectively.]
October 14th, 2010
Serving up your recommended daily allowance of vintage map porn: A Discourse on Map Pins and Pinnage…
Pin maps have not much been much used in the past, chiefly because a map pin which would give satisfactory service has not been available for common use. Until recently the map markers obtainable have been little more than old-fashioned carpet tacks having chisel-shaped points which cut the surface of any map into which they were pushed. Tacks with rough steel shanks cannot be pushed far into a map if the tacks are to be pulled out again. Also, rough steel is likely to rust so as to cause the whole tack to deteriorate rapidly.
Thus begins a discourse on the map pin – and its brethren map beads, flags, and buttons – by Willard C. Brinton in his Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts (1919). [...]
The epic Residence of the Men of the Class of 1907, Harvard University, Six Years After Graduation must be seen to be believed.
[Via Kevan Davis]
September 12th, 2010
Middle-Earth Maps, or Google Maps for the Third Age. Beautiful work.
August 19th, 2010
The BBC Dimensions site could easily have devoured my entire evening:
Dimensions takes important places, events and things, and overlays them onto a map of where you are.
Type in your postcode or a place name to get started.
Take, for example, the Apollo 11 lunar landing. I've posted before about a map illustrating how tiny an area Armstrong and Aldrin covered during their various walks across the lunar surface, but seeing the same details superimposed on my local town square or the pitch at St James' Park makes for an even better illustration of the concept.
I do have two small criticisms of the way the site works:
- The site doesn't remember locations between views.
Once you pick an event, you're shown the chart of that event overlaid on the image of a randomly selected geographical area and are then invited to enter a post code or place name upon which to superimpose the map. That's fine first time round, but then when you pick another event the site forgets the place name/post code you entered first time round and picks another random location.
I'd prefer that once you've entered a location the site would remember that location and use it as the default for the next event you selected. I would imagine that most users will want to use the same locale – be it their home, a local landmark or whatever – as the focal point for successive comparisons.
- Sometimes close enough isn't good enough.
Even when using post codes, sometimes the map that is produced won't be quite centered on the location you entered. Trouble is, there's no way I can find to 'grab' the superimposed chart and drag it to precisely where you wanted it.
It so happened that the St James' Park image did sit squarely on the pitch. If the image had been centered on, say, the ground's main stand instead I'd have had no way to move the image so that the entire journey took place on the pitch.
That said, it's a sign of how well-done the site is that these comparatively trivial issues are the biggest gripes I can come up with. It's fine work by all concerned.
August 18th, 2010
The world's population, plotted by latitude and longitude.
(Be sure to move your mouse pointer over each map, which superimposes each chart over a world map and renders the message they convey so much clearer.)
August 3rd, 2010
A Vision of Britain through Time: tell it your location, and it'll show you all sorts of historical maps and statistics about the area. Fascinating.
[Via Phil Gyford]