Archive for the ‘Map Books’ Category

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?

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

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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.


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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.


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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)


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


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



Pesca | Fish (excerpt, p. 25)


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



Poblacion | Population (excerpt, p. 29)



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


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



Educacion | Education (excerpt, p. 40)


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



Azucar | Sugar (excerpt, p. 44)


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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


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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.




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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.

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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

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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.

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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)


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