Here is another double issue of Monthly Maps to begin the new year.

The end of the year saw several great “best maps of 2013″ posts. We will go to them soon but first let’s look at the map that got the “worst map of 2013″ award from Kenneth Field, the Cartonerd. In his famous words, it features a “symposium of technicolour psychedelic vomit across the map.”

cartonerd - worst map of 2013

This beautiful three-dimensional globe-based visualisation of surface wind speed (powered by D3) was featured on both Kenneth Field’s “favourite maps from 2013″ and Wired MapLab’s “the most amazing, beautiful and viral maps of the year” posts. - earth wind map

And a 500 years-old globe made of Ostrich eggs, which can possibly be the oldest surviving maps showing Americas, Africa and Japan.

ostrich egg globe

Elsewhere, Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic acted upon a tip from Andrew Gray to highlight the remarkably rare appearance of the phrase “here be dragons” (or in Latin: “hic sunt dracones”) among the various surviving old maps and globes. Robinson refers to the work of Erin C. Blake, a researcher specialising in eighteenth and nineteenth century maps, who found the phrase to ever appear only on a single globe, called the Lenox Globe. However, many old maps and globes have featured pictorial depiction of dragons.

the lennox globe

From globes we move to Cane Maps, which were the original portable maps embedded in a commonly carried accessory. Caitlin Dempsey of GIS Lounge shares images of the first Cane Map that was created for the Chicago World Fair of 1893. The two-sided spring-loaded sheet featured maps of both the fair ground and the city of Chicago.

cane maps

And we jump to a cutting-edge neogeography collaboration by Here and CartoDB to visualise the real-time life of cities using urban data crowdsourced from varieties of connected devices — from mobile phones to cars. This map was featured in GIS Lounge’s “six interesting maps of 2013” post.

here - living cities - mumbai

Though not strictly a map, the following project gives a powerful experience of the inter-stellar expanse by making you scroll down the equivalent of Earth’s distance to Mars, if Earth had been 100 pixels wide.

distance to mars

Addressing another kind of travel, Martin de Wulf’s Migrations Map shows the international migration movements for each country. The map uses data from the Global Migrant Origin Database and the code can be found at GitHub.

martin de wulf - migrations map

Frank Jacobs brought us the climate maps of Middle Earth. The map seems to ignore the micro-climatic aberrations that can be created by the presence of fire-breathing dragons.

middle earth - temperature map

And Jonathan Roberts, official cartographer of the lands (and seas) of ice and fire, shares low-res watermarked maps of Westeros and Essos. Go to his website to read through the posts about making of individual maps, along with various cartographic tips.

jonarthan roberts - braavos

Eleanor Lutz from Mapbox has created a set of beautiful map tiles styled using “different wooden textures for everything from parking lots and hospitals to wetlands and forests”.

eleanor lutz - woodcut map

Financial Times has produced an incisive map-based data visualisation of the rent crisis in London, which allows you to select the number of bedrooms and your gross salary, and shows what percentage of the salary would go into rental payment for such a house across the city.

financial times - london rent map

The fabulous Information Geographies project team at Oxford Internet Institute has published a cartogram of Global and Country Code Top-Level Domains (gTLD and ccTLD) to compare web domain registrations across countries (not necessarily by people/organisations from the same country).

oii - geography of top-level domains

Just to quickly mention some more map-related news: Kenneth Field draws our attention to Apple’s absurd plan of patenting interactive maps with multiple data-layers (as has been featured on all maps at all times); Wired MapLab argues that knowledge of D3 is essential for making faster, lighter and better maps; James Cheshire and Robin Lovelace have posted a fantastic (but demanding) tutorial on working with spatial data with ggplot2 (library of R); the redesigned (by the Mapbox team) website is publicly launched; and Matteo Muratori, an Italian game developer, has created a free-to-play turn-based RTS game based upon Google Maps, called War2Map!


And let’s conclude this double issue with an excerpt from Brian Timoney’s “geo predictions for 2014″:

Geographic data, spatial analysis, and cartography will all enjoy an increase in financial investment and general public awareness in 2014. But the percentage of this content generated by traditional GIS software will decline. The spatial-isn’t-special mantra becomes entrenched as interesting geo applications increasingly “happen” elsewhere such as:

* in databases unmediated by geo middleware
* custom search applications powered by Solr/ElasticSearch et al
* statistical analysis packages such a R and the emerging Python ecosystem
* purely in the browser via Javascript APIs and visualization libraries…

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