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Archive for the ‘Deep Map Thoughts’ Category

Denis Wood’s followup to his classic The Power of Maps (1992) is almost entirely new in content.  I have included the book’s table of contents below. A PDF copy of chapter 1 is included. This chapter argues, provocatively, “there were no maps before 1500″ – a serious challenge to our assumptions about the map as a human and historical universal.

I. Mapping

1. Maps Blossom in the Springtime of the State (PDF)

2. Unleashing the Power of the Map

3. Signs in the Service of the State

4. Making Signs Talk to Each Other

II. Counter-Mapping

5. Counter-Mapping and the Death of Cartography

6. Talking Back to the Map

7. Map Art: Stripping the Mask from the Map

8. Mapmaking, Counter-Mapping, and Map Art in the Mapping of Palestine

Buy a copy of the book here…

From the publisher: “Denis Wood shows how maps are not impartial reference objects, but rather instruments of communication, persuasion, and power. By connecting us to a reality that could not exist in the absence of maps – a world of property lines and voting rights, taxation districts and enterprise zones – they embody and project the interests of their creators.”

Nicholas Chrisman, Department of Geomatic Sciences, Université Laval, says: “Rethinking the Power of Maps sharpens the argument of Wood’s earlier work and focuses its attention on the construction of power. Every student of cartography should take notice.”
Chris Perkins of the University of Manchester says: “In an age when mapping is sexy again Wood explains why it should matter to everyone, explores how maps came to be deployed by states, and how the authority of the image is now being used by many different voices. This is a carefully developed humanist argument for a critical approach to mapping, strongly academic, but reassuringly accessible. Denis Wood’s work always challenges – the passionate style and panache of his scholarship carries the reader along and persuades us to listen to his original ideas.”

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Lukewarm off the presses, a tome chock full of lofty thoughts on maps and mapping. The blurb about Rethinking Maps, edited by Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin, and Chris Perkins (Routledge 2009), sez:

Maps are changing. They have become important and fashionable once more. Rethinking Maps brings together leading researchers to explore how maps are being rethought, made and used, and what these changes mean for working cartographers, applied mapping research, and cartographic scholarship. It offers a contemporary assessment of the diverse forms that mapping now takes and, drawing upon a number of theoretic perspectives and disciplines, provides an insightful commentary on new ontological and epistemological thinking with respect to cartography.

A useful overview of what typically gets called “critical cartography,” with a few other voices of reason mixed in.

Denis Wood and I contributed a chapter, a comic with plentiful notes (for those who can’t figure out the pictures). I linked our chapter below, but it works much better as a printed comic.  I have about 10 paper copies, and can mail them to the first 10 people that email me (jbkrygier@owu.edu). Include a mailing address!

Debates rage, and tussles erupt, over the question…

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Serious enough, I guess, to be included in a tome of high academic scribblings.

The editors have made the introductory and concluding chapters available as PDFs. Those too are linked below.

The book is expensive ($129.95!) and sales will mostly be to libraries. Check a copy out of your favorite library (or ask for it via inter-library loan) or email the author of a chapter you are interested in and ask if they are willing to share a copy.

Chapters in Rethinking Maps include:

1. Thinking about Maps (360k PDF) (Rob Kitchin, Chris Perkins and Martin Dodge)

2. Rethinking Maps and Identity: Choropleths, Clines and Biopolitics (Jeremy W. Crampton)

3. Rethinking Maps from a more-than-human Perspective: Nature-society, Mapping, and Conservation Territories (Leila Harris and Helen Hazen)

4. Web mapping 2.0 (Georg Gartner)

5. Modelling the Earth: A Short History (Michael F. Goodchild)

6. Theirwork: the Development of Sustainable Mapping (Dominica Williamson and Emmet Connolly)

7. Cartographic Representation and the Construction of Lived Worlds: Understanding Cartographic Practice as Embodied Knowledge (Amy Propen)

8. The 39 Steps and the Mental Map of Classical Cinema (Tom Conley)

9. The Emotional Life of Maps and Other Visual Geographies (Jim Craine and Stuart Aitken)

10. Playing with Maps (Chris Perkins)

11. Ce n’est pas le Monde [This is not the world] (2mb PDF) (John Krygier and Denis Wood)

12. Mapping Modes, Methods and Moments: A Manifesto for Map Studies (556k PDF) (Martin Dodge, Chris Perkins and Rob Kitchin)

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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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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.

participatorymapping

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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.

fghm1 fghm2

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Some related resources:

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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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Holy crap!

What to do when one of the few iconic prehistoric maps isn’t a map?

The 6200 BC “map” of Çatalhöyük in Turkey, complete with erupting “volcano” in the background, prefaces many discussions of maps and mapping.  It is used to situate contemporary mapping as part of a long trajectory – “humans have always made maps.”

Alas, an important characteristic of any prehistoric “map” is that we can only speculate as to the intent of the creator. Yes we can look at some squiggly lines and say “hey, that looks like a map” but, of course, that depends on a modern sense of what a map is.  And, possibly, a tendency for us to see maps where there are none.

Indeed, many prehistoric “maps” may be the result of cartocacoethes – a mania, uncontrollable urge, compulsion or itch to see maps everywhere. Map simulacra like chipped paint: a stone China: a mud puddle Australia: and “geographic tongue:” - a medical condition that “looks like a map.”

See also the many prehistoric squiggles (below left) illustrated in Catherine Delano Smith’s “Cartography in the Prehistoric Period in the Old World” in Brian Harley and David Woodward’s The History of Cartography, Volume One (Chicago, 1987, pp. 54-101).

Part of me really wants these marks chipped in stone to be maps. But there does not seem to be much, if any, evidence that they are.

Why do we want mapping to stretch back into prehistory?  If maps didn’t exist in prehistory, and were scarce prior to 1500, does that somehow undermine the importance of contemporary maps and mapping? What drives this cartocacoethes?

The Çatalhöyük “map” provides a great case study of the perils of prehistoric map hunting.

The Çatalhöyük map was first brought to attention in a 1964 article entitled “Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, 1963, Third Preliminary Report” by James Mellaart (Anatolian Studies 14 (1964, pp. 39-119).

A map of the excavations (right) shows the area allegedly represented on the “map.”

Mellaart’s 1967 book Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia claimed that the Neolithic Anatolians at Çatalhöyük created the World’s first map, and fame for the map followed.

“The oldest town plan in existence” says Jeremy Harwood in To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps that Changed the World. “The oldest authenticated map in the world” says J.B. Harley in the UNESCO Courier. Of maps, it is, says Catherine Delano Smith in Imago Mundi, “the oldest known.”  “The Catal Huyuk map … is perhaps 2000 years older than the oldest known writing system and 4000 or more years older than the oldest known alphabetical writing system…” says James Blaut in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Heck, I even towed the party line in my introductory maps course lecture on the history of mapping.

Whoa, folks.

Archaeologist Stephanie Meece recently published an article in Anatolian Studies questioning the Çatalhöyük map’s status as a map.  The original “map” wall painting is shown below, in a photo from Mellaart’s 1964 article.  Most people have only seen the redrawing of the “map” with “volcano” (above) – not the original image.

In her article “A Bird’s Eye View – Of A Leopard’s Spots: The Çatalhöyük ‘Map’ and the Development of Cartographic Representation in Prehistory” (Anatolian Studies 56, 2006, pp. 1-16; full text here) Meece interrogates the claim that the particular wall painting found at Çatalhöyük is a map with erupting volcano in the background.  Meece writes (in an email exchange):

…one of the take-home messages of the article was to go beyond the tendency to identify the images in isolation, based on a personal recognition of similarity. I wanted to emphasise the need to understand the paintings in their contexts, as part of a generations-old, well developed cultural tradition; taking one image out of its context and pointing out its superficial resemblance to something else is a bane of archaeologists, and leads to von Daniken and his spaceships.

The “volcano” in the wall painting (below top; redrawing, bottom left) was originally interpreted by Mellaart as a leopard-skin costume, similar to other leopard skin images found at Çatalhöyük (bottom right). Meece writes:

In several later paintings, notably the large so-called hunting scenes, human figures are depicted wearing stiff ‘skirts’ and head coverings that are painted with simple dots. The skirts are conventionally depicted as two wide triangles connected at their base, with two sharp points.  They are twice as long as they are wide, and are filled in with dark-coloured dots, similar to the appearance of a stretched, prepared leopard skin.

The lower part of the wall painting, the “map,” does resemble the general layout of houses at Çatalhöyük, with storerooms surrounding a central room.  Nevertheless, claims Meece,

These geometric designs below the leopard skin are better understood as part of the very common (though their abundance is under-represented in the published discussions of the paintings at the site) tradition of painted panels, placed along the lower registers of house walls.  The ‘map’ pattern is entirely consistent with the standard range of motifs used in other buildings: a cell-like structure, repeated in horizontal lines, often with borders or frames enclosing each cell.



Meece examines an impressive array of evidence surrounding the painting and concludes

… looking closely at the wall painting, and situating it within the corpus of art objects at Çatalhöyük, it is clear that the original interpretation is much more likely to be the correct one.  The painting is unlikely to be a map of Çatalhöyük, but rather depicts a leopard skin in the upper register, and the lower section is one of the very typical geometric patterns commonly found at the site.

Oh well.

In a forthcoming article entitled “Maps” Denis Wood and I argue

… if prehistoric humans did make maps – which is doubtful – they were neither made often nor in very many places; they likely served broadly pictorial, religious, ritual, symbolic, and/or magical functions; and their production was discontinuous with the practice of mapmaking encountered in historic populations.

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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.
(more…)

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