Archive for the 'Non-map' Category

04
Oct
12

Atlas of Design

Gentle readers,

Things have been fairly quiet around here lately, and I apologize for that. I’ve had some maps in mind to write about, but much of my spare time has been taken up by a major project. I present to you, the NACIS Atlas of Design:

Click to visit the Atlas of Design website

This is a book I edited along with the superbly awesome Tim Wallace. It’s a refereed collection of some of the world’s best cartography. You may recall my announcement earlier this year that we were taking entries. Well, we had over 140 of them, and then a panel of judges selected 27 finalists to be published in this anthology.

This book is very important to me personally. In this era of quick and easy mapping, I feel that all too often we are focused only on the coding, or the data, and not enough on how the whole thing looks, and how it makes readers feel. This is a book about how maps look, and why we need to remember that beautiful and clever design is an essential ingredient in mapmaking. We wanted to produce a volume to honor talented people, and to inspire everyone out there toward new understandings of the role of aesthetics and design in mapmaking. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I very much hope it will give you something to ponder.

25
Jun
12

Doing One’s Homework

Gentle readers,

I must apologize to you for an error which I committed in my most recent writing here on Cartastrophe.

A few days ago I posted an analysis of two maps from the PBS series America Revealed. In developing my critique, I relied on a piece from the Daily Mail in the UK, which posted images of many of the maps in the series. I wrote up my post based solely on what the Daily Mail said about the maps, rather than going back and looking at them in their original context. I had originally thought that the PBS series hadn’t yet aired, and so I didn’t look too hard. But, in fact, it was available online, having appeared in the US about two months ago, and had I spent about 15 seconds looking online I would have learned this fact immediately.

Having now reviewed the maps as they appeared on the PBS series, I find that my critique of the first map was based on some erroneous assumptions about the map’s subject. It is not a map of raw job losses, but a map of manufacturing jobs in the 1990s, which then (as the video proceeds), shows the blue dots winking out as jobs vanish over time. If you go back to the original post, you’ll see that I’ve added some notes about the new context information.

I would like to apologize to you, readers, and to the creators of those maps, for judging them outside of their appropriate context. It is my responsibility to research the works that I show here, to ensure that the comments I make are based on a correct assessment of how the map is used, and what it purports to be about. I take this responsibility seriously, and I try to limit my critique to things that are positively known about the map, rather than assumptions. I did not do my homework sufficiently in this case.

It is my opinion that pretty much all of my critique remains valid in light of the new information on these maps, so hopefully I dodged a bullet there. However, that’s ultimately for you to judge. It’s up to you, as my readers, to determine if I am making fair and reasonable points about the maps I examine. I provide links to their sources for this purpose. Because of my laxness, neither of us had all the information needed to assess these works.

I’m sorry about this; it won’t happen again.

20
Jan
12

A Bump for NACIS Projects

A few of you probably saw this post over on somethingaboutmaps, but it’s important enough that I want to repeat it here.

Today I’d like to give a little publicity to a couple of new projects I’m involved in, and which need help from people like you. Both of these are organized through NACIS, the North American Cartographic Information Society.

Atlas of Design

First off, NACIS is creating a new publication, the Atlas of Design, which is intended to be a showcase for top-notch cartographic work around the world. We need help from you, though, to make it happen. If you know of some great work out there, let us know at atlas@nacis.org. It doesn’t have to be something you’ve made — if you’ve seen a great map out there  that someone else has made, encourage them to submit to us, or let us know and we’ll get in touch. We want work out there that gets to the heart of great cartography and makes us think about what beauty and design are.

As the announcement says:

The Atlas will feature a gallery of full-color maps showcasing cartography at its most beautiful, its cleverest, its sharpest, and its most intriguing. But it will be more than a museum of images; each map will be accompanied by thoughtful commentary that guides the reader toward a deeper understanding of the work: its inspiration and message, the ways it means to influence us. It is well to look upon something beautiful and good, but once we understand how it is beautiful and good, we can carry those lessons into our own work and advance the craft of mapmaking.

For more information, including guidelines, go to nacis.org/atlas.

Initiative for Cartographic Education

NACIS is also launching a new education program, the Initiative for Cartographic Education. The aim of ICE is to improve the quality and reach of cartography education at all levels (primary through college through professional training). As its first project, ICE will be assembling a curated database of education resources: labs, lesson plans, images, tutorials, etc.  Wondering how other people teach projections? You’ll be able to look at lecture notes and slides from other educators, using them to inspire improvements in your own practice. Creating a new a lab section and need some content? Ready-to-use lab exercises will be available to help get you started. We want to make it easier for colleagues to share best practices with each other, and create an ongoing conversation about how cartography should be taught.

To do this, we need your help. If you have resources you’d be willing to share (preferably under a Creative Commons license), contact me at daniel.p.huffman@gmail.com. We can host materials, but if you already happen to have them online, we’ll also be putting URL entries into the database as well.

——

NACIS is about cartographers coming together to do great things, and both of these projects are going to be awesome. Please consider participating. And please pass this along to as many people possible. We want everyone to know what we’re up to.

30
Jan
11

Sibling Site

Some many months ago, I decided to launch a blog about maps. It was, at first, intended to be about my own cartographic thoughts and designs. However, it quickly turned out that I didn’t have much to say on the subject. So, instead, I closed it down and started Cartastrophe, because I had plenty to say about other peoples’ maps.

I have, however, lately found myself with a lot more inspiration to talk about my own work. So I’ve re-launched my other blog, somethingaboutmaps. It will concern itself with my design work, my teaching, and my other personal thoughts on cartography. It also talks about the new store I launched, because I’m going to try and sell some of my designs, given that the Internet makes it possible to do that with no overhead now.

Cartastrophe doesn’t seem the place for any of that stuff, though, so I’d like to keep these two efforts mostly separate. Readers come here for map analysis and critique, rather than to hear about the work I’m doing, why I have a problem with how conformal projections are taught, or how business is going. If you’re interested in any of that sort of thing, though, please head on over to somethingaboutmaps.wordpress.com and subscribe.

Speaking of map critique, I should have another piece coming along in the next couple of days. I have a map in mind and some things to say about it; I just need to gather a little bit of information on its origins to put it in context. If I can get some coherent thoughts together, I may also put together a post on what happens when you make a map and it becomes unexpectedly popular, because that Twitter map was in some ways a little bit of a cartastrophe for me, with people interpreting them in ways I did not expect.

02
Oct
10

Two Notes

Also, a couple of quick notes:

First off, my UW-Madison colleague Tim Wallace has put together an interesting post on pushpin maps over at his blogging home, timwallace.wordpress.com. They’re a topic definitely worthy of discussion and critical thought, especially given their newfound popularity on the Internet. He’ll also be giving a talk on the subject in mid-October at the NACIS Annual Meeting in St. Petersburg, FL.

Secondly, everyone should come to the aforementioned NACIS meeting. You don’t need to be a mapmaker to attend. You just need to like talking about maps with interesting and friendly people. And, really, who doesn’t?

27
Sep
09

Not Dead Yet

Hello everyone. Apologies for leaving my corner of the Internet fallow for a month — life has been rather busy as the new academic year starts, and I am going through a long bout of illness which has been sapping my energy. Things should start to pick up over the coming month, I expect. For now, a few bits and pieces of site news:

  1. I’m planning on making a few changes around here, in terms of content. While we learn well from critique of others (and ourselves), it’s also nice to have a detailed look at what others have done right, as well. In service of my larger mission of helping everyone (myself included) make better maps, I’ll be putting up some really nice maps up from time to time. This is not one of those FAIL blogs, where someone posts a funny picture and we make fun of people. This is about what we can learn to do better in the future, either from good or bad cartographic examples. The site name will remain the same for now, but feel free to also send me great maps as well as not-so-great ones.
  2. You may recall that last month I examined a map which showed seismic potential in the Pacific. A reader, Alistair, wrote to me recently to mention that he was familiar with the map and knew its provenance. It apparently comes from a 1979 article in Pure and Applied Geophysics, titled “Seismic gaps and plate tectonics: seismic potential for major boundaries,” by McCann, Nishenko, Sykes, and Krause. You’ll find their article on pages 1802-1147 of volume 117. There appear to be multiple versions of this map floating around, actually. Alistair sent me a link to a PowerPoint presentation which cites the article and reproduces their map, but the colors are a bit different, though the data appear the same. I’m quite pleased and amazed that someone out there was able to connect the map to a source.
  3. I’ve lately received the first ever email from a victim of this blog. Mike, an employee of Kerr Wood Leidal, writes to let me know some more information about their map of hydropower potential in British Columbia. First off, it was printed at 3′ by 4′, so my concerns about the small, crowded symbols are alleviated. It’s actually a version of an earlier map that they drafted, which they could not enter in the contest due to copyright reasons. The original has a better centered projection, improved hydrography, and better point symbols. It’s worth remembering that the maps on here have a story behind their creation, a set of reasons why they turned out as they did.
  4. Finally, since I’ve given some friends the benefit of a link here and there on the site, I thought I would do the same for myself. I recently put together a portfolio of my work, if you are curious to see. Feel free to subject me to the same treatment that I give others (speaking of which, one of my upcoming posts will do exactly that). While I’m at it, I’d like to plug my hosts at A Good Portfolio, which is an excellent (and free!) service. It allows you to quickly assemble an online gallery of work with an intuitive interface and minimal hassle. There are few bells and whistles, but I think it doesn’t really need them.

That’s all for now — I’ll be back with more cartographic content in the coming week.

13
Jul
09

Bowling Ball Stories

Not so much an update as a quick anecdote from vacation.

I was out bowling with some friends, and the bowling balls were color-coded by weight. 12lb was green, for example, 15lb purple, and yellow was 7 or 8lb, I believe. I immediately thought, “using color hue to encode weight is inappropriate here, as these are ordinal data! An orderable color scheme should be used, such as light to dark green!” This is how bad I have gotten, how deeply ingrained some of these things have become.

See also my friend Daniel’s comment on one of my earlier posts.

The preceding had nothing to do with maps, but I hope you will forgive my indulgence.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers