Archive for the ‘Map Books’ Category

Three terrific new books on maps and mapping…

Review by Denis Wood

Linda Campbell, Andrew Newman, Sara Safransky, and Tim Stallman, eds., A People’s Atlas of Detroit (Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2020).

Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein. Data Feminism (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2020).

Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther. When Maps Become the World (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2020).

I read these three books in order, one after the other, with ever increasing pleasure. A Blacks’ atlas of Detroit, two women writing about data from a feminist perspective, a philosopher of science using “map thinking” to mull over everything from geodetic surveys to genetics – these books could have been deadly, a sure prescription for eyes glazed-over as the books slipped from my fingers to the floor. Instead: great interest, continuous surprises, and mounting satisfaction.

Reading about Detroit made me think about growing up in Cleveland. Cleveland was an exciting place to live in the 1940s and 1950s. Its Terminal Tower was the tallest building in the world (outside of New York). In 1946 George Szell began conducting its symphony and in 1948 the Indians won the World Series. Thousands worked in the city’s steel mills. It had a fabulous streetcar system. Walking down Euclid Avenue in those days was like walking down Fifth Avenue in New York, just that crowded and exciting. Forty years later, in the middle of the afternoon, I lay down in the middle of Euclid Avenue and had to wait four minutes before a car came along to honk me out of the way. The place was a desert. When I was growing up Cleveland was the seventh largest city in the US. It’s the 53rd now and it feels it. It’s shrunken. It’s had its guts ripped out of it.

Back in those days Detroit was the fifth largest city in the US. It was Motor City, where the cars came from and, soon enough, Motown where the songs came from. Detroit’s fall was like Cleveland’s, though if you believed what you read it was actually much, much worse. Unlike Cleveland, Detroit was always in the news. Its miles of deserted, flattened blocks became notorious. The city went bankrupt, and it was taken over by a state-imposed manager. He wanted to sell the paintings out of the art museum! The place was an unmitigated disaster. Reading this stuff you’d never believe that Detroit, with its 670,000 inhabitants, is still the 23rd largest city in the US, that Metro Detroit with its 4.3 million inhabitants is the nation’s fourteenth, or that the art museum with its 677,000 annual visitors is among the most visited in the world. That is, you’d never believe that rather than a horrifying wasteland, Detroit’s an exciting, a vibrant place to live, maybe especially for the Blacks who man (and woman!) the front lines of a fierce struggle against racism, revanchism, and capitalism. This struggle is the subject of A People’s Atlas of Detroit.

The book’s introduction clarifies what it means by “people’s” and “atlas”. Not an atlas of all the peoples of Detroit – an atlas of Detroit – the book’s a collection of texts and maps (there are nearly four dozen of these) that illuminates a moment in the struggle of Black Detroiters for their city; and although it was published in 2020, that moment was essentially 2012 when most of the interviews here were collected. Laid out in six chapters, their titles capture the book’s contents: “Detroit and the Long Struggle for Liberation,” “This Land is Ours: Toward a New Urban Commons,” “Growing a Revolution,” “Suspending Democracy Is Violence,” “Gentrification Is Only Part of It: Understanding Race and Displacement in Detroit,” and “The Right to the City.” Each of these runs to some fifty pages of maps but, mostly, texts, texts drawn from the people the book’s about.

Take Grace Lee Boggs and Sterling Toles who have a conversation at the end of the first chapter. Grace Lee, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, married the Alabama-born African-American and Chrysler auto worker, James Boggs, in 1953, and in 1974 these two activists and “fiercely independent intellectuals” published Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century which, still very much in print (along with the rest of their work), remains a key text for radical thinking. Toles, on the other hand, is “an illustrator, sound sculptor, DJ and music producer” who runs a recording studio out of his home. While you might imagine that Toles would be interviewing Boggs, it turns out to be the other way around, Boggs probing Toles about his work with the local kids who’d been censored at other studios: “My whole thing was, I wouldn’t censor them, but I would ask them why they felt what they felt. One of the premises that I really work on is that so much of this culture is about conduct, control, and behavior control as opposed to nourishment,” which leads into talk about “nurturing.” After James Boggs died, in 1993, the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership was founded, and “nurture” turns out to be a theme that that runs throughout A People’s Atlas of Detroit.

The whole book’s like this, insanely dense. Take the cover. While a piece of a street map fills the sky, otherwise the cover’s a photo of two Black kids walking down a street away from the camera. On the left Crocketts Groceries sells beer and wine. On the right a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire encloses a yard. If you look closely you can see in the distance that the street’s been closed off since, as a note on the back cover makes clear, the photo was taken at “Yusef Shakur’s twelfth annual backpack giveaway and neighborhood festival,” which explains the kids’ shiny new backpacks. Now, I rarely expect book covers to have much to do with the book. Usually they’re designed after the book’s on its way to the press, by a designer who may have only the sketchiest idea of its contents. So it was shock to come across, on page 293, in the introduction to Yusef “Bunchy” Shakur’s “Reclaiming Our Souls,” that Shakur’s coffee shop “is a community space that offers a public computer station, features local art, hosts poetry readings, and organizes an annual back-to-school backpack drive, which is featured on the cover of this book.” I mean, this almost never happens.

But then the whole book’s terrific, building smoothly to the cymbal crash of the concluding chapter, “The Right to the City,” where interviews are presented on the rights to water, to environmental justice, to mobility, to education, and to freedom from crime and police harassment, in each case examining situations in which these rights have been or are denied: the notorious water shutoffs; the serious perils of pollution, with a focus on the city’s incinerator; the problems stemming from the city’s fragmented transit systems; the school closures; and the impact of the city’s insane rates of incarceration. In each case solutions are advanced whereby Detroiters have or are reclaiming these rights, in the process reclaiming, as “Bunchy” Shakur puts it, “our souls.” It’s inspiring, but it’s also a mind-boggling amount of work, work Black Detroiters have embraced. That’s what’s really inspiring!

Data Feminism resources here

Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s Data Feminism is a whole different kettle of fish. A book by two feminist academics explaining why data science needs feminism, it would be hard to imagine anything further from A People’s Atlas of Detroit; and yet it’s animated by a similar spirit of defiant resistance, and it shares with the atlas a determined resolution to address the problems it identifies. These are laid out in seven chapters that follow a welcoming and incisive introduction, and again their titles neatly capture the book’s contents: “The Power Chapter,” “Collect, Analyze, Imagine, Teach,” “ On Rational, Scientific, Objective Viewpoints from Mythical, Imaginary Impossible Standpoints,” “What Gets Counted Counts,” “Unicorns, Janitors, Ninjas, Wizards, and Rock Stars,” “The Numbers Don’t Speak for Themselves,” and “Show Your Work.” An active principle, effectively a subtitle, interpret these: “Examine Power,” “Challenge Power,” “Elevate Emotion and Embodiment,” “Rethink Binaries and Hierarchies,” “Embrace Pluralism,” “Consider Context,” and “Make Labor Visible.”

Each subtitle is then further spelled out in an attached sentence. For example, “Challenge Power,” is followed by “Data Feminism commits to challenging unequal power structures and working toward justice.” This chapter opens with a comparison of the Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute’s map, Where Commuters Run Over Black Children on the Pointes-Downtown Track, with the Detroit Board of Commerce’s Residential Security Map. The first was made by a collaboration between young Black adults and white academics from local universities, while the second was made by white men collaborating with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, producing – to cut to the chase – a map of Detroit neighborhoods on which the Black neighborhoods appear in red. This 1939 map is an early instance of what became known as “redlining” maps, denying to most of those who lived within the red borders the ability to borrow money to buy a home. D’Ignazio and Klein compare these redlining maps to the way big data are fetishized today – as rational, scientific, and objective – where what is overlooked is the unequal power structures that underlie and dictate the character of the rational, scientific, and objective data used. In the redlining maps, that character was all about protecting and preserving home ownership as a way of accumulating wealth and power for whites. D’Ignazio and Klein contrast this data with the data underlying the Run Over Black Children map which, previously unavailable, had to be collected from the police (with no little effort), and then compiled and plotted by the young Blacks who lived in the community itself. A sharper example of a challenge to power working toward justice would be hard to imagine.

Each chapter opens with a similarly compelling example, and then proceeds to think through the issues raised, typically through further examples, before closing with another, equally compelling example. In the power chapter the concluding example arises out of an idea called “mathematics for spatial justice,” specifically from a project, Local Lotto, that unfolded in the Bronx. Local Lotto grounded the teaching of statistics and data collection in contexts of equity, specifically the question whether the New York state lottery was good or bad for the neighborhood. The students learned about statistics and data analysis, roamed the neighborhood to collect their data, analyzed it, and gave presentations to each other. Finally they created “a data-driven argument: an opinion piece supported with evidence from their statistical and spatial analyses, as well as their fieldwork.” Again, the challenge to power is in your face and, like so many of the rest of the projects in the book, it’s rich, detailed, many-layered and multi-stranded.

Organizing the book’s arguments is what sociologist Patricia Hill Collins calls “the matrix of domination,” a construct she uses to explain how systems of power are configured and experienced. Her matrix embraces four domains – law and policies; their enforcement; culture and media; and individual experiences of oppression – which D’Ignazio and Klein return to again and again, as in … the question of pocket sizes. Here the larger issue is classification systems, specifically “how race, gender, and class (among other things) intersect to enhance opportunities for some people and constrain opportunities for others.” The examples D’Ignazio and Klein deploy make it clear the the forces operating through the matrix of domination are “sneaky and diffuse”: here, for instance, women’s pants pockets are almost half as long as those for men (that is, they’re too small for a smartphone). Of course this has a history, and it’s one in which the matrix of domination plays a role again and again, and so this difference in pocket sizes leads into a discussion of gender, especially the gender binary, which leads to the issue of binaries in general, which is a big player in what gets counted. That is, binaries are a big constraint on what gets counted.

The example that opens the fifth chapter is San Francisco’s Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, exhibiting (among other things) how “partiality and contestation” can take place in graphical design, thereby upholding the fourth principle of data feminism: the embrace of pluralism. Constructively, this builds on the previous chapter’s dismay over the constraints of binaries, here expanded to a polemic against the cleansing and tidying to which datasets are regularly subjected in order to make them amenable to … well, to simple “yes” or “no” outcomes for what are immensely complicated public debates. As D’Ignazio and Klein conclude the chapter: “embracing pluralism is a feminist strategy for mitigating this risk. It allows both time and space for a range of participants to contribute their knowledge of a data project and to do so at all stages of that project.”

But what’s really great about this book is the way it practices what it preaches. When you reach the end of the text, you don’t reach the end of the book. Instead it continues for another ninety-nine pages, half again as long as the text itself. These open with “Our Values and Our Metrics for Holding Ourselves Accountable,” which opens with an historical note that in turn opens with an allusion to the “open peer review process” that took place online. Okay, that’s unusual enough, but it then proceeds to list their key values: intersectionality, equity, proximity, the humanity of data, reflexivity, transparency, accountability and positionality. As they say, legitimate knowledge “has a race and a gender, as well as a class and geographic location,” concluding that “values are not enough. We have to put those values into action and hold ourselves accountable again and again.” Therefore this section is followed by Isabel Carter’s “Auditing Data Feminism,” which explains how the audit, included in the previous section, was carried out.

After this come “Acknowledgment of Community Organizations,” describing the two organizations to which a portion of the royalties from Data Feminism have been redirected; and, then, detailed “Figure Credits,” sixty-six pages of notes, a name index, and a subject index. And these are some notes. Not your common citations, these are discursive and enriching, expanding the text in the valuable directions. These are notes you don’t mind flipping to the back to read because the content warrants the disruption, or rather the extension, because that’s what they do, they extend the arguments of the text. Footnotes to the redlining text, for example, expand on the way the tactic is still used to deny housing to Blacks, citing among many other cases the one brought in 2018 against Facebook by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for enabling discriminatory advertising by housing providers. At the same time they expanded on the way Gwendolyn Warren’s work on the Run Over Black Children map has been so often misattributed to Bill Bunge (by me among others).

No, this is a good book, meriting a very careful read.

Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 Universalis cosmographia. “This map is the first known visualization showing America as a separate continent, and naming it as such, in honor of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Waldseemüller’s map is known as the “birth certificate” of America.” Source

When Maps Become the World, by Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, demands a very careful read, if only to to keep up with the arguments, which are many, mutually-referencing, and continually compounding. Winther is a philosopher of science and this is straight-up philosophy of science. In fact his central thesis is “that science is an overarching mapping project of the world,” a thesis that more than justifies the four-chapter-long explication of what he calls “map-thinking.” “Map thinking,” says Winther, “refers to philosophical reflection concerning what maps are and how they are made and used,” where “philosophical reflection” is precisely that, reflection. But … philosophical reflection: “Map thinking massages the imagination; excavates hidden assumptions; challenges and synthesizes dualisms; and invites us to reflect on space and time – including the future.” This should make plain that When Maps Become the World is discursive, which means, as Merriam-Webster confirms, that it’s: “marked by a method of resolving complex expressions into simpler or more basic ones: marked by analytical reasoning.”

Here the complex expression is “map thinking” and the simpler or more basic things into which it’s resolved include: eight map analogies (e.g., “A scientific theory is a map of the world”), assumption archeology, an abstraction-ontologizing account, partitioning frames, pernicious reification, contextual objectivity with its integration platform, and a multiple representations account. Each of these is in turn resolved into similarly simpler parts, as in the multiple representations account getting thought through ontologizing, merely-seeing-as, and pluralistic ontologizing. Here ontologizing is said to occur “when an individual takes the internal world of a map or scientific representation to really be the world it intends to represent.” In contrast, when merely-seeing-as, a user “comprehends that the content of the map, model, or theory is one limited way of viewing, and acting, in the world.” We’re said to be pluralistically ontologizing when we “communally, deliberately, and mindfully respect multiple representations,” including those unfamiliar or taken-for-granted.

Ontologizing, merely-seeing-as, and pluralistic ontologizing amount to three different postures that can be taken with respect to existence. For example, the ontologist who has grown up with the Mercator projection alone may be inclined to believe Greenland is about the size of Africa, whereas Africa is actually fourteen times the size of Greenland. One who merely-sees-as understands there are other ways to see the world: for example, that offered by the Gall-Peters projection which, while it does show things in their true sizes does not, as does the Mercator, show them in their true shapes. A pluralistic ontologist understands that there are more ways to think about the world than you can squeeze onto a projection, and opens him- or herself up to wholly other world views, ancient, anthropological, or just plain loony (like most contemporary flat-earth apostles). In another domain, Galen’s humoral theory explained disease as an imbalance of the humors. Long and widely ontologized in the West, in the later nineteenth century humoral theory was forced to compete with the then new germ theory of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, after which this became, well, the world. Today germ theory is merely-seen-as the explanation for most diseases, dominantly in our age of the coronavirus, but more pluralistic ontologists understand that illness can have many causes, viruses and bacteria, but also radiation and lead poisoning, nutritional deficiencies, stress, and so on.

Maps become the world when either literal maps or scientific theories get mistaken for the world, foreclosing alternatives. Maps like these lurk behind phrases like, “It’s hard to imagine but people used to believe …” before the unfolding of alternative, typically “old-fashioned” views, like that of a flat earth (now spherical), or those with the earth in the center of the universe (which is now at the edge of a minor galaxy), or the one in which ice, water, and steam were different substances (whereas today they’re different phases of a common substance), or that in which different “races” were all but different species (which today are non-existent), or that of the earth without plate tectonics. I grew up in that one, with geologists teaching me geosynclinal theory and making fun of “this plate-tectonic nonsense” which, of course, today is … the world.

Having laid out this way of thinking about the world, with its pernicious reification and contextual objectivity, Winther applies it to science to show it in action, that is, to sciences, since When Maps Become the World takes on no fewer than eight of them. Naturally he starts with the universe which naturally he begins with the Big Bang. Here we begin with the cosmic microwave background map, of the universe shortly after its birth. Winther contrasts this with the map of the current universe created by Margaret Geller and associates in 1977, or at least with the positions of a thousand of its galaxies. Finally Wither turns to the more recent three-dimensional maps of galactic motion, of Hélene Courtois, R. Brent Tully and their team, which track the motions of hundreds of thousands of galaxies. Winther takes this as an opportunity to review his abstraction-ontologizing account with its complicated problems of the calibration of cosmic distances, the collection and management of cosmological data, and their generalization into extreme space maps.

Next he drops his gaze to the earth where, with conventionally scaled geologic mapping, he traces the history and state of plate tectonics; before freaking out with state-space maps in physics and physical chemistry (also known as phase diagrams). Finally he considers analogous maps in mathematics where we not only consider mathematical mappings but the literal cartography of the great German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, work that through his student Bernhard Riemann’s work on manifolds underwrites all of twentieth century physics. It’s all space and time – Winther makes that case convincingly – and so all this can be thought through the lens of map thinking quite easily.

This proves no less true of the examples in the following chapter where Winther emphasizes the importance of assumption archeology and the power of countermapping. Here he’s tackling our mapping of ourselves: migration mapping, brain mapping, and statistical causal mapping. He opens with the abstractive-averaging assumptions so common under maps of migration, tracing these through the work of Ernst Ravenstein, Waldo Tobler and others. These he counters with, for example, the migrant death mapping of Humane Borders/Fronteras Compasivas; and with the mapping of Tunisian migration by Robby Habans for the Spaces in Migration project of Martina Tazzioli and colleagues. Both of these radically resist the abstractive-averaging assumptions of “mainstream” migration mapping. Winther explores brain mapping the same way, a tour through decompositional assumptions, phrenological maps, and the somatosensory and motor homunculi being followed by the countermaps of Russell Poldrack and Michael Anderson, namely, cognitive ontologies and functional fingerprints. The path diagrams of statistical causal maps get countered by Eric Turkheimer and Helen Longino’s doubts about the utility of the whole approach, opening questions about, for example, the very possibility of decomposing the statistical interactions into the individual behaviors of the interacting individuals, and so asking: what’s being explained?

In his final science chapter Winther turns to genetics (the subject of his forthcoming book), to look at seven genetic maps, integrating them into a paradigmatic integration platform on which he notes each map’s genetic type, its partitioning frame, its space and time frames, and its map type. Take the linear genetic map. Its partitioning frame features morphological character, chromosome bands and nucleotides in chromosomal and nucleotide space in the time that a crossover takes in a germ cell. It’s an extreme-scale map. In contrast the literal genetic map partitions the domain into genes and their relevant geographic regions in geographic space and evolutionary time. It’s a literal geographic map. There’s lots more, some of it completely abstract (the adaptive landscape, for instance). The last chapter embeds all of this, and the seven previous chapters, into the philosophy of science, concluding with an invitation to dream. I think it’s safe to say that the book ends on a high …

It’s only three-hundred pages but When Maps Become the World is a lot of book with a lot of thought-provoking propositions about life and how to live it. Masquerading as a book about maps and science, it’s a manual on how to be in the world, a manual on how to live. Just as D’Ignazio and Klein’s Data Feminism turns out to be a manual on how to write a book (to say nothing of how to deal with data), and A People’s Atlas of Detroit turns out to be a manual on how to stake a claim to a place. They’re all terrific books with claims on our attention far beyond what you’d imagine they might have to offer. Read ‘em!

Read Full Post »

Matthew H. Edney. Cartography. The Ideal and Its History. xiii + 309 pp., figs., bibl., index. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019. $30.00 (paper), ISBN 9780226605685.

Matthew Edney @ USM

Matthew Edney @ Mapping As Process

Google Books Book Information

University of Chicago Press Book Information

Amazon Book Information

Book Review by John Krygier published in Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society—Volume 111, Number 1, March 2020 (pp. 207-208)

There is no such thing as cartography, and this is a book about it. (p. 1)

Matthew Edney’s Cartography: The Ideal and its History provides a necessary corrective to the normative ideal of maps, mapping and the field of cartography. While of interest to scholars in the history of cartography, Edney’s book is just as important to the growing number of scholars whose research engages maps and mapping as part of diverse studies of culture, society and human history. Cartography: The Ideal and its History details problematic assumptions about maps, mapping and cartography, but it’s the creative potential of Edney’s book that’s most notable. As untenable assumptions are discarded, new insights emerge, insights which have the potential to greatly expand our understanding of maps and mapping across many different studies and disciplines.

Edney’s Cartography is situated in the intermingled fields of the history of cartography and critical cartography with touchstones including The History of Cartography, Book 1, edited by J.B. Harley and David Woodward (1987), Harley’s “Deconstructing the Map” (1989) and Denis Wood’s The Power of Maps (1992). These works, and many that followed, undermined narrow definitions of the map and broadened our understanding of the cultural, social and political context of mapping. Edney’s work as editor of later volumes of the History of Cartography, extensive publications on maps from Europe, North America and India as well as critical cartography make him an ideal scholar to take on the ideal of cartography. He does so by characterizing the traditional study of maps and mapping as “a profound act of cultural misdirection.” Maps and mapping are more complex, nuanced and disjunct than the universalizing, idealized conceptions offered by modern cartography, a thesis strongly supported by Edney’s immersion in diverse historical maps and mapping practices.

The most appealing parts of Cartography: The Ideal and its History are the delineation of fourteen modes of Western mapping and an intellectual assault on cartography’s idealized preconceptions. These issues are addressed in the first third of the book, prefaced by a discussion of the ideal and its limitations. Mapping modes include place, urban, property, engineering, chorographical, cosmographical, geographical, marine, celestial, boundary, geodetic, analytic, and overhead imaging. The concept of modes shifts focus away from a singular, idealized map (and map making process) to distinct (but evolving and interrelated) map types and processes that are better understood free of the narrow, idealized context within which they are typically situated. Cartography’s idealized preconceptions include ontology, pictorialness, individuality, materiality, observation, efficacy, discipline, publicity, morality and singularity & universality. In each case, Edney describes, critiques, and offers alternatives to these preconceptions. With the concept of mapping modes and critique of preconceptions in place, an intellectually sophisticated, nuanced and creative understanding of maps and mapping processes can play out.

Chapter 4, The Ideal of Cartography, details the construction of cartography as “a modern myth.” The chapter weaves in references to mapping modes and idealized preconceptions. One is left, upon finishing this chapter, with a history of the construction of modern cartography as well as an understanding of its limitations. Chapter 5 critiques the idealized geometry at the heart of modern cartography, specifically map scale. Much like maps and cartography in general, it is easy to naturalize map scale. This chapter, like the rest of the book, brings a sense of unease: many seemingly natural aspects of our common understanding of cartography are carefully constructed myths.

Cartography: The Ideal and its History is scholarly, well-written and a significant contribution to the history of science. It covers some ground explored by other recent scholars (including Matthew Wilson’s 2017 New Lines) but with a stronger footing in historical scholarship. Edney’s mapping modes and idealized preconceptions provide actionable ideas which are often lacking in critical cartography literature. It’s not clear, however, if Edney’s work will have much of an impact on modern mapping practitioners (cartography, geographic information systems, Geospatial technology) or academics in these technical fields. The myth of cartography is, if anything, functional and serves the needs of particular people and groups (property ownership, the military, government bureaucracy, business, etc.). Online mapping and navigational tools, such as Google Maps, are rife with problems (such as the inclusion of fake businesses that generate income for Google and for companies who pay to have these businesses on the map). Alas, people find such services useful and don’t really think the maps and information they engage with are anything other than an image of the real world. At the very least, scholars should not fall into the same trap: Matthew Edney’s Cartography: The Ideal and its History provides a corrective, a reimagined intellectual framework for maps and mapping that will, when engaged and operationalized, greatly broaden our understanding of the wondrous array of inscriptions and practices we call maps and mapping.

John Krygier

Professor of Geography
Ohio Wesleyan University

Delaware, OH. 43015


Read Full Post »


Review by Denis Wood of
Katherine Marsh. Nowhere Boy (Roaring Brook, New York, 2018)
Glenda Garelli, Federica Sossi & Martina Tazzioli. Spaces in Migration: Postcards of a Revolution (Pavement Books, London, 2013).
James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti. Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics (Norton, New York, 2017)

Where? Nowhere

One of them doesn’t exist.

What could that mean, doesn’t exist? Clearly he exists. He has flesh. He has bones. What he doesn’t have are … papers. Which is another way of saying … any rights. No rights. This is to say that spatially he has no right to exist where he does. Where he does? What could that possibly mean? Where else except where he is could he exist?

Well, nowhere, obviously. So this must mean something else. But it’s hard to say what. The boy we’re talking about is Syrian, which is to say that he was born in Syria and until recently lived there. Now he’s in Brussels, in the corner of a basement in a house whose other inhabitants don’t know he’s there. He comes out at night to filch a little food but is very quiet because if they knew he was there they’d turn him over to the authorities who would lock him up. Or send him back to Syria which he’d fled because of the war there. He had the right to be in Syria, but no way to be in Syria. He has a way to be in Brussels, but no right to be there.

Rights don’t seem to be very strongly connected to the way things are, to the actual state of things.

Rights are permissions granted to people by others. To say that the boy – his name is Ahmed – had no right to exist in Brussels is to say that those around him hadn’t given him permission to exist there. Well, this isn’t quite right either. Max had. Max was another boy living in the house, one who did exist, who did have a right to be there. A partial right. His family had moved there from Washington when his father was posted to Brussels. Max finds, he ferrets out Ahmed in the basement. The two become friends and Max abets Ahmed’s secret life in the house.

Fig 1 Nowhere Boy cover

The boys are characters in Katherine Marsh’s Nowhere Boy (Roaring Brook, New York, 2018), a young adult novel about the refugees coming to Europe, these days through the desert and across the seas. Those fleeing to Europe are fleeing war and destitution and tend to be Muslim, which is pretty stigmatized in Europe. These people are not wanted, even in countries that desperately need their labor, like Hungary. Ironically Ahmed and Max end up in Hungary, in Kiskunhalas, near its border with Serbia, where Ahmed’s father is in detention. It’s a young adult novel, so it ends well. But until it does, Ahmed “didn’t want to go anywhere anymore. He felt safer being nowhere.”

Which is what not existing means: it means being nowhere.

Being nowhere means you can’t be plotted to a map. Not existing, being nowhere, and being unmappable are all vaguely synonymous. Of course they’re abstractions. One flesh and blood body can annihilate them all. Which is what Ahmed’s body did, violated the abstractions, rendering him existent, there, and mappable. This is also what the Tunisians from Lampedusa in Paris did when they occupied 51 Avenue Simon Bolivar, hanging out a banner that read, “Ni police, ni charité. Un lieu pour s’organiser.” Which is to say, “No police, no charity. A place where we can organize.” A place. They wanted a place which, nowhere, nonexistent and unmappable, they didn’t, they couldn’t have. What they had, two days later, were police, plenty of them, who forced them back onto the streets and so rendered them, once more, nonexistent, nowhere, and unmappable.

Fig 2 Spaces in Migration cover

These were the harraga, “those who burn.” Meaning both “young people who ‘burn’ frontiers as they migrate across the Mediterranean sea and those who are ready to burn their documents (but also their pasts and eventually their lives).” The words are those of Paola Gandolfi from her “Spaces in Migration” in Glenda Garelli, Federica Sossi and Martina Tazzioli’s Spaces in Migration: Postcards of a Revolution (Pavement Books, London, 2013). “Spaces in migration” is an ambiguous phrase, implying both spaces moving in the process of migration (for example, the spaces moving with the migrants’ bodies) but also the spaces emerging in the process of migration (like 51 Avenue Simon Bolivar, like the detention facilities on Lampedusa). Either, or both of these taken along with the burning of frontiers and the burning of documents can melt the solidities, the certainties, of the contemporary system of nation-states.

Which are, after all, bounded places (states) with a population that is more or less culturally coherent (nations). There may be no true nation-states these days, given the bewildering range of peoples that live in even the smallest of them (Abkhazia, for example), but there are states galore, with ever more jealously guarded borders.

When these are “burned” by harraga it’s as though a body were being wounded, anything might get in, there would be no integrity, the body could come apart. So when the Tunisians started crossing the Mediterranean for France and reached Lampedusa, a minute island midway between Sfax, in Tunisia, and Malta, from which, thanks to a permit granted by the Italians, they were able to travel freely through the Schengen Area, you’d think the whole African continent was attempting to pour into Europe. The few thousand who initially reached Lampedusa, well, Lampedusa is small. It’s not eight square miles. But still, the first few thousands that arrived immediately aroused a language of Biblical proportions, of natural disasters: plagues, floods, tsunamis, simply overwhelming numbers which, in fact, didn’t amount to single thousandth of a single percent of the even the Italian population. Even in August when the number did reach fifty thousand it was still inconceivably small.

You’d think a dagger was being driven into the Italian, into the French heart.

The French closed its border with Italy. There was no way they were letting all these Tunisians into la patrie, despite their own earlier colonization of Tunisia. The French into Tunisia? Certainly. (And they didn’t give it up until 1956). But Tunisians into France? Unthinkable! To say nothing of the Libyans, who with their numbers soon revealed how few the Tunisians had been, the Eritreans, the Senegalese, the Syrians … All barely existent nowhere people on the move …

Fig 3 Spaces in Migration MAP

The map here may confuse some people. For one thing, north is to the left of the map. For another we’re not used to seeing this piece of the Mediterranean, turned this way, at this scale. Tunisia is in the lower right. That’s Libya above it. Lampedusa is the dot from which the items labeled 9 and 10, among others, are emanating. Paris is indicated by 12. Be that as it may, it’s astonishing how tight everything is, how close, how these two continents so firmly separated by Mohammed and Charlemagne almost kiss, even here in the middle of the sea. Lampedusa has kin, Linosa and Lampione. You can even see Tunisia from Pantelleria (it’s only 37 miles away). Despite this the rhetorical distance separating Europe and Africa remains all but uncrossable.

For the undocumented burning their way across it is crossable, but only as long as they remain nonexistent, nowhere, and unmappable. The problem is, “You start to get hungry, you smell and you only have one pair of jeans to wear. You never take your shoes off and your feet hurt. You call home, not too often, to let them know you are still alive but you do not speak of your insistence on space, and sometimes you start to think about returning. You even go as far as to insist on consulate offices to try to work out how to get home. But you burnt a border when you left on a boat, one that won’t allow you to burn it again on the return journey.” This comes from Garelli, Sossi, and Tazzioli’s “Postcards of a Revolution,” the conclusion to their book (it’s also online here). This is as close as you can get to despairing without actually giving up.

Fig 4 where the animals go cover

Placeless: often this is to say on the move, and since in motion, unmappable, wherever they may happen to be. It’s hard to map things in motion. All the ways we’ve developed are workarounds. Some of the best of these are captured in the recent book, Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics (Norton, New York, 2017) by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti. Like Ahmed in Brussels, like the Tunisians in Paris, animals too are undocumented, and like Ahmed and the Tunisians they too burn borders without hesitation. If they’re even aware of them.

Select maps from our new book, Where The Animals Go

Take Slavc, a young wolf from the mountains on the Croatian-Slovenian border. He left his maternal pack and struck out on his own, crossing motorways and major rivers, navigating the Dolomites in the middle of winter and the suburbs of Verona; moving from the Dinaric Alps, across the Drava into the Alps, and so from Slovenia into Austria, and into and through the Dolomites, which is to say into Italy, before settling in the upper plateau of Monte Lessini. Slavc leaves Croatia, crosses Slovenia and Austria, and slips into Italy, all without so much as a by-your-leave from a single border agent. Of course he’s not a human so … who cares?

That he’s visible at all is because he’d been radio collared by a University of Ljubljana conservationist who tracked his GPS transmissions. The collar sent about seven locations a day, allowing Hubert Potočnik to interpolate the rest of Slavc’s movements. Mostly he moved at night, more like Ahmed than the Tunisians. He didn’t kill a domestic animal until he reached the outskirts of Verona, so if he hadn’t been radio collared he would have been completely invisible.

The carnivore at the top of the food chain is less easily hidden and, when seen, needs to be able to exhibit papers. The simmering European refugee “crisis” has led to an armoring of border and after border, including the one in the Dinarics that Slavc crossed between Croatia and Slovenia. The Dinarics are home to many animals that now move freely across the Slovenian and Croatian border, wolves, obviously, but also, among the collared, lynx and bears. The borders that impede the movement of Syrians and Eritreans also impede and usually preclude the movement of all the larger mammals. Impenetrable barriers are horrifying intrusions into their lives and genetically disastrous.

But what is this terror of the mobile? Only that it implies the fragility of the police states into which most modern states have evolved. Is there any that lacks its apparatus of control, its mechanisms for identifying, tracking, apprehending and expelling any it stigmatizes as unwelcome? It has less success with wolves, with storks, with whales but only because, inhuman, they’re less subject to scrutiny. As we have seen this has its downside: unintended control by barriers meant for humans. How many animals moving back and forth across the US-Mexico border will be trapped on one side or the other by Trump’s wall? How many will have their ranges severed? How many will be separated from their families?

I think it’s easy enough to answer, “Enough, enough will be separated from their families,” just as Ahmed was separated from his, as the Tunisians were separated from theirs, as animals around the world are separated from theirs.

Why do we even care where any of these are?

Isn’t it enough to know where we are? And when you stop to think about it, isn’t that hard enough?

Read Full Post »

Denis Wood’s delightfully snarky review of a new book, The Power of Maps, but not The Power of Maps he wrote in 1992. The review provides a critique of participatory mapping and GIS from the perspective of critical cartography that has developed over the past several decades.



Review: The Power of Maps: Bringing the Third Dimension to the Negotiation Table

C. Pedrick (editor)

Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)

Order book or free PDF here.

by Denis Wood

Interesting title, The Power of Maps. Once I wrote a book called The Power of Maps (Guilford, New York, 1992), but that was then and this book was just published. My book was about how maps, instead of being objective and neutral, were interested, and about how hard maps labored to mask this interest. In the end it was about maps as malign instruments that hid their commitment to advancing the interests of those who commissioned them.

CTA’s The Power of Maps is one of these masks.

Or maybe I shouldn’t put it that way. That may be too harsh, too sweeping. But, my god, just take a look at the cover! In the upper right is the boxed phrase, “Success Stories,” letting us know right off that we’re in for some kind of fluff. Below, bracketing the title, are photos of a landscape and of a bunch of kids clustered excitedly around a three-dimensional model of it, or at least we assume the model’s of the pictured landscape (we hope it is): it’s never stated. The kids, a diversity of ages, are proud, and as we later learn, they should be, since presumably these are the kids who made the model. “Bringing the third dimension to the negotiation table,” says the subtitle, though these kids don’t look like they’re negotiating anything and, as it turns out, they’re not.

All sorts of prefatory fluff precede twelve stories with titles like “Mapping in Madagascar – from skepticism to ownership” and “Scaling up P3DM: A powerful community engagement tool.” The exciting titles are unfolded in exciting texts. Wonderful things happen when participatory 3D models are constructed. Generations come together (since the youth build the model which “the elders” interpret), people who have trouble with maps move over the model with ease (as we can see in the photos), government officials are impressed (evidently), and soon … everybody’s negotiating, they’re taking their future into their own hands, they’re triggering green lights for environmental restoration.

In these stories it’s almost magical the ways these things happen. The kids just build the model; the elders cluster around it annotating it with colors, yarn, pushpins; the officials just show up. In better than three dozen full-color photos, kids happily work, elders eagerly collaborate, attentive outsiders look and listen. P3DM really is magical! It really works!

That this a profound illusion The Power of Maps reveals only in its list of further readings on page 67 (the whole document runs only 74 pages). The first item, Giacomo Rambaldi’s Participatory Three-dimensional Modeling: Guiding Principles and Applications: 2010 edition runs 98 pages, each crammed with facts, figures, diagrams and tasks, tasks, tasks. There’s a lot to do before the locals can start making their model, and lots of outsiders are going to work to get it done. To begin with:

Organizing and facilitating a P3DM exercise requires a multidisciplinary team with at least three facilitators covering – as an example – the following disciplines: geography/cartography/GIS; natural resource management/environment; and social sciences. (p. 52)


Logistical aspects vary from project to project. The more complex the initiative the more demanding are the logistical arrangements. All projects, whether they involve single or multiple communities and ethnic groups scattered over a large area, must handle logistical details for field activities, workshop venues, travel, accommodation and catering for community members and technical staff. Other matters to be arranged include contracts for a venue sufficiently large and possibly with electric power to allow the manufacture of the model, board and lodging, equipment rental or purchase and procurement and safe storage of supplies including the base maps. Additional staff may be hired and vehicles made available – in short, a variety of logistical arrangements are required for the project to run smoothly. All of these arrangements must be made in a timely fashion, and many must be in place during the earliest stages of the project and before project activities get underway. (p. 31)

That’s my emphasis, but there are lots of people from the outside who are going to be involved, and it all has to be paid for (materials for the model alone will run about a thousand bucks), there are salaries, and so there are sponsoring agencies and so on (and so on). While there’s a philosophical inclination to insist that these projects are “demand driven” – by the locals – it’s plain enough that they’re instigated by the agencies funding the work and so they’re in pursuit of agency goals.

Further along in the further-readings is CTA’s “Training kit on participatory spatial information management and communication” (2010). This consists of fifteen modules, most of which contains four units, none of which takes less than an hour, which is to say we’re talking about a commitment of more than 60 hours, and that’s without all the stuff they ask you to download and read or watch. Working through this training kit demands a serious chunk of time and energy. But, then, the whole thing does. The least of it is the construction and interpretation of the model, since once that’s done the whole thing has to be turned into a GIS, and maps have to be made. Maps, as my Power of Maps made plain, will be the tools used to implement any action, which since these are more or less all government projects, pretty much goes without saying. The 3D models are really about securing buy in, consensus, on the part of the locals.

I’ve critiqued participatory mapping before, in the keynote, “Public? Participation? Geographic? Information? Systems?” that I gave to the 2005 URISA Conference on PPGIS in Cleveland. The title should make the nature of my complaint clear enough. At the time I was unaware of Bill Cooke and Uma Kotiiari’s Participation: the New Tyranny? (Zed Books, London 2001) which examines many of my complaints in piercing detail; and I certainly didn’t know of Cooke’s “Rules of thumb for participatory change agents” (from Samuel Hickey and Giles Mohan’s Participation – From Tyranny to Transformation?, Zed Books, London, 2004), the first of which is, “Don’t work for the World Bank,” which naturally enough turns out to have funded “Mapping in Madagascar – from skepticism to ownership.” In fact, most of the projects laid out in The Power of Maps violate most of Cooke’s rules. One of these, “Data belong to those from whom they were taken,” includes “The use of photographs of participants in presentations and publications without their consent, informed or otherwise.” Again, nearly every one of the better than four dozen photos in The Power of Maps consists of photos of the people, the kids, the adults, the “elders” and, far more rarely, the government and NGO folk involved. Can you imagine the photographer of the image on the cover scurrying around to solicit the permission of each of the 23 caught? (Why bother? They’re mostly kids.) Under the same rubric Cooke mentions the use of material gathered in one capacity, as a participatory change agent, in another, for example as an academic in a journal, again without permission. Further he notes the public disclosure of information, in conferences or faculty staff rooms, again without permission, and contrasts this with the censure that would clobber people working with First World clients (therapists, for example).

There are others – the skewed rates of pay offered locals, government employees, and consultant academics – but to work through the list would be too disheartening. Worst of all is the way this – all this! – and more is obscured in The Power of Maps behind a curtain that could conceal an Oz. It’s this above all else that raises my ire, who tried to expose precisely this kind of deceit in a book whose title probably should have been The Real Power of Maps. Worst did I say? No, that’s actually not the worst of it. The worst of it is the startling lack of evidence that all this cardboard and plaster and paint and yarn has paid off in significant benefits for the locals, who end up no more than exposing their local knowledge to outsiders whose ultimate goal is buy in from the locals.

Okay, I’m carping from way outside, and by no means want to castigate all the work accomplished with P3DM which is often a huge improvement, if nothing else, over the options. And maybe it’s just their use of my title, over which of course I have no title. But there’s something about this self-congratulatory volume that sticks in my craw. Why couldn’t they have called it, The Power of 3D Models or The Use of 3D Models? Or better yet Preparing the Ground for Capitalism?

Read Full Post »


Denis Wood’s Everything Sings atlas in Korean via Your Mind.

propaganda_press_evthss_003_shop1_162248 propaganda_press_evthss_004_shop1_162248 propaganda_press_evthss_005_shop1_162249 propaganda_press_evthss_006_shop1_162249


What follows is the Google translation of the book description (from the Korean on this page). It captures, I am sure you will agree, some of what is special about the Atlas:

Everything Song: The Story of a map

Dennis Wood

Maverick academics and innovators of the American Geographical Dennis Wood is the North Carolina depicting a small town seem to run Heights creative guidance of various forms book.

How to create a map that Dennis Wood is unique unprecedented. He move, coming to North Carolina, he lived in a small town look run Heights overturns the traditional concept of cartography, and explore new perspective on the nature of this particular place and place itself. Each map is unseen, no one will pay attention not do, Turn your eyes to seem trivial. From radio waves to penetrate into the air until released by Hal reowin pumpkin on the porch, he made maps, nor have never let the fact that we did not know at things simply can not make such a map will find insights.

He most important thing is a map of the place of experience. In pursuit of poetry and ‘useless’ knowledge, this noble jimyeo year, aims to reproduce the sound of the world. We must appreciate and admire the beauty of the city map (詩) wrote to me at a map and start a new neighborhood, undergoes a change in the perception of how to read the map and the map in the process. So this book is about a neighborhood, and we piled the story of his gyeopgyeop about going out there trying to calm the place called ‘my neighborhood’ la.

We are looking to buy a new area, and in the effort to find a variety of means is happening in Korea. By exploring new geographic area to another time trying to cache the truth is hidden in the epidermis and the realities of the region. “Everything Song: Map of talking” is the one piece of creative map showing the iconic Atlas do not change the perception of the place.


Read Full Post »


This Atlas is more than an attempt to describe Cuba. Our aim is not only to present the setting in which the drama of Cuban life is played but to show how this life itself changes its own setting, creating new problems and new adjustments to them.

This dynamic element is usually absent from the impersonal atlases produced by governments, societies and publishing houses, which merely give a graphic report of a given moment of time. Our objective is to give a living picture of Cuban geography as far as possible in 64 pages. Our approach is as follows: 1. What are the facts?, 2. What are the essential problems?, 3. What will be their effects in the future and what may be done about them? For instance, Cuba, by reason of its close proximity to the United States become its chief source of tropical products, especially sugar. Thus the Cuban economy has become dependent on the fluctuating sugar demand, whereas a diversification of crops and industries would be advisable.

We have presented the results of our labor in graphical form. An old Chinese proverb says: “A picture says more than a thousand words.” Moreover by visual representation the most complicated problems may be brought within the understanding of the layman. Everyone should know the geography of his own country, and in the case of Cuba this need is imperative, since few countries have such clear-cut dependence on location, climate and soil Cuba’s internal problems of adjustment and interdependence with the rest of the world demand a high degree of understanding from its citizens.

– from Introduction


In addition to many dozens of unique landform maps, Erwin Raisz produced three atlases in his lifetime, including the Atlas of Global Geography (Global Press Corp., 1944), the Atlas de Cuba (Harvard University Press, 1949) and the Atlas of Florida (University of Florida Press, 1964). Copies of the Global and Florida atlases are relatively easy to find (used or in libraries); this is not the case with the Cuba atlas, which seems to have had a relatively low print run. A series of maps, diagrams and illustrations from the Cuba atlas are included below.

The Atlas de Cuba strongly reflects Raisz’s aesthetic, combining creative illustration with his bold and cozy aesthetic of map design. Part of the appeal of Raisz’s work is its humane feel, reflecting the manual mapping tools used to create his maps. Raisz’s maps and illustrations clearly reveal the hand of a human creator.

A large format map, included in the back of the Atlas de Cuba, will be the subject of a subsequent post.

See also, at this blog, Raisz’s History of American Cartography TimelinesMap Symbols: Landforms & Terrain, and Raisz’s currently available landform maps at www.raiszmaps.com.


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p05_worldaroundcuba_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p05_worldaroundcuba

El Mundo Alrededor de Cuba | The World Around Cuba (Excerpt & entire p. 5)



Cuba Colonial | Colonial Cuba (excerpt, p. 9)




Ciclones | Cyclones (excerpt & entire p. 14)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p18-19_geol_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p18-19_geol

Geologia | Geology (excerpt & entire pp. 18-19)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p20-21_geomorph_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p20-21_geomorph

Geomorfologia | Geomorphology (excerpt & entire pp. 20-21)



Pesca | Fish (excerpt, p. 25)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p26-27_veg_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p26-27_veg

Vegetacion | Vegetation (excerpt & entire pp. 26-27)



Poblacion | Population (excerpt, p. 29)



Composition Social | Social Composition (excerpt, p. 35)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p38-39_tourism_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p38-39_tourism

Tourismo | Tourism (excerpt & entire pp. 38-39)



Educacion | Education (excerpt, p. 40)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p42-43_agriculture_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p42-43_agriculture_close2 raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p42-43_agriculture

Agricultura | Agriculture (excerpts & entire pp. 42-43)



Azucar | Sugar (excerpt, p. 44)


raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p46-47_mining_close raisz_atlas_of_cuba_p46-47_mining

Minerales | Minerals (excerpt & entire pp. 46-47)



Tabaco | Tobacco (excerpt, p. 49)



Frutas | Fruit (excerpt, p. 51)


Atlas de Cuba

Garardo Canet & Erwin Raisz

Harvard University Press


Read Full Post »


The revised and expanded second edition of Denis Wood’s Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, is due May 30, 2013 from Siglio Press.

The second edition of the atlas comes with ten new maps, including Numbers and Roof Lines (below).

The second edition also includes an interview with Blake Butler, as well as essays by Albert Mobilio and Ander Monson. This edition comes swathed in a violet dust jacket and the book itself is daffodil yellow, but it’s the new maps and accompanying essays that are the main attraction.




Read Full Post »

Scouts, snipers, poison gas, gas masks, trench warfare, rifle ranges, gun positions… Maps and war ca 1917…


And a terrific type at that.


Map Reading and the Training of the Intelligence Section, i.e., Scouts, Snipers and Observers are a group of subjects which every officer should personally take interest in.

Not only because they are, as subjects, most interesting, but because they are of the most vital importance when in actual warfare.

To be unable to take a map of a strange sector of country, and thoroughly understand what every line and sign means, is to be helpless in the face of the enemy.

Consequently, I would advise every officer, N.C.O and man to improve his knowledge on map reading and its component parts, as active service in war will call on them every day for a thorough understanding of this subject.

Late O.C. Queen’s Own Rifles, 1917



Orienteering with maps.



Orienteering with maps.



In Plate No. 10-A, we have a sample page of a field book after the traverse has been made and all the desired notes are completed ready to plot on arriving at headquarters or camp.

••••••• 1917_Map_reading_and_intelligence_training_04

Trench raid mapping.



Trench map showing snipers and observation posts.



Indirect firing at the longer ranges requires a proper fixed rifle stand, something on the lines of the stand shown in plate No. 25.



Gun position.



Map showing gun ranges and compass bearings.


C. D. A. Barber

Map Reading and Intelligence Training.

Cleveland, Edward McKay, 1917

Book available at Google Books

Read Full Post »

Cover, Making Maps, 2nd edition (AmazonGuilford)

Krygier and Wood’s book should be used by anyone interested in the way the world looks, the way the world works, or the way the world should be. It remains the most accessible yet comprehensive guide of its kind. The second edition meets the needs and expectations of the “Google generation” of map users while remaining true to the guiding principles that govern how maps look, work, and function. The very accessible, extensively illustrated format makes the book easily usable by students at all levels, as well as those taking steps to develop expertise in cartographic design. Paul Longley, Department of Geography, University College London, United Kingdom.

Building on their solid first edition, Krygier and Wood have created a new and much richer follow-up. The second edition represents a serious reworking of subject matter and graphics. The book uses extraordinary map exemplars to address the full range of basic cartographic concepts and to demonstrate many subtle and advanced design techniques as well. Making Maps is appropriate for beginning to intermediate college cartography students and others who want to tap into the power of map creation. Addressing current social issues including map agendas, ethics, and democracy, it is the kind of book that will inspire readers and cultivate admiration for the field. James E. Meacham, Senior Research Associate and InfoGraphics Lab Director, Department of Geography, University of Oregon.

More than two years in the making, the second edition of the book Making Maps is set for printing. Copies should be available in February or March of 2011. A Korean translation (?!) is planned for 2012.

This is no weenie update: Denis and I ruthlessly reorganized and rethought every bit of content in the book. I then redesigned the entire book and spent the better part of eight months producing it. We both think it’s a much better book.

Denis and I were careful to keep the spirit of the first edition of Making Maps intact while sharpening the overall look, content, and usability of the book. The goal from the beginning was to create a map design text that was different from other map design texts – more visual, creative, critical, engaging, and focused on making maps as well as really understanding how they work. It is a synthesis of what we like most about the academic study of maps and the actual design and production of maps. It is difficult to express how complex and challenging achieving this goal has been. When I look at this new edition, it feels so easy. Why couldn’t we have just done this 8 years ago when I started on the initial edition of the book?

The 2nd edition is larger in size (now 7″ x 10″) allowing more content on each page. In a Tuftean fit of non-data-ink removal, gone are a bunch of pages that didn’t have much content (such as the overview pages near the beginning of each chapter). We did retain ample white space, since absence makes the heart fonder.

We also added new material, including many real mapped examples, yet we are dozens of pages shorter than the first edition. Our goal was a lean book – “the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space” – as Tufte put it.

The cover initiates an expanded version of the “road connector controversy” which sets up the point of the book – you make things happen by making maps.

There is a completely new first chapter setting the context for the entire book. It introduces The Flight of Voyager map, which is annotated a dozen times over throughout the book showing how map design concepts in the text play out on an actual map:

The chapters in the book are about the same, with a new first chapter and some recast chapter names:


1: How to Make a Map
2: What’s Your Map For?
3: Mappable Data
4: Map Making Tools
5: Geographic Framework
6: The Big Picture of Map Design
7: The Inner Workings of Map Design
8: Map Generalization and Classification
9: Map Symbolization
10: Words on Maps
11: Color on Maps

While some chapters retain a significant amount of the original edition’s material, chapters 6 and 7 were extensively revised.

A makingmaps.net blog posting “How Useful is Tufte for Making Maps?” led me to incorporate Tufte’s ideas in the book in a much more explicit manner than in the 1st edition. See, for example, the Tufte-influenced annotated Flight of Voyager map (2 page spread, chapter 6) below:

Chapter 7 was revised as “The Inner Workings of Map Design” including figure ground:

Chapter 9 on map symbols also underwent significant renovations:


Making Making Maps … Second Edition

I am but slightly embarrassed to admit that, once again, I produced the entire book in a 6-year-old version of the now defunct Freehand MX software. My original plan was to shift to InDesign since I was redesigning the entire book, but in the end I just wanted to make the damn book rather than futzing with transferring the maps and graphics from Freehand to InDesign and learning the ins and outs of InDesign. So my plan is to eventually shift the entire book to InDesign assuming a 3rd edition sometime in the future.

The book was produced on my 4-year-old MacBook Pro, which allowed me to work on it at home on the dining room table, at home on the table on our front porch (where Denis and I had earlier sat and pounded through the plan for the 2nd edition), at CupOJoe coffee at the end of the block, at Panera while waiting to pick up Annabelle after her morning pre-school, at soccer practice at some god-forsaken indoor soccer warehouse in the hellish outer suburbs of Columbus, in Raleigh NC whilst visiting Denis to work on the book, at the OSU recreation center with the climbing wall, at the OSU recreation center with the pool (both while waiting for kids to finish various climbey or splashy activities), at my parents house in Waukesha (Wisconsin), the Caribou Coffee in Waukesha, my in-laws in River Hills Wisconsin, and in my office at Ohio Wesleyan.


This is really a labor of love – given the time and brain power expended on the text – and we both hope this new edition lives up to the expectations of the kind and usually enthusiastic readers of the first edition.

Read Full Post »

Denis Wood’s Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas

Now shipping from Siglio Press

Use discount code PUMPKIN for 20% off until November 12, 2010

Three maps from Everything Sings are below

Sidewalk Graffiti | Wind Chimes | Radio Waves


Sidewalk Graffiti (detail)

Scratched, scrawled, or stamped into drying concrete—mostly from the 60s into the 80s—is a fragmentary and tragically conventional body of folklore.

Sidewalk Graffiti (click to enlarge)


Wind Chimes (detail)

When we did the house types survey, we also paid attention to the presence of wind chimes. They were all over—bamboo, glass, shell, metal tubes. Depending on where you stood, the force of the wind, and the time of day, you could hear several chiming, turning the neighborhood into a carillon.

Wind Chimes (click to enlarge)


Radio Waves (detail)

Unlike the wave fronts of wind chimes which—requiring a lot of energy to move the air molecules—never get very large, radio waves don’t propagate in air. They propagate in space and travel undisturbed through non-metallic objects like house walls and bodies. Depending on the location of the transmitter, their wave fronts can be enormous, yet they pass through the neighborhood silently, unfelt, and unnoticed, unless tuned into. In the mid-1980s, Boylan Heights listened mostly to a mix of Top 40, Oldies, Country, R&B, and talk radio on six radio stations: WDGC transmitting from Pittsboro, WFXC from Durham, WQDR from Apex, WRDU in Middlesex, WRAL and WPTF from Auburn. As the neighborhood has changed, so have the radio stations it listens to. Today, it’s mostly NPR broadcast by WUNC in Chapel Hill.

In the key, Boylan Heights is the point of tangency of these six fronts of radio waves. On the map, you can see which waves belong to which stations by their shape and direction. Because radio waves are concave to their point of origin, a wave concave to the lower right (southeast) is coming from Auburn, and one concave to the upper left (northwest) is from Durham. The degree of curvature depends on the size of the wave front and its distance from the source: the straighter the line, the farther away the transmitter. (Sensible curvature decreases with size which is why the earth seems flat.) These wave fronts, ever expanding, make different patterns in other places.

Radio waves also come from the stars. Their wave fronts are effectively flat and they come from every direction, silently, unfelt, and unnoticed.

Radio Waves (click to enlarge)


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »