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Archive for the ‘02 Why Are You Making Your Map?’ Category

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When Bill Bunge mapped out the locations of car/pedestrian collisions in Detroit (Detroit Geographical Expedition, 1968) he and the map were advocating a way of thinking about what was happening to the black community in Detroit – and advocating for change.

All maps advocate.

To advocate means to “to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.” The word derives from the Latin advocate: “to call to one’s aid.”

What map does not advocate, or argue for something? We are always calling maps to our aid.

Three free books on maps and advocacy have been made available for download recently, and are worth a look.

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Two New PDF Books [added June 6 2009]:

Good Practices in Participatory Mapping (2mb PDF here, 2009). Published by International Fund for Agricultural Development.

A review of participatory mapping methods.

This report will review existing knowledge related to participatory mapping and recent developments. Specifically:

  • Section 1 will define the main features of participatory mapping;
  • Section 2 will discuss key applications of participatory mapping;
  • Section 3 will present specific tools used in participatory mapping, including their strengths and weaknesses;
  • Section 4 will identify good practices and explore the significance of process in participatory mapping initiatives.

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Toolbox & Manual: Mapping the Vulnerability of Communities (4.4mb PDF English version here, Portuguese version aqui, 2008). Published by Salzburg University Centre for Geoinformatics.

A overview of concepts and methods for community mapping, focused on vulnerability.

Within the research and project context it is aimed to provide the local communities with appropriate maps of their communities. The maps should enhance planning and decision making processes within the communities in regard to reduce local vulnerabilities and allow appropriate planning of disaster response measures. It is the first time in Mozambique that maps have been produced with such an accuracy (high resolution data) and for disaster risk management through the integration of participatory practices.

mappingvulnerability

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Visualizing Information for Advocacy: an Introduction to Information Design (7mb PDF here, January 2008). Published by Tactical Technology Collective.

Succinct, well-designed, with many good examples of maps and information graphics for advocacy.

…a manual aimed at helping NGOs and advocates strengthen their campaigns and projects through communicating vital information with greater impact. This project aims to raise awareness, introduce concepts, and promote good practice in information design – a powerful tool for advocacy, outreach, research, organization and education.

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Maps for Advocacy: An Introduction to Geographic Mapping Techniques (3mb PDF here, September 2008). Published by Tactical Technology Collective.

A great overview of maps and advocacy with many examples and resources.

The booklet is an effective guide to using maps in advocacy. The mapping process for advocacy is explained vividly through case studies, descriptions of procedures and methods, a review of data sources as well as a glossary of mapping terminology. Scattered through the booklet are links to websites which afford a glance at a few prolific mapping efforts.

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Field Guide for Humanitarian Mapping (3.2mb PDF here, March 2009). Published by MapAction.

A textbook for using maps and GIS in humanitarian work.  The Guide provides detailed information on data collection (GPS) and the use of Google Earth and MapWindow (free mapping software).

The guide was written to meet the need for practical, step-by-step advice for aid workers who wish to use free and open-source resources to produce maps both at field and headquarters levels. The first edition contains an introduction to the topic of GIS, followed by chapters focused on the use of two recommended free software tools: Google Earth, and MapWindow. However much of the guidance is also relevant for users of other software.

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Some related resources:

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I was moving some piles of junk in a storage room and came across a 1934 U.S. Public Works Administration book on Mississippi Valley public works projects (Report of the Mississippi Valley Committee of the Public Works Administration, October 1, 1934). The book is full of maps and other information graphics influenced by Otto Neurath, Gerd Arntz, and Marie Reidemeister’s picture language, isotype.

I always thought isotype had a great look to it.  Its context, in Vienna Circle logical positivism, is a bit wonky, and the idea that symbols – if designed carefully enough – could be “universally communicable” across all cultural and social differences, is merely the dream of those born with a peculiar neurology.  Nevertheless, the isotype “look” is cool in a retro sort of way, and it has certainly influenced the current spare design ethos in cartography.

Some annotated examples of the isotype “language” from a 1937 article by Neurath:

isotype_lang1 sotype_lang2 sotype_lang3

The Gerd Arntz Web Archive is a spectacular collection of thousands of isotype symbols designed by Arntz. All seem to be free to use. (symbols are copyrighted by Pictoright – thanks to Jonathan Hunt for pointing this out). The site also has a breif biography of Arntz.

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In casting about the internets, I was gladdened to find someone had scanned the isotype classic, Atlas of Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft (1930, 14+mb PDF).  As far as I know the atlas was printed (on sheets) in limited numbers and has never been easy to find.  Sybilla Nikolow discusses the atlas in her article “Society and Economy: An Atlas in Otto Neurath’s Pictorial Statistics from 1930.” (PDF)

A sampling of maps and graphs from the Atlas follows, and a few more useful isotype resources can be found way at the end.

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A few interesting isotype resources:

The Isotype Institute documents the history of isotype and has much useful information.

A snazzy discussion of isotype done up by mixing isotype and text is Modern Hieroglyphics. (PDF)

Ellen Lupton reviews the history and significance of isotype in her article “Reading Isotype.” (PDF)

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Neurath and the Vienna Method of Picture Statistics (PDF). A chapter out of an e-book called Speaking of Graphics An Essay on Graphicacy in Science, Technology and Business by Paul J. Lewi. Seems like a nice overview of the history of isotype and its characteristics.

The DADA Companion has much information on design and art related to isotype. Search for “isotype” or “Neurath.”

A new book to be published in April of 2009 is called The Transformer: Principles of Making Isotype Charts by Marie Neurath and Robin Kinross.

Austin Kleon’s blog on graphic design has a nice posting on isotype, comics, and information graphics design. Search the blog for other isotype references.

The web magazine Mute has a feature called The Dutch Are Weeping in Four Universal Pictorial Languages At Least that reviews a series of contemporary exhibits that focus on isotype and related ideas. One exhibit called After Neurath has a significant amount of information and links.

The New York Times summarized 2007 US and Coalition member deaths in Iraq in a isotype-esque chart (click for larger version):

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Stroom De Haag writes (in the online magazine Archined) about Neurath as the “grandfather of open source.”

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Prähistorische Karte von Südwestdeutschland und der Schweiz, 1879

(Protohistoric and Prehistoric Discoveries …)

Looking at working maps – manuscripts, field sketches, and provisional maps – reveals a diversity of symbolization and design which are lost in the monoculture of finished, standardized maps.

HistCarto brings together more than 4000 17th-19th century French manuscript maps.  All are working maps, and most are hand drawn.  Most contain signs of assessment:

These “signs of assessment” include textual commentaries or the addition of symbols, which provide some indication of the ways the maps were made or the uses to which they were put in an administrative or military capacity.

Map symbols and topics shown here include prehistoric sites, farm fields, trees and forests, rivers, hunting grounds, geology, terrain, and property parcels.

The site is in French.  Once at the site, click on the Acces a la base link on the right.  Then select Recherche (on the left) and Simple.  I tried to link each of the maps below to its page at the HistCarto site, but you must be logged into the site for the links to work.  Not optimal!  So I removed the links.  To find the maps, just search the site using the map’s title (below each map).

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Detail, farm fields near Neuhof forest (1787):

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Plan de la forêt du Neuhof

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Detail, farm fields near Poppenreuth (1795):

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Mappa Geographica Parochiae Poppenreutensis

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Detail, farm fields near Strasbourg (no date):

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Carte des environs de Strasbourg

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Detail, farm fields near Herlisheim (1760):

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Projet d’une nouvelle route entre Gambsheim et Drusenheim

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Details, trees,  Château de Karlsruhe (no date):

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Plan du château de Karlsruhe

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Detail, forests near Molsheim (no date):

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Plan de Molsheim

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Detail, forests near Mont Sainte Odile (1810):

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Les environs du Mont Sainte-Odile

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Detail, forests near Thann (1815):

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Lever à Vue de la Ville de Thann et des Montagnes qui l’environnent

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Drachenkopf Forest, detail and full map (no date):

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Forêt de Drachenkopf

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Detail, map of Strasburg (1765):

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Plan de Strasbourg en 1765

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Hunting grounds in the vicinity of Strasbourg, reserved for the king and officers (1739):

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Terrains de chasse aux environs de Strasbourg

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Revision on Geologic Map, Barr Region (no date):

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Région de Barr: Carte Géologique

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Detail, hand-drawn map of Euphrates (no date):

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The river Euphrates with the Cilician Taurus and Northern Syria

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Detail, terrain near Munster (no date):

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Carte des Vosges depuis Belfort jusqu’à Landau

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Detail, terrain on map of mining concessions near Thann and Dauendorf (1705):

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Concessions minières dans les environs de Thann et de Dauendorf

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Map showing two roads linking Wissembourg and Fischbach and a new road (in yellow) (no date):

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Deux routes reliant Fischbach et Wissembourg

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Parcels in a portion of municipal Nordheim (1782):

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Portion du communal de Nordheim

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“In the morning they come out with queer-looking eyes…”

The above map represents one ward of New York City – the Eleventh.

The saloons as put upon this map were ascertained by the reporter of the Christian Union by actual count.

The saloons are largely beer saloons: for the base of the population is German, and a large intermingling of German sounds, German signs, German wares, and German smells generally, prevail.

Pretty much all the available space, after enough room has been taken out for houses and grown people and huckster’s stands, is filled by stout, chubby, healthy-looking children – with here and there a punier waif – of all ages and sizes, mostly young and small, and of all degrees of cleanliness, from comparatively clean to superlatively dirty.

The Ward is reported by the police to be as orderly as any in the city.

The German is peculiar.  Unlike his Irish and Yankee cousins, he does not make a great noise and hurrah over his cups, and wind up with a street brawl.  He gathers unto himself a few kindred spirits, and together they wend their way to the Trink-Halle, where, in a little back room, with closed doors and drawn curtains, they guzzle beer together till none of them can see.  In the morning they come out with queer-looking eyes, but there has been no disturbance in the place.

Said a clergyman to your reporter, “I came into the ward expecting to find nothing but filth and vice.  But I could take you into hundreds of homes where you would find ease and comfort and even culture.

Balance Sheet:

  • 19 Churches and Sunday-Schools, 5 Industrial Schools, 1 Hospital
  • 346 Saloons
  • One saloon to every 200 population.

Christian Union, February 19, 1885.  PDF of entire article and map is here.

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Denis Wood & John Fels’ new book The Natures of Maps is available now from the University of Chicago Press and many other sources. The lowest price I can find at this time is $29 (at Buy.com). Denis is, of course, co-author of the Making Maps book.

The book is big – almost a foot square – with color maps on almost every page.  The book had a harrowing path to publication.  Originally under contract to ESRI Press, the book was in final galleys (ready to print but for a handful of edits) when ESRI Press decided to cancel it and a dozen other books in process.  Given the expense of producing the book (and the cost of reproduction rights to the illustrations) this seemed to be a peculiar business decision.  The University of Chicago Press subsequently acquired the book, more or less ready to print.

Here’s an “editorial” blurb I wrote for the book:

If Wood & Fels’ The Power of Maps showed that maps were powerful, The Natures of Maps reveals the source of that power. The Natures of Maps is about a simple but profound idea: maps are propositions, maps are arguments. The book confronts nature on maps – nature as threatened, nature as threatening, nature as grandeur, cornucopia, possessable, as a system, mystery, and park – with intense slow readings of exemplary historical and contemporary maps, which populate this full color, beautifully illustrated and designed book.

The careful interrogation of maps reveals that far from passively reflecting nature, they instead make sustained, carefully crafted, and precise arguments about nature. The Natures of Maps shows how maps establish nature, and how we establish maps. The power of maps extends not only from their ability to express the complexities of the natural world in an efficient and engaging manner, but in their ability to mask that they are an argument, a proposal about what they show.

The implications of the arguments in The Natures of Maps are significant, empowering map users and makers. The Natures of Maps shows that neither map users or map creators are passive, merely accepting or purveying reality; they are, instead, actively engaged in a vital process of shaping our understanding of nature in all its complexity. Map users have a critical responsibility, the power to accept, reject, or counter-argue with the maps they encounter. Map creators have creative responsibility, the power to build and finesse their arguments, marshalling data and design for broader goals of understanding and communicating truths about the world. Rethinking how maps work in terms of propositional logic, with its 2000-year history and vast methodological and theoretical foundation, promises to be one of the most profound advances in cartographic theory in decades, and The Natures of Maps shows the way in a captivating manner.

Considering maps from the perspective of propositional logic provides a rigorous foundation for a theory of the map that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences will find Wood and Fels’ The Natures of Maps intellectually sound, methodologically useful, and deeply engaging. But the beauty of The Natures of Maps is that it is not merely an academic book. Wood and Fels’ The Natures of Maps is a powerful, beautifully illustrated and engaged argument about maps as arguments that will appeal to map lovers, map makers, map users, and map scholars.

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Drawing maps used to be a big part of the geography curriculum in the U.S. One guide for students, published in 1900, is Schutze’s Amusing Geography and System of Map Drawing by Lenore Schutze.  Tips for Africa, “The Skull” as Schutze sees it:

1. Cut a square into four smaller squares, and erase the southwest one.

2. Mark the cross-line from east to west, “The Equator.”

3. Draw Tripoli at the north of the division line from north to south, and Cape Town at the south end.

4. Locate the mouths of the Nile River west of the middle of the north side of the second square, and draw from them to a point north of the Equator, on the east side, and print “Cape Guardafui.”  Draw the Red Sea south of this line.

5. Draw from Cape Guardafuit to Cape Town, and print “Cape of Good Hope.”  Zanzibar, Pretoria, and Pietermaritzburg must be south of this line.

6. The west side of Africa extends somewhat above the north side of the first square, and does not quite reach the Equator.

7. Madagascar slants in about the same direction as the line from Cape Guardafui to Cape Town.

The entire page on Africa from Schutze’s Amusing Geography and System of Map Drawing (1900) p. 43 is below:

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Making maps to counter prevailing assumptions and beliefs is a well established tradition.  Counter mapping, radical mapping, protest mapping … the map proposes an alternative.  Bolstered by its authoritative aura, the map can be quite convincing.

Geographers John Agnew, Thomas Gillespie, and Jorge Gonzalez, with Political Scientist Brian Min (all of UCLA) propose an alternative to the mantra – repeated by just about all on the political Right and Left – that the Iraq “Surge” has succeeded.

Agnew and his colleagues argue that the celebrated decline in violence in Baghdad is actually the result of inter-ethnic cleansing which began prior to the “Surge.”  And this counter-proposal about the “Surge” is bolstered by a garrison of maps.

Counter-mapping the “Surge” depends on a relatively mundane set of meteorological satellite data, ironically generated by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – Operation Linescan System (KMSP-OLS). Nighttime light is one kind of data collected by this program.

Nighttime light certainly suggests population patterns – we have all seen the global maps of nighttime light – and also access to electricity.

Agnew and his colleagues asked a relatively simple question that can be answered with a series of maps based on the KMSP-OLS data: how has emitted nighttime light in Baghdad changed as U.S. Military strategy in Iraq changed?

The study area consists of the ten security districts in Baghdad, here indicated on a Landsat ETM satellite image.

Nighttime light imagery was selected and analyzed for dates after the U.S. invasion of Iraq (November 16, 2003, 9pm), before the “Surge” (March 20, 2006, 9pm), and after the “Surge” (March 21 and December 16, 2007, both 9pm).

The results seem to contradict proclamations of the success of the “Surge.” In general, Baghdad’s nighttime light increased between the initial U.S. invasion and mid 2006, then begins a rapid decline prior to the implementation of the “Surge” strategy.

Even more interesting, the mid-2006 decrease in nighttime light is not evenly distributed in Baghdad.  The areas of declining nighttime light correspond with areas of ethnic violence and cleansing as documented in the Jones Report and its maps.

The greatest decline is in East and West Rashid – historically mixed Sunni and Shia – but also Adhamiya (Sunni), Kadamiya (Shia), Rusafa, and Karada (mixed and Sunni).  No change was observed in Sadr City (Shia), New Baghdad (Shia), Karkh (Green Zone), and Al Mansour (historically mixed but heavily Sunni by late 2007). This is certainly easier to see on a map:

Agnew and his colleagues conclude:

Our findings suggest that … the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved but with a tremendous decline in the extent of residential intermixing between groups and a probable significant loss of population in some areas.

Furthermore, the nighttime light signature of Baghdad data when matched with ground data provided by the report to the US Congress by Marine Corps General Jones and various other sources, makes it clear that the diminished level of violence in Iraq since the onset of the surge owes much to a vicious process of inter-ethnic cleansing.

Disagree?  Raise your own army of data and maps to counter this counter-“Surge” proposition.

The text of Agnew, Gillespie, Gonzalez, and Min’s article “Baghdad Nights: Evaluating the U.S. Military ‘Surge’ Using Nighttime Light Signatures” is, for review and educational purposes, here.

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From the New York Times, August 2, 1892:

American Maps Are Bad

“It is doubtful,” says Mr. Jacques W. Redway, in an article on the projection of maps in the Proceedings of the Engineering Club of this city. “if anything short of a special act of Providence could give birth to a more beastly specimen of cartography than the average American wall-map designed for educational purposes.” We regret to say that this is strictly true. Our Federal Coast and Geological Survey maps are of the highest artistic and scientific merit, as Mr. Redway says. The topographical survey of New-Jersey, as issued by the New-Jersey Geological Survey, gives maps which deserve the enthusiasm of all who see them, and they are published by the State without profit at a cost rivaling that of any maps issued. But the ordinary wall-map and the atlas ordinarily accessible to people of limited means in this country are the worst in the world, barring some maps in China or Turkey. As for Japan, the country as a whole is better mapped than our own. There is nothing accessible in this country like the cheap German maps.

Thank God for the bad maps of China and Turkey.

Original article:

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Making maps is rife with rules. But following rules does not necessarily produce a great (or even good) map. It may be the implementation of broader design principles that leads to a successful map.

Principles are an intellectual generalization of a broad field of knowledge: a kind of map, in the broadest sense of the word.

They are useful for guiding map makers and helping map users understand how maps work.

There are numerous sets of cartographic design principles. My previous post on Edward Tufte distilled six map design principles (or commandments as I called them) from Tufte’s first book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

In 1999 the British Cartographic Society’s Design Group proposed “Five Principles of Cartographic Design.” When I first came across this set of principles I thought them interesting – even a bit passionate – a rare state of affairs in the often stoic world of cartography. I added a few maps and my own comments (in italics).

More on these map design principles below: Concept before Compilation, Hierarchy with Harmony, Simplicity from Sacrifice, Maximum Information at Minimum Cost, and Engage the Emotion to Engage the Mind.

Cool maps below include: Geo-Smiley Terror Spree Map, The Continents and Islands of Mankind, Hate Groups and Hate Crimes Map, and Where Commuters Run Over Black Children, Detroit 1968.
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Denis Wood, co-author of Making Maps, has been working on an atlas of the Boylan Heights neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina since the mid 1970s. The atlas, which has never been published in its entirety, is called Dancing and Singing: A Narrative Atlas of Boylan Heights.

Inspired by Bill Bunge’s radical cartography in the 1960s and 1970s, the atlas contains diverse examples of creative, place-inspired maps, including maps of night, crime, fences, graffiti, textures, autumn leaves, routes, the underground, lines overhead, stars, and jack-o-lanterns. The atlas is of particular interest to those engaged in planning, urban history, urban geography, landscape architecture, participatory mapping and GIS, subversive cartography, counter-mapping, and psychogeography. Or anyone who enjoys creative mapping.

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Sign Map (736kb PDF here)

The Atlas has been featured on NPR’s This American Life and in Katharine Harmon’s book You Are Here. All or or parts of the atlas have been shown at The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro, Vermont (1989), the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York (2001), at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles (2002), at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire (2002), at designbox in Raleigh, North Carolina (2004), and Publico Galleries in Cincinnatti, Ohio (2007). The image which opens this entry was taken at the Publico Gallery.

A description of the atlas by Denis and more of it’s maps follow.

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