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Archive for the ‘03 Mappable Data’ Category

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Stop making cartograms! At least until permission is granted from the chap who holds the patent on them.

Karl Karsten’s “population projection” was published in his book Charts and Graphs (1923) and patented in 1925. As with the 1911 “Apportioinment Map” noted in an earlier post, the term “cartogram” was not used by Karsten to describe this creation.  He called it the “Population Projection.”

Curiously, it’s claimed that Karsten also invented the hedge fund.

But back to maps.

Karsten’s patent, (#1,556, 609, October 13, 1925) claimed rights to

…a map of a plurality of territories, having their boundary lines so distorted as to make their included areas represent graphically the relative importance of a given factor other than land area of one area with respect to another area, the boundaries being distorted without losing their familiar and significant features…

Karsten suggests using his “population projection” as a base upon which to map other data, such as truancy rates (below).  Thus it’s a bivariate cartogram (reproduced from p. 667 in Charts and Graphs):

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The idea is good, but in practice it’s a bit wonky.  Several western US states are reduced to toothpick dimensions, and note the New York goiter (New York City). Also, Karsten seems to have some degree of difficulty maintaining the horizontal with the map and the legend. Could he have had an inner-ear infection?

But back to maps.

The illustration in Karsten’s patent reveals his methodology:

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Details of the methodology can be found in the text of the patent.

Karsten, in Charts and Graphs, explains the justification for using the “population projection” which is, more or less, the same line of argument used in current discussions of cartograms:

We do not sell our goods to the mountains, bill them to the rivers, or credit the forests with payment. Probably from at least a subconscious appreciation of this circumstance, many national distributors, advertisers, and sales-managers have discarded maps on which the rivers, forests or mountains are shown when they are studying the geographic distribution of their sales. The up-to-date sales manager lots his distributing points and records his sales in a great many ways upon maps which carry only faint State outlines or a the most show the location of larger cities. But why stop here? Your sales manager does not sell to square miles, acres, or other units of land-area measurement. He sells to human beings. Why should he use maps which show, not human beings, but square miles, that is, maps in which the areas indicate not the population but the land surface? Why indeed!

The result of this projection of the map of the United Statues upon a population basis rather than a land-area basis will be most surprising even to the most hardened travelers.

Needless to say, the picture of sales conditions which such a map exhibits, will be far more valuable and useful than the picture upon the usual land-area basis. In short, the corrected areas of the States serve to give an excellent background or evaluation of the importance of the statistics plotted upon the map.

The number of ways in which the map can be altered and projected for special purposes upon special bases is unlimited, but all are alike in one respect – that their areas no longer show physical land areas in square miles but show the actual values more important for the special purposes in view.

In 2005 a series of cartogram patents (here here here) failed to cite Karsten’s patent.

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Guide Psychogéographique de OWU (2009, med res jpg)

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During the week of June 15-19 (2009) five intrepid Ohio students and myself engaged in improvisational psychogeography, culminating in the map opening this post. A printable 11″ x 17″ (300dpi 1.4mb) PDF of the map is here.

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Picture 1

Map detail: The path taken through campus followed the outline of a wolfie hand-shadow cast on a campus map.

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Picture 2

Map detail: Stuff smelt, heard, and felt with its allure or disallure indicated with faces.

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The map was the product of a course – Mapping Weird Stuff – I offered at the OWjL (Ohio Wesleyan University Junior League of Columbus) summer camp for gifted and talented middle school students.

Based on the kid’s ideas and work collecting diverse data, I designed a layout and look for the map. The map itself was created in FreehandMX, now dead-tech thanks to Adobe (I still prefer Freehand even though I started with Illustrator back at version 1).

Making the map once again reminded me that it’s fun to make maps, if you have interesting stuff to map. The design and layout are certainly nothing one could generate with typical mapping software – thus the use of graphic illustration software. Diverse and interesting maps are not really the domain of web and pc-based map generation software. Maybe sometimes. Not usually.

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Picture 3

Map detail: An abstracted linear “map” sequencing smells, textures, and sounds from one end to the other of the path investigated.

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My vague intent was to do some kind of weird mapping project on campus – sensory mapping, psychogeography, etc. My search for resources for this age student (grades 6-8) resulted in a few finds, but not much. The materials I compiled on the course blog (here) served as the basis of our work, which developed as the students engaged the ideas. We met for 1.5 hours a day, for 5 days.

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kids

Special glasses indicate how serious we were about this project.
The
Hulk hand inspired confidence in our powers.

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The students, Django, Mallory, McKenna, Erica, and Ben, were great. They jumped into the project, came up with ideas that shaped our direction, and collected all of the data on the map. I had some ideas about what kind of psychogeography we would do, and what kind of map we would create, then it all transmogrified into something else which turned out great.

We did a dérive (“a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances”) to get a feel for the campus and its “resonances,” some blind-folded, ear-plugged tours through the campus (with me or one of the students leading the others along) collecting smells and sounds, as well as a few texture collection expeditions (inspired, in part, by Denis Wood’s Narrative Atlas of Boylan Heights project).

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Guiding much of our work was a single, inspiring Hulk hand.

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A bit of background on Psychogeography:

Psychogeography, according to its founder Guy Debord, is “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

In practice, psychogeography inherently resists any narrow definitions. It encompasses diverse activities that raise awareness of the natural and cultural environment, is attentive to senses and emotions as they relate to place and environment, is often political and critical of the status quo, and must be both very serious and fun.

Psychogeography overlaps with Kevin Lynch’s work on mental maps, as nicely reviewed in Denis Wood’s article “Lynch Debord” as well as work on non-visual sensory-scapes (smellscape, soundscape, touchscape, tastescape, etc.).

The most famous psychogeography map is Debord’s Guide Pychogéographique de Paris:

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Guy Debord, Guide Pychogéographique de Paris

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grassyfoot

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bomb

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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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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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Erwin Raisz is among the most creative cartographers of the 20th century, known in particular for his maps of landforms.

In 1931 Raisz outlined and illustrated the methods behind his landform maps, in an article in the Geographical Review (Vol. 21, No. 2, April 1931). Excerpts from the text and graphics in the article are included below.

Raisz’s approach is to create complex pictorial map symbols for specific landform types. Each specific application, of course, would have to modify the symbols to fit the configuration of particular landforms.

One of the limitations of Raisz’s work is that it is so personal and idiosyncratic that it virtually defies automation or application in the realm of computer mapping. Thus digital cartography has, in some cases, limited the kind of maps we can produce.

Raisz writes:

There is one problem in cartography which has not yet been solved: the depiction of the scenery of large areas on small-scale maps.

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Most of our school maps show contour lines with or without color tints. Excellent as this method is on detailed topographic sheets … it fails when it has to be generalized for a small-scale map of a large area. Nor does the other common method, hachuring, serve better.

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For the study of settlement, land utilization, or any other aspect of man’s occupation of the earth it is more important to have information about the ruggedness, trend, and character of mountains, ridges, plains, plateaus, canyons, and so on-in a word, the physiography of the region.

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Our purpose here is to describe and define more closely a method already, in use, what we may call the physiographic method of showing scenery. This method is an outgrowth of the block diagram. [T]he method was fully developed by William Morris Davis. Professor Davis has used block diagrams more to illustrate physiographic principles than to represent actual scenery.

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Professor A. K. Lobeck’s Physiographic Diagram of the United States and the one of Europe do away entirely with the block form, and the physiographic symbols are systematically applied to the vertical map. His book Block Diagrams is the most extended treatise on the subject.

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It is probable that the mathematically-minded cartographer will abhor this method. It goes back to the primitive conceptions of the early maps, showing mountains obliquely on a map where everything should be seen vertically. We cannot measure off elevation or the angle of slope. Nevertheless, this method is based on as firm a scientific principle as a contour or hachure map: the underlying science is not mathematics but physiography.

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If we regard the physiographic map as a systematic application of a set of symbols instead of a bird’s-eye view of a region, we do not violate cartographic principles even though the symbols are derived from oblique views instead of vertical views. It may be observed that our present swamp symbols are derived from a side view of water plants.

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Landform map symbols include: plains (sand & gravel, semiarid, grassland, savannah, forest, needle forest, forest swamp, swamp, tidal marsh, cultivated land), coastal plain, flood plain, alluvial fans, conoplain, cuesta land, plateau (subdued, young, dissected), folded mountains, dome mountains, block mountains, complex mountains (high, glaciated, medium, low, rejuvenated), peneplane, lava plateau (young, dissected), volcanoes, limestone region (with sinkholes, dissected, karst, tropical, mogotes), coral reefs, sand dunes, desert of gravel (serir), deflated stone surfaces (hamada), clay (takyr), loess region, glacial moraine, kames, drumlin region, fjords, glaciers, shoreline (sand, gravel, cliffed), and elevated shorelines & terraces.

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Quite a few years ago I wrote an overview article on the use of sound for representing geographic data, including a series of sound variables for mapping I developed. The article was titled “Sound and Geographic Visualization” and was published as a chapter in the now out-of-print book Visualization in Modern Cartography (MacEachren & Taylor eds., 1994).

Sound is used to convey information all the time, but less so in the realm of mapping where the visual dominates. The article explores the possibilities of making maps with sound, or using sound in tandem with a visual display to add additional layers of information.

Some work on tactile mapping had had occurred at the time the article was published, as well as a few dozen articles on sound for representing data in general (not geographic data). Subsequently, research on multi-sensory mapping has expanded but not as much as I expected. We still can’t hear data with Google Earth.

For an updated bibliography of related work, see the articles and books that cite “Sound and Geographic Visualization” at Google Scholar.

The article is below as originally published. It holds up ok, although technology has changed quite a bit.

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Denis Elder emailed me (Feb 6, 2012) and asked about the “manuscript videotape” cited in the paper below. The video was made to accompany my 1993 Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference presentation on using sound with maps. Back then, showing the examples (which were created with the software Director on a Mac) live at the conference would not have been easy, so I made a video of the maps being used (and making sounds). This presentation was an early form of the work that would be published as “Sound and Geographic Visualization.”

I managed to find the video and had our media center create a digital version (in Quicktime / .mov format).

The video and the notes for the presentation (“Mapping with Sound”) are below. This is old stuff, so don’t laugh!

“Mapping with Sound.” (PDF) Presented at the 1993 Association of American Geographers Conference, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Mapping with Sound.” (Quicktime Movie, 9 minutes, 84mb) to accompany paper. Explanation of this video is in the above PDF of the paper presented at the conference.

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Sound and Geographic Visualization

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Harry Warner on being confronted with the prospect of the sound movie.

Introduction

The issue of sound in the context of visualization may at first seem incongruous. There is, however, evidence to support the claim that sound is a viable means of representing and communicating information and can serve as a valuable addition to visual displays. Abstracted two-dimensional space and the visual variables – the traditional purview of cartography – may not always be adequate for meeting the visualization needs of geographers and other researchers interested in complex dynamic and multivariate phenomena. The current generation of computer hardware and software gives cartographers access to a broadened range of design options: three-dimensionality, time (animation), interactivity, and sound. Sound – used alone or in tandem with two-or three-dimensional abstract space, the visual variables, time, and interactivity – provides a means of expanding the representational repertoire of cartography and visualization.

This chapter discusses the use of realistic and abstract sound for geographic visualization applications. Examples of how and why sound may be useful are developed and discussed. Uses of sound in geographic visualization include sound as vocal narration, as a mimetic symbol, as a redundant variable, as a means of detecting anomalies, as a means of reducing visual distraction, as a cue to reordered data, as an alternative to visual patterns, as an alarm or monitor, as a means of adding non-visual data dimensions to interactive visual displays, and for representing locations in a sound space. The chapter concludes with research issues concerning sound and its use in geographic visualization.

Experiencing and Using Sound to Represent Data

Our sense of vision often seems much more dominant than our sense of hearing. Yet one only has to think about the everyday environment of sound surrounding us to realize that the sonic aspects of space have been undervalued in comparison to the visual (Ackerman 1990, Tuan 1993). Consider the experience of the visually impaired to appreciate the importance of sound and how it aids in understanding our environment. Also consider that human communication is primarily carried out via speech and that we commonly use audio cues in our day to day lives – from the honk of a car horn to the beep of a computer to the snarl of a angry dog as we approach it in the dark (Baecker and Buxton 1987).

There are several perspectives which can contribute to understanding the use of sound for representing data. Acoustic and psychological perspectives provide insights into the physiological and perceptual possibilities of hearing (Truax 1984, Handel 1989). An environmental or geographical perspective on sound can be used to examine our day to day experience with sound and to explore how such experiential sound can be applied to geographic visualization (Ohlson 1976, Schafer 1977, Schafer 1985, Porteous and Mastin 1985, Gaver 1988, Pocock 1989). Understanding how sound and music is used in non-western cultures may inform our understanding of communication with sound (Herzog 1945, Cowan 1948). Knowledge about music composition and perception provides a valuable perspective on the design and implementation of complicated, multivariate sound displays (Deutsch 1982). Many of these different perspectives have coalesced in the cross-disciplinary study of sound as a means of data representation, referred to as sonification, acoustic visualization, auditory display, and auditory data representation (Frysinger 1990). Within this context both realistic and abstract uses of sound are considered.

(more…)

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