Gentle readers, permit me to request your participation in Cartastrophe’s very first Redesign Competition!
Charles Joseph Minard’s famed carte figurative of Napoleon’s march to Moscow is considered by quite a number of people to be one of the finest maps ever produced. It’s elegant, it’s clever, and it’s clear. Tufte said that it “may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”
High praise for an impressive work, certainly, but I want to challenge the cartographic community to see if they can improve upon Minard’s effort. To be fair, I haven’t the faintest idea if I have enough readers to make this work. But I’m going to give it a try.
I hope you will consider submitting a redesign of Minard’s map to me at email@example.com, by June 1st, 2010. Please include a short bit of text describing your design — inspirations, what you changed or improved upon and why, etc. I will review them all and post the best examples on this very website. As an enticement, I am offering a fabulous prize: A grab-bag of free maps from the Arthur Robinson Map Library, which regularly sheds parts of its collection. I am a graduate student, so I am afraid I cannot offer much more than that (though, if you feel like being a generous donor and offering up your own prize, let me know).
Feel free to use whatever resources are at your disposal, and to take this project in whatever direction you may prefer, so long as it remains a map (rather than an aspatial infographic) and contains the same data as the original (you may add more data if you think it necessary and relevant). A simple web search turns up a lot of good material on Minard and this map, including a number of re-designs, though most are rather unimpressive.
For those of you like me who have no idea what any of those words on the map mean, here’s a link to an English translation of the original French. I found it on the Internet, so it must be accurate!
Minard’s design is indeed excellent, and deserves the praise he has received, but it is not perfect. So let’s see what we can do with it.
Please spread the word about this competition — the more people involved, the better!