Monday, June 30, 2003
Subway Blogger Maps Redux
Slate has a piece by Brian Montopoli about subway maps of bloggers (see previous entry) that takes it a step further: by arguing that blog maps offer an alternative city guide that enables a little point-and-click sightseeing, he tries to elicit something about a neighbourhood based on the bloggers that live there.
Im Ready for My Close-up: Dickenss London, Pony Express
More maps from Iconomy:
To show closeups of various London locales, Dickenss London links to a detailed 1859 map of London (hosted on the web site of UCLAs Department of Epidemiology theres actually a good explanation for that) that, like all good online maps, you can click and zoom to a ludicrous level of detail.
Pony Express Route, which provides contemporary maps of the Pony Expresss routes, works in the same way: click to zoom in closer.
In each case, though, I would have liked it if the close-up maps werent quite so tight in focus: once youre at the maximum level of detail, youre able to see only a tiny tiny bit at very very high resolution. You have to zoom out for context. But it no doubt keeps the bandwidth charges down.
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Garmin iQue 3600 Photos
I told you (see previous entry) that I would be keeping an eye on the iQue 3600 (Amazon), Garmins forthcoming GPS Palm handheld. Here are some photos of a preproduction unit that demonstrate some of its features and compare its size with Palms Tungsten T handheld (via Palm Infocenter). The text is in Dutch.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Atlas of England and Wales, 1742
Chorographia Brittaniæ: This site contains a detailed examination of Chorographia Britanniæ, an atlas of the counties of England and Wales, first published in 1742 by William Henry Toms. Extremely detailed and complete, with excellent, academic-quality annotations. This link courtesy of The Cartoonist, who writes, Jonathan, have you blogged the above already? Its brilliant. Now I have, and it is. Im getting quite fond of The Cartoonist, too.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
CanCon: Iqaluit, Nunavut
More CanCon. The Historical and Spatial Evolution of the City of Iqaluit uses aerial photography and maps to trace the development of Nunavuts capital city. Because the city is so small (it only recently passed 6,000 inhabitants) and its history so recent, the close focus is remarkable: you can click on a map and get the history of individual buildings.
CanCon: Centre for Topographic Information
Jason writes in to say this about this site: I dig it. I like maps myself. I especially like the CanCon. Wasnt my plan to focus so much on the CanCon (Canadian content); I suppose its just a matter of posting what you know. Id post on Kazakhstan if given the opportunity. Anyway, heres some more CanCon for the Jasons in my readership, from Canadas Centre for Topographic Information, which is ground zero for Canadian topographic maps. The site not only includes information on topo maps, but also aerial photography (available on CD-ROM) and digital topography services. It also has a helpful online topo map tutorial, of which the UTM tutorial referenced in my earlier post is a part.
Those of us who take topo maps into the field (I myself fit into two categories of topo map use: as amateur field naturalist and as mountain hiker) need something durable: a rolled-up paper map doesnt stand much of a chance folded up and stuffed into a backpack, especially if you get water on it. Thus, the government issues many of its topo maps in folded Tyvek waterproof form. They cost a little more, but theyre wonderful: I own several of them myself, and many map stores seem to consider Tyvek as a selling point. My local store (see previous entry) claims that Tyvek maps will no longer be produced, but Ive yet to see confirmation of that elsewhere.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Maps on Your PDA
For the last two years I have carried a Palm m505 with me wherever I go. Strange as though it may sound, I usually dont have any maps installed on it, despite the numerous mapping solutions available for the platform; I usually just take a paper map with me. That has something to do, I think, with the various shortcomings of each solution, and the fact that there isnt a standard yet (it might also be that I simply cant be bothered). Heres a summary of some of the ways you can get maps on your PDA, which is clearly biased in favour of the Palm platform.
HandMap tries to provide a single-source solution: it provides both the software to view the maps (US$16) and the maps themselves (prices vary for packs and subscriptions, with a few freebies once you buy the viewer). Since I am an egregiously cheap bastard, I havent tried this out, but the screenshots suggest that the map quality is, well, not great. Though, to be fair, much of that has to do with the standard 160 x 160 resolution on older Palms. The Pocket PC screenshots look a little better.
MapQuest (see previous entry) has a mobile option in fact, it has two of them. One is simply to download the map at which youve arrived via a web search to your PDA. The other is a special mobile version that you reach through a wireless or network-connected PDA. There are two methods: download a web-clipping app (included on Palm VIIs); or go directly to a wireless version. I tried downloading a map a couple of years ago and didnt think much of the quality (see previous entry), but then I was calling up a map of a rural area, if memory serves.
The option that many of us are looking forward to is Garmins iQue 3600: a Palm OS 5 handheld with a built-in GPS receiver. Many gadget enthusiasts lust over it for the 320 x 480 screen alone; map enthusiasts will note that, unlike other Garmin GPS receivers, it comes with a fully unlocked licence for either the North American or European city map CD-ROM, rather than a licence for one region. Very promising. How it will hold up as a PDA remains to be seen; its scheduled to be released within the next month. Ill be watching this one closely. (Amazon)
Other, more general tools can be adapted for mapping use. The most interesting and unusual of these is called FireViewer: its a general, all-purpose viewer for downloaded images and web pages, but it handles maps very well. For example, the RATP (see previous entry) uses FireViewer for its PDA maps; Ive uploaded them to my Palm, and they look surprisingly good, which isnt what youd expect given the poor quality of some of the other options. They zoom in and out well, panning over the map is quick and easy, and the images are nicely antialiased. The drawback is that the FireViewer is crippleware: after a 30-day trial, it adds a pause. Its a minor delay, and a lesser drawback than Handmaps, but it may limit the softwares adoption even so, many free maps are available, as is free online conversion, so if the software costs, the content is virtually limitless.
Beyond that, the remaining options include converting PDFs to be read on Adobe Reader for the Palm (or Pocket PC, or Symbian) or using whatever image viewer came with your gadget to convert and view JPEG images in that case, its a matter of having the map in PDF or JPEG format and doing the conversion yourself.
If there are any other mobile mapping solutions out there, Id like to hear about them. And, if you have some experience with using one of the above options and have an opinion about it, Id like to hear from you too.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
James Turner Illustration
Friday, June 20, 2003
New Maproom-discuss E-mail Discussion List
Not sure if this will take off or even if its a good idea, but Ive set up an e-mail discussion list for readers of The Map Room, on the off chance that posts here might set off a conversation or debate or somesuch. Feel free to use it to discuss any map-related topics. A digest version is also available if your e-mail inbox is polluted enough already. Probably of more interest to the die-hard map freak than to the casual commenter, but lets see how this turns out.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Miscellaneous Blogdex Map Links
Some other interesting links I found via Blogdex:
- The online map collection of the United States Military Academys Department of History focuses on historical wars, but the maps are quite recent and, according to the site, constructed in-house.
- Nineteenth-Century Railroad Maps another part of the Library of Congresss Geography and Map Division.
- A collection of historic topographical maps of the U.S.
Good Maps, Bad Maps
Sifting through Blogdex yielded some prize links from last year that made the weblog rounds at that time. Why not mention them here?
Lee McCormacks You Are Here: Maps 101 is an introduction to creating a good map, replete with useful hints. Its always neat to know what goes on behind the scenes of map production.
At the opposite end of the scale might be the maps that many of us use by default theyre integrated into OS Xs Address Book, for example namely, those of MapQuest. This Wired article from last September recounts users stories of getting lost by following MapQuests directions. A user quoted in the article probably has the right idea:
I like to think of MapQuest as more of a guide to get you in the general vicinity, instead of an exact roadmap. MapQuest is good if you have common sense and instincts because itll usually get you close, but youll have to navigate on your own at some point.
In fact thats how Ive used the service myself: to get a general sense of where a given address is. Particularly useful when you have long streets and you dont necessarily want to travel their entire length to find a given address. Ive never used trip directions because that spoils the fun. Ive never found an error-free map; it seems to me that you have to take some responsibility for being aware of your own geography and be able to note when a map or a friends directions, for that matter might lead you astray.
The Atlas of Canada
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Iconomy wrote in over the weekend with a link, via The Cartoonist, to this fictitious German map, which, while she couldnt figure out what the map actually said, she still thought was pretty cool. And it is. Now my own German is fairly atrophied, but a little Googling, plus some judicious use of online translators (inadequate though they may be), has at least allowed me to get the gist of what this map means and its context.
Schlaraffenland translates as paradise; its the title of a Heinrich Mann novel and shows up on the names of resort hotels. This map, dated 1716, may be one of the earliest references (if not the origin of the term); according to the description, it apparently followed a book by Johannes Schnebelin, about which little is said. The map, however, is a satire a Teutonic version of Swift, as it were with place names like Stultorum regnum (country of fools), Prodigalia regnum (country of spendthrifts) and Iuronia regnum (cursed country). Hardly what you would expect from a so-called paradise, but that apparently is the point.
Id appreciate hearing from anyone who can shed any more light on this subject.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Monday, June 16, 2003
City of St. Johns, Newfoundland / London Underground Maps
Owen Massey writes to refer us to the Mapcentre of the City of St. Johns:
From the municipal site of the capital of Newfoundland: rescalable maps, down to aerial photographs, linked to a business directory and a garbage collection schedule.
Incidentally, Owens own page linking to all sorts of maps of the London Underground is definitely not to be missed; its one of the most diverse and entertaining collections of map links Ive yet seen.
Friday, June 13, 2003
Nineteenth-century maps of Liberia from the American Colonization Society Collection (via Metafilter, but its really Plep), which is found in the Library of Congresss Geography and Map Division (see previous entry).
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Another Map Blog
Thanks to a check of Technorati, Ive stumbled across another blog about maps, The Map Service, which started in early May. Unlike this blog, its written by an actual, no-kidding, bona fide geographer.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
International Plep Day
The Map Room is proud to celebrate International Plep Day (via Languagehat and MetaFilter). Mind you, considering how many of the map links posted here are cribbed from the outstanding Plep, just about every day is Plep Day here at The Map Room. Long may he Plep!
Monday, June 09, 2003
Maps as Mnemonic Aid My Trip to Paris in 1997
The flurry of recent posts about Paris maps (see Historic Maps of Paris, Noise Map of Paris, Paris Metro) led me to dig out my copy of the Michelin Plan de Paris, which never left my possession during my six-week stay in Paris in 1997.
Flipping through it, I was amazed at how much of my trip I could recall, and how clearly I could recall it. I didnt keep a travel diary or, at the time, a weblog, so I have no definitive record of the trip other than the expense records I kept (I was there as a research assistant funded by an external grant) and the letters I wrote (copies of which, of course, I dont have). So it came as a great surprise that as I scanned each page, I could recall whether I had or had not visited a place in Paris Place Gambetta after visiting Père Lachaise, Place des Vosges after dinner in the Marais or whether I had gone througha certain Metro or RER station or strolled through a certain neighbourhood.
Not in any particular order, mind you, because, like early childhood memories, while I can remember that I did something, I cant remember exactly when, and in what sequence. This probably only works because Ive only been there once, without multiple visits to overlap upon the memory, and because I kept checking the map compulsively at every step even though I spoke French and carefully dressed to avoid looking like a tourist (i.e., no sneakers or camera), that probably pegged me as one.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Historic Maps of Paris
Universal Transverse Mercator
The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection applies a zone-by-zone square grid that allows a user to pinpoint a location by specifing easting and northing (from a given point) distances in metres. It was originally designed for military purposes, but its not just for artillery officers any more. It has industrial and emergency-services uses, and allows field naturalists to pinpoint the precise location of observation records which is how I was introduced to it.
One advantage to UTM is that it provides constant distance the grid is measured in metres, easting and northing whereas latitude and longitude are angular measurements that vary depending on your position on the globe; a degree of longitude is much smaller near the poles than at the equator. Calculating UTM coordinates is, as a result, much simpler, especially since topographic maps in the U.S. and Canada have the UTM grid. On Canadian topo maps, the UTM grid is light blue and the squares are 1 km across. Theyre also 2 cm across on the 1:50,000-scale map, which means that, with a ruler, you can get a 100-m UTM grid by measuring 2 mm per 100 m.
Im probably not explaining this very well, so here are some links.
The Canadian Department of Natural Resourcess Centre for Topographic Information has an excellent tutorial on the UTM grid. The U.S. National Parks Service also provides a tutorial on how to read the UTM grid on its web site.
Based on what Ive observed, many people are using latitude/longitude on their GPS receivers rather than UTM. Heres a Java applet that converts between UTM and latitude/longitude. MapTools, a GPS enthusiast site, has a UTM tutorial aimed at GPS users.
Monday, June 02, 2003
More Old Japanese Maps
Following up on my previous post on Japanese historical maps, here are some more for you. Jans Anime Pages links to the Ashida Antique Map Collection and to the George Beans Collection of Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Period at the UBC library. If only the map images were larger. (via Iconomy)