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The Map Room: Archives (April 2003)

Monday, April 28, 2003

Buying Maps

When I go shopping for maps, it goes something like this. Two weeks ago, in preparation for a weekend of mucking around in swamps for a wildlife census, I went into World of Maps and bought the following:

  • Three topographic maps, for the fieldwork itself; and
  • A MapArt Ontario Road Atlas and folding maps of Barrie/Orillia and Peterborough, for getting there and back again.

But when some other people buy maps, they lay out some serious coin — at, for example, Raremaps.com (via Iconomy). Dealers in old maps were not something I was aware of until I had read Miles Harvey’s Island of Lost Maps, which is perhaps not the most positive introduction to collecting old maps, but an interesting (and cautionary) tale all the same.

Even if my own map collecting is somewhat more pragmatic and, um, mundane, don’t let that stop you from submitting links on antique maps, map dealers or map collecting.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 8:01 AM

Friday, April 25, 2003

Mapping Delaware

Moving from old Maryland maps to digital maps of Delaware, here is the Delaware DataMIL. Mike Mahaffie of the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination, who helped develop it with his “brilliant partners” at the University of Delaware, explains it:

The DataMIL is intended to provide an on-line collaboration laboratory in which Delaware’s GIS community and spatial data users can carry out a continual update of the basic data layers that make up a digital base-map of the state. It also gives the general public browser-based access to up-to-date on-line topographic maps of Delaware.
The DataMIL is also a leading Pilot Project for the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Map project.

Give the DataMIL Map Lab a try and see what you think.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 11:00 AM

Mapping Maryland

Mapping Maryland traces the visual depiction of Maryland from its pre-colonial times through the mid-nineteenth century.” (via plep)

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 10:10 AM

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Many MetaFilter Map Links

I wish to register a complaint: there are too many good map links in this here MetaFilter post, mostly about projections (the initial post was about Australian upside-down maps). More than I can extract into individual posts here, so off you go. One of MeFi’s better efforts.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:51 PM

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark: Mapping the West is aimed at students in Grades 6-12 and comes complete with lesson plans; it’s an accessible introduction to the expedition and includes small images of the maps that were made, an overview of mapmaking circa 1800, and links to maps hosted elsewhere. (via plep)

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:42 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Geography Quizzes

Geography quizzes are popular online, at least if posts to MetaFilter are any indication. Two recent quiz posts there (and there have been others) made me stop and think about what I think about geography quizzes as a genre.

In a nutshell, I’m unimpressed. For one thing, since my score on these quizzes is usually pretty close to 100 per cent (he said, smugly), I get impatient when the most common reaction is to moan about how poorly one scores. (My grump reaction to which is that it might help if the only time you looked at a world map wasn’t just when you take a quiz.)

Enough of my being the arrogant know-it-all. My other objection is that if you’re going to take the trouble to put out an interactive quiz, you really have an obligation to be accurate — or at least make sure that imagemap or JavaScript errors or bad UI design doesn’t make people click the wrong thing by mistake even when they do know the right answer. Which, as I’ve pointed out, can happen.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 8:53 AM

City of Ottawa Online Maps

The City of Ottawa has a fairly extensive collection of online maps available on its web site, including such things as maps of bike routes, planning maps, maps pointing out city services, aerial photography and census data. Useful for me as I live just across the river.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:33 AM

Friday, April 11, 2003

Japanese Historical Maps

Over 200 Japanese historical maps, some centuries old, are available online, courtesy of UC Berkeley's East Asian Library. The map browser software will not load in Safari or Camino (or, presumably, Mozilla), but I could view the maps using Internet Explorer 5.2 for Mac, so IE users should be fine. (via Anil)

Update, April 13: Read this New York Times article about the collection (via MetaFilter).

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:28 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2003

The London Underground

A marvellous archive of maps of the London Underground, from 1908 to 1999. Twenty-five maps are online at the moment. (via plep)

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 4:10 PM

The Better to Stalk Your Favourite Blogger by, My Dear

Find your favourite blogger in New York, London or Washington, DC by the subway station they live closest to, using maps of the cities’ respective subway networks. We bloggers sure are an exhibitionistic bunch, but this seems an awfully brave thing to reveal. There’s definitely a sociological interest in seeing the correlation between neighbourhoods (and the associated demographic data) and weblogging, though. (via MetaFilter)

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 9:16 AM

High-resolution Satellite Photography

I remember as a child being absolutely transfixed by a composite aerial photograph of Winnipeg, and trying to compare it to the inevitably inaccurate official map, which included roads and subdivisions that existed only on the drawing board. Now, of course, it’s worse: satellite photography is now so sophisticated that you can get one-metre-resolution images of just about anywhere on the planet — updated every few days, for a level of accuracy that maps simply cannot keep up with. And it’s not just spy satellites any more; it’s what Space Imaging provides, commercially. (Thanks to Steven for the link.) Put into practice, that means, among other things, high-resolution images of precision bomb strikes in Baghdad.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 9:06 AM

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Celestial Atlases, Antique and Modern

Iconomy links to two sites about celestial atlases. First, an online exhibition of the celestial atlases, some dating from as far back as the 1400s, from the rare books collection of the Linda Hall Library. The exhibition itself took place in 1995-1996, but the web pages for Out of This World: The Golden Age of the Celestial Atlas remain. Second, a look at what is apparently the most widely used modern celestial atlas, the Atlas Coeli Skalnaté Pleso, first published in 1948, by Slovak astronomer Antonín Becvár (1901-1962).

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:47 AM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Electoral Maps of Quebec

Electoral maps are something for which I’ve always had an aberrant fascination. I’ve never been able to watch election returns without knowing the exact location of the constituencies being reported on, and I’ve always pored over boundary redistribution reports (which aren’t nearly as exciting as redistricting in the U.S., since gerrymandering is, because of the rules, so much harder to get away with). Since my new home province, Quebec, is having an election on April 14, here are maps of the electoral districts: the further in you click, the more detail you will see. In French only, unfortunately, but I’m sure you’ll still be able to muddle through.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 8:12 PM

Military Action in Iraq

An excellent map of confirmed military action in Iraq from Asia Times Online: small but precise, and a good way to get a sense of the big picture. (via Nick Denton)

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 2:41 PM

Official Provincial Highway Maps

One of the things I enjoyed most as a child, travelling across Canada by road with my family, was collecting official highway maps published by the various provincial governments. To this day I still keep as many of them as I can, in spite of the fact that I don’t even own a car. But now some provincial governments have put their official maps online, some as JPEG or GIF images, others as PDF files. Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have broken down their maps into PDF pieces that will fit on a page; Saskatchewan and British Columbia provide them inside web pages, though BC’s are very spare — but then so is the paper version. Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories only provide simple online maps, rather than reproductions of the real thing. And PEI’s unnecessarily complicated map site does not support Macintosh (even though there are 250 times as many Mac users as PEI residents) or Mozilla, so I can’t evaluate whether their maps are any good. Finally, on the Yukon Territory’s government web site there is a very large (697 KB) JPEG map, but its edges are cut off.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 2:31 PM

Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary

For those of us who are concerned with the conservation of local reptiles and amphibians, the Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas is an indispensable resource, providing detailed species range maps that show the location of every observation they have on record — but not so detailed, hopefully, that poachers intent on capturing Wood Turtles or Spotted Turtles can pinpoint good hunting spots.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 1:27 PM

Cartographic Projections: A Primer

A map is the result of projecting a spherical surface onto a flat plane. As a result, each projection involves some distortion; it’s important to choose a projection that distorts the mapped area the least. So let’s learn about cartographic projections. You’ve no doubt heard of the Mercator projection; did you know there are dozens more? Here are some introductions to the subject: one from Peter H. Dana of the University of Colorado at Boulder; one from Laurie Garo of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and one from Lloyd Treinish of the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center (thanks to Steven for the last one).

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 10:56 AM

Maps as German Nationalist Propaganda; Mercator’s World

Maps, often in stark black and white, were a propaganda tool of German nationalists, who used them in the interwar period to nurse the grievances of the Treaty of Versailles:

Thematically, the new maps promoted two main arguments — that the postwar boundaries of Germany threatened the very existence of the country and that they failed to encompass what was “rightfully” German.

Incidentally, this article (sent along by Steven, who I forgot has a GIS background) is my first exposure to Mercator’s World magazine. Which shows just how little I know about this subject.

Posted by Jonathan Crowe at 7:58 AM