Note: Much apologies for skipping the September issue of Monthly Maps. To compensate, here’s a double issue filled with fantastic cartographies.

Guernica Magazine has published an excerpt of an interview with Denis Wood, iconic critical cartographer, from his last book titled “Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas“. Let us begin this double issue with Wood’s penetrating analysis of what maps do:


Denis Wood: Maps are just nude pictures of reality, so they don’t look like arguments. They look like “Oh my god, that’s the real world.” That’s one of the places where they get their kick-ass authority. Because we’re all raised in this culture of: if you want to know what a word means, go to the dictionary; if you want to know what the longest river in the world is, look it up in an encyclopedia; if you want to know where some place is, go to an atlas. These are all reference works and they speak “the truth.” When you realize in the end that they’re all arguments, you realize this is the way culture gets reproduced. Little kids go to these things and learn these things and take them on, and they take them on as “this is the way the world is.”

The fabulous neogeographers at the Oxford Internet Institute used Alexa data to identify the most visited websites in each country, and mapped it as an old colonial style choropleth map of ‘Internet empires’. Do not miss another map included in the same page, which uses hexagonal cartograms to qualify the most-visited websites in each country by the population of Internet users in the same country.

oxford internet institute - age of internet empires

The National Atlas of United States has published a fascinating map called Streamer, which allows users to explore the vast geography of the country by following the major streams, tracing them upstream to their source or downstream to where they meet other streams or oceans. - streamer

Developers at the Ordinance Survey, UK, have turned their digital spatial database of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands (available as OS Open Data too) into a playable Minecraft world, built with more than 22 billion blocks!

ordinance survey, uk - minecraft map

Meanwhile in WikiMedia Commons, the British Library has shared a large number of beautifully hand-drawn Ordnance Survey maps from its archives.

ordnance durvey drawings - cardigan (OSD 319-1)

Continuing on the hand-drawn map note, we found a lovely digital copy of the Map of Hundred Acre Wood (from the Winnie the Pooh series) by E.H. Shepard.

e h shepard - map of hundred acre wood

Global Urban Humanities Initiative of UC Berkeley has organised ‘an idiosyncratic exhibit of idiosyncratic maps’ called See-through Maps. All the exhibited entries can be accessed here. The exhibition “left it up to submitters to define “map” for themselves[, since the] range of documents, images, databases, and apps that people consider to be maps is as interesting as the things themselves.”

We loved Natasha Ong’s Pigeon & Pastry Project. Natasha, an eight-year-old student, saw people from Stamen Design presenting their maps and got very interested in them, especially in “the way that they take two non-related things and put them together to make a very detailed and beautiful map”. She explored the pattern of connections between location of bakeries and pigeons in her mapping project.

natasha ong - pigeon and pastry project

The Ellis Act Eviction Map by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is also very powerful. It is an “online digital storytelling and mapping project of the San Francisco Tenants Union endeavoring to make visible the ways in which evictions and gentrification target San Francisco Bay Area communities”.

anti eviction mapping project - ellis act evictions

We found three highly detailed maps showing age of buildings in Brooklyn, NYC, in Portland, Oregon, and the same for the whole of the Netherlands!

bklnyr - block by block, brooklyn's past and present

justin palmer - portland, oregon - the age of a city

bert spaan - buildings in the netherlands by year of construction

The awesome James Cheshire has created a visually striking map titled “Population Lines” that uses wavy lines to depict population density by location (the higher the wave rises, the greater the population at that location). The map is minimally designed, with the names of a few cities mentioned for orientation. Printed copies of the same, framed or not, can be bought from Cheshire’s blog.

james cheshire - populations lines

Now let us take a gentle turn towards the technical aspects of mapping with this great explanation of the distortions caused by various map projection systems, illustrated using a human head. Do not miss the humourous post by Frank Jacobs that accompanies the found image.

strange maps - map projections on human head

We are very excited to note the recent release of GeoGit, a Git-inspired open source tool for supporting collaborative work with geospatial data by allowing easy version controlling for the same. Here is the GitHub reporsitory for the code and here is the documentation.

geogit - workflow

OSM Buildings is a three dimensional mapping library that we are following closely. It is a javascript library that renders the geometric shapes of OpenStreetMap buildings as a three-dimensional object layer upon a base map layer, and it works with both LeafletJS and OpenLayers. Here is the code repository and here are the examples.

osm buildings

Another great new under-construction tool for OpenStreetMap is OSMLY by Aaron Lidman. OSMLY is a browser-based tool for simply importing and editing OpenStreetMap objects (only polygons are supported in the present release), with full support for collaborative editing. Lidman writes that he “built OSMLY to reduce the complexity of doing simple imports with many people and many features. It’s just the essentials: editing geometry, fixing tags, displaying relevant nearby features from OSM, flagging problems and uploading to OSM.” Here is the code repository.


EcoLab, Brazil, has published a great resource for mapping enthusiasts and experts alike — the GeoJournalism Handbook that brings together an authoritative collection of geo-spatial software packages, a glossary of (web-)cartographic terms, and a set of tutorials addressing key problems in working with geo-spatial data.

ecolab - geojournalism handbook

And we had to conclude the issue with this fantastic homage to good old paper maps — unbreakable, runs without power, powered by Fold/Unfold technology, allows zooming and panning without loss of image quality, no need to reset or update, stores user preferences and user-contributed Point-of-Interest data without sharing it with any remote server, and can almost be used as a towel!


Thanks to Tejas Pande for sharing the link to National Atlas’ Streamer map.

One thought on “Monthly Maps: September & October 2013

  1. Pingback: Somewhere else, part 88 | Freakonometrics

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