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

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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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What are subversive cartographies? This issue is addressed a series of presentations organized by Chris Perkins (University of Manchester) and Jörn Seemann (Louisiana State University) for the upcoming 2008 Association of American Geographers meeting (Boston, April 15-19 2008).

“To be subversive, is to wish to overthrow, destroy or undermine the principles of established orders. As such subversive cartographies offer alternative representations to established social and political norms. Maps are no longer cast as mirrors of reality, instead they are increasingly conceived as diverse ways of thinking, perceiving and representing space and place which express values, world-views and emotions. Maps are no longer part of an elite discourse: they can empower, mystify, and enchant. More critical assessments of mapping increasingly explore subversive contexts strongly associated with innovative methodological approaches, with mapping seen as an explicitly situated form of knowledge. This shift has been strongly facilitated by the increasing popularity of new media, burgeoning technological change and newly developing mapping spaces (eg OpenStreetMap, WorldMapper and EmotionMap). So subversive mapping has an agency, which can be enacted outside existing cartographic conventions. It has escaped from the grasp of cartographers: everybody is mapping nowadays.” (edited from the original call for papers)

••••

Subversive Cartographies 1: Papers emphasizing the role of the aesthetic in the construction of alternative and artistic mappings. Common themes are the relations between artistic practice and mapping, narrative and (e)motional cartographies, and the politics of design.

Deconstructing Intentionally Manipulative Maps (IMMs)
Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Minnesota

Radical Cartography: Artists Making Activist Maps
Lize Mogel, Interdisciplinary Artist

Decolonizing Historical Cartography Through Narrative: Champlain’s Voyages Revisited
Margaret Wickens Pearce, Ohio University and Michael Hermann, University of Maine

Lynch Debord
Denis Wood, Independent Scholar

Discussant: Vincent J. Del Casino, California State University Long Beach

••••

Subversive Cartographies 2: Papers focus on the role of technologies and methodologies important in community engagement. Common themes include changing roles of the web, the emancipatory potential of GIS and ways of evaluating the aesthetic.

Subverting Civilization: Re-Mapping World History
Mellina Patterson and Stephen Hanna, University of Mary Washington

Small Voices Magnified: Using Web 2.0 for Mapping Alternative Australian Viewpoints
William Cartwright, RMIT University

Children with Physical Disabilities Map Neighbourhood Accessibility: Methodological Approaches
P. McKeever, and S. Ruddick, University of Toronto

“There is no community in Eastside”: GPS Tracks, Walking Interviews and Stories of Place
Phil Jones, University of Birmingham and James Evans, University of Manchester

Re-focusing on the Visual Politics and Practices of Grassroots GIS: Considering Subversive Potential and Limits
Sarah Elwood, University of Washington

••••

Subversive Cartographies 3: This final session focuses on more abstract aspects of subversion. Common themes include the ambiguities of the subversive, different ways of theorizing the medium and the practical, political and affectual potential of oppositional mapping.

Are Maps Autistic?
J.B. Krygier, Ohio Wesleyan University

“They have Stolen our Amazonia”: Internet Information Flows, Map Hoaxes and Nationalistic Sentiments in Brazil
Jörn Seemann, Louisiana State University

Subverting Carolina Blue: Mapping UNC-Chapel Hill through Drifting and DisOrientation
Craig Dalton, Counter Cartographies Collective UNC Chapel Hill

The Emotional Life of Maps and Other Visual Geographies
Jim Craine, California State University, Northridge and Stuart Aitken, San Diego State University

Discussant: Chris Perkins, University of Manchester

••••

Abstracts for Subversive Cartographies Presentations Below:

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What if the world was spherical, but it didn’t matter?

Most of you have been unable to avoid the flat-earth kerfuffle on the day-time talk show The View.

On a recent episode one of the hosts, Sherri Shepherd, said she doesn’t believe the theory of evolution. Whoopi Goldberg, also a host, asked Shepherd “Is the world flat?”

Shepherd’s response was “…I Don’t know. I… I never thought about it, Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about it.”

Most maps show the earth as flat. Map projection is the process whereby the surface of the 3D earth is transformed into 2 dimensions. A flat earth is usually more useful than a spherical one.

Awhile back I made a flat-earth globe for folks like Ms. Shepherd. It is a globe designed for niche cosmologies.

More images and basic instructions for making your own flat-earth globe below.

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