Archive for the ‘Print’ Category

Antrophogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

[Editor's note: The new "anthropocene" age has been detailed by the likes of The Economist, National Geographic Magazine,  The New York Times, and Wired. While much has been made of miles of road and general interconnected transportation network,  population density, and other measures,  I'm most captivated by this newish map showing "years of intensive use". Get your Jared Diamond out and study this map. Thanks Hugo! More maps at Ecotope, thanks Andrew!]

Perhaps the most obvious mark we’ve made to the planet is in land-use changes. For millennia, humans have chopped down forests and moved rock and soil for agriculture and pastureland—and more recently, for construction.

Antrophogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere

CREDIT: ERLE ELLIS, ADAPTED FROM E. ELLIS, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A, 369:1010 (2011) From the Science article “A global perspective on the anthropocene” DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6052.34

Announcing Field Papers (Stamen)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Republished from Stamen.

We’ve just rolled out a new way for you to make atlases of the world, called Field Papers. Field Papers allows you to print a multipage paper atlas of anywhere in the world and take it outside, offline, into the field. You can scribble on it, add features, or make notes about the area, all without a GPS or complicated GIS software.

Once you’ve annotated your atlas, you can upload photographs of each page back into the system to transcribe your notes into digital form. Each atlas gets its own page on Field Papers, and a simple history of edits and activity which you can share with friends or colleagues, and download for later analysis. Take a look at some of the atlases that have already been created on the Watch page, or browse by place, like France or Liberia.

The interface looks like this:

This project is a continuation of Walking Papers, which was built for the OpenStreetMap (OSM) editing community. Field Papers allows you to print multiple-page atlases using several map styles (including satellite imagery and black and white cartography to save ink) and has built in note annotation tools with GIS format downloads. You can also create a Field Papers account to collect any atlases you create or snapshots you upload, or you can stay anonymous. Maps from the two systems work together if you want OSM editing (see below).

Field Papers also offers several automation and map customization tools for more geo-inclined people, and the open source code is on Github.

Why not try making an atlas at Field Papers?

View Project »

The Agnostic Cartographer: Google’s maps are embroiling the company in the world’s touchiest geopolitical disputes

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Like other mapping company operating internationally, Google has to meet multiple objectives when delineating national frontiers.  This article from the Washington Monthly discusses some of the hot water the company has gotten itself into. Google recently rolled out higher-precision boundary lines in it's Maps and Earth products to address some of these concerns. Image above: Picturesque but contentious: Google Maps made this village Chinese, temporarily. India wasn’t pleased. Photo: Annabelle Breakey. Thanks GeoStuff!]

Republished from Washington Monthly.
By John Gravois

One fateful day in early August, Google Maps turned Arunachal Pradesh Chinese. It happened without warning. One minute, the mountainous border state adjacent to Tibet was labeled with its usual complement of Indian place-names; the next it was sprinkled with Mandarin characters, like a virtual annex of the People’s Republic.

The error could hardly have been more awkward. Governed by India but claimed by China, Arunachal Pradesh has been a source of rankling dispute between the two nations for decades. Google’s sudden relabeling of the province gave the appearance of a special tip of the hat toward Beijing. Its timing, moreover, was freakishly bad: the press noticed that Google’s servers had started splaying Mandarin place-names all over the state only a few hours before Indian and Chinese negotiating teams sat down for talks in New Delhi to work toward resolving the delicate border issue.

Google rushed to admit its mistake, but not before a round of angry Indian blog posts and news articles had flourished online. Some commentators posited outright conspiracy between Beijing and the search engine. “Google Maps has always been more biased towards China over the Arunachal Pradesh border dispute,” surmised an Indian blogger. Even more ominously, one former member of Parliament told the Times of India, “The Chinese know how to time their statements ahead of a bilateral meeting.”

Google responded in a manner that radiated chilly omnipresence—by posting a statement in the comments section of what appeared to be every single Web site that had discussed the mix-up. “The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data,” Google announced. “We are in the process of reverting the data to its previous state, and expect the change to be visible in the product shortly.”

One mystery remained, however: how did such an error happen in “the product” in the first place? Why did Google have that perfect set of Chinese names lying around, ready to swap in for the Indian ones?

Continue reading at Washington Monthly . . .

The end of movable type in China (idsyn)

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Ever wonder what the Movable Type blog platform is named after? "While Western letterpress printing has made a recent revival, what was once considered one of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China is no longer a sustainable practice in its country of origin." Thanks Design Observer!]

Republished from idsyn.

Wai Che Printing Company, preserved by its 81-year-old owner Lee Chak Yu, has operated on Wing Lee Street with its bilingual lead type collection and original Heidelberg Cylinder machine for over 50 years. Curious to learn more, I visited Wai Che—one of the last remaining letterpress shops in Hong Kong—to understand how Chinese movable type differed and why this trade has become obsolete.

Movable type, made influential by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, was one of the greatest technological advances defining typography as we know it today. Invented in China by Bi Sheng 400 years earlier during the Song Dynasty, movable type was created as a system to print lengthy Buddhist scripture. As Chinese characters were mostly square, characters of uniform size and shape were easily interchangeable for printing. Kerning was not an issue; the letterforms had a balanced visual appearance by nature.

When entering the Chinese letterpress shop, an instant observation was the vast amount of characters in each set of type. Characters of the Latin alphabet were often organized either by uppercase and lowercase (so named because of the separate cases to differentiate between majuscule and minuscule letterforms) or more recently in a California Job Case. Instead of using a type drawer, Chinese characters were typically stored in cube shelving with the type stacked into a square or column, facing outward for easy identification. Using a pair of tweezers, printers carefully picked characters out of a wall of tiled type and placed them onto a composing stick before setting up the chase.

Continue reading at idsyn . . .

Knight News Challenge 2010 Knight News Challenge: TileMapping wants to bring the mashup mentality to local maps

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

[Editor's note: Hyperlocal maps mashing up with local news are about to get much more interesting. If you create city street maps, you should read this article and start researching web Mercator and how to cut your custom cartography into image tiles. Might make a good topic at this year's NACIS meeting in St. Pete.]

Republished from the Nieman Journalism Lab.
By Megan Garber
June 2410 a.m.

Two primary concerns when it comes to news innovation have to do with information itself: harnessing it and investing communities in it. One of this year’s Knight News Challenge winners wants to tackle both of those concerns — at the same time, through the same platform.

Tilemapping aims to empower residents of local communities to explore those communities through mapping. “A lot of great stories can be told using maps and some of the new data that’s become available,” says Eric Gunderson, the project’s coordinator. And the Tilemapping project wants to leverage the narrative power of new technologies to help media — community media, in particular — create hyper-local, data-filled maps that can be easily embedded and shared. The tool is aimed at both journalists and community members more broadly; the idea is to help anyone with investment in a given location “tell more textured stories” about that location — and to help visualize (and discover) connections that might not otherwise be clear.

Tilemapping does what its name suggests: It provides “a tool that basically glues together a bunch of tiles,” Gunderson says, to create a layered map. (Map tiles are the small, square images that comprise maps — think of the squares you see when zooming in on a Google Map.) The project works through TileMill, a MapBox tool that, in turn, “glues together a bunch of other open-source tools to make it easier to generate map tiles.” Users customize both their data and the particular style of their map — and TileMill generates a custom, composite rendering, hosted on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Essentially, the platform is a modular system that allows users to customize the data they want to represent — and to layer them upon other representations to create targeted, contextual maps.

Continue reading at Nieman Journalism Lab . . .

“A super sophisticated mashup”: The semantic web’s promise and peril (Nieman Lab)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Journalism, and the web in general, is finally catching up to GIScience and the transition from static paper maps to rich, digital maps that included data attributes (rather than graphically encoded attributes) and, more importantly, linking attributes. From Nieman Report's latest issue focusing on digital journalism.]

Republished from Nieman Journalism Lab.
By Andrew Finlayson
. June 17

In the movie Terminator, humanity started down the path to destruction when a supercomputer called Skynet started to become smarter on its own. I was reminded of that possibility during my research about the semantic web.

Never heard of the semantic web? I don’t blame you. Much of it is still in the lab, the plaything of academics and computer scientists. To hear some of them debate it, the semantic web will evolve, like Skynet, into an all powerful thing that can help us understand our world or create various crises when it starts to develop a form of connected intelligence.

Intrigued? I was. Particularly when I asked computer scientists about how this concept could change journalism in the next five years. The true believers say the semantic web could help journalists report complex ever-changing stories and reach new audiences. The critics doubt the semantic web will be anything but a high-tech fantasy. But even some of the doubters are willing to speculate that computers using pieces of the semantic Web will increasingly report much of the news in the not too distant future.

Continue reading at Nieman Reports . . .

Resolving the iPhone resolution (Discover)

Monday, June 14th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Good overview of scale (for eyes, and for maps) with remote sensing principles applied to tackle pixel density and the eye's ability to resolve that resolution. See also post on smart phone screen sensor accuracy. Thanks anonymous twitter user!]

Republished from Discover Magazine.

With much bruhaha, Steve Jobs and Apple revealed the new iPhone 4 yesterday. Among other features, Jobs said it has higher resolution than older models; the pixels are smaller, making the display look smoother. To characterize this, as quoted at Wired.com, he said,

It turns out there’s a magic number right around 300 pixels per inch, that when you hold something around to 10 to 12 inches away from your eyes, is the limit of the human retina to differentiate the pixels.

In other words, at 12 inches from the eye, Jobs claims, the pixels on the new iPhone are so small that they exceed your eye’s ability to detect them. Pictures at that resolution are smooth and continuous, and not pixellated.

However, a display expert has disputed this. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Industries, was quoted both in that Wired article and on PC Mag (and other sites as well) saying that the claims by Jobs are something of an exaggeration: “It is reasonably close to being a perfect display, but Steve pushed it a little too far”.

This prompted the Wired article editors to give it the headline “iPhone 4’s ‘Retina’ Display Claims Are False Marketing”. As it happens, I know a thing or two about resolution as well, having spent a few years calibrating a camera on board Hubble. Having looked this over, I disagree with the Wired headline strongly, and mildly disagree with Soneira. Here’s why.

First, let’s look at resolution*. I’ll note there is some math here, but it’s all just multiplying and dividing, and I give the answers in the end. So don’t fret, mathophobes! If you want the answers, just skip down to the conclusion at the bottom. I won’t mind. But you’ll miss all the fun math and science.

Continue reading at Discover Magazine . . .

Migration in China: Invisible and heavy shackles (Economist)

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Powerful charting compares official stats to reality for the agricultural "ecosystem refugees" who find themselves in the city. Related: US Census releases data on geographic mobility for 2008.]

Republished from the Economist.

Until China breaks down the barriers between town and countryside, it cannot unleash the buying power of its people—or keep its economy booming.

ON THE hilly streets of Chongqing, men with thick bamboo poles loiter for customers who will pay them to carry loads. The “stick men”, as they are called, hang the items from either end of the poles and heave them up over their shoulders. In a city where the Communist Party chief, Bo Xilai, likes to sing old revolutionary songs, these workers should be hymned as heroes. Yet few of them are even classed as citizens of the city where they live.

Most of the stick men were born in the countryside around Chongqing. (The name covers both the urban centre that served as China’s capital in the second world war, and a hinterland, the size of Scotland, which the city administers.) Since 1953, shortly after the Communists came to power, Chinese citizens have been divided into two strata, urban and rural, not according to where they live but on a hereditary basis. The stick men may have spent all their working lives on the streets of Chongqing, but their household registration papers call them “agricultural”.

The registration system (hukou, in Chinese) was originally intended to stop rural migrants flowing into the cities. Stick men were among the targets. In the early days of Communist rule in Chongqing the authorities rounded up thousands of “vagrants” and sent them to camps (vagrants, said Mao Zedong, “lack constructive qualities”). There they endured forced labour before being packed back to their villages.

201019fbc434Rapid industrial growth over the past three decades has required tearing down migration barriers to exploit the countryside’s huge labour surplus. Hukou, however, still counts for a lot, from access to education, health care and housing to compensation payouts. To be classified as a peasant often means being treated as a second-class citizen. Officials in recent years have frequently talked about “reforming” the system. They have made it easier to acquire urban citizenship, in smaller cities at least. But since late last year the official rhetoric has become more urgent. Policymakers have begun to worry that the country’s massive stimulus spending in response to the global financial crisis could run out of steam. Hukou reform, they believe, could boost rural-urban migration and with it the consumer spending China needs.

In early March 11 Chinese newspapers (it would have been 13, had not two bottled out) defied party strictures and teamed together to publish an extraordinary joint editorial. It called on China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), which was then about to hold its annual meeting, to urge the government to scrap the hukou system as soon as possible. “We hope”, it said, “that a bad policy we have suffered for decades will end with our generation, and allow the next generation to truly enjoy the sacred rights of freedom, democracy and equality bestowed by the constitution.” Not since the Tiananmen uprising in 1989 had so many newspapers simultaneously cast aside the restraints imposed by the Communist Party’s mighty Propaganda Department, which micromanages China’s media output.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

Socotra, South Sudan, and the Netherlands Antilles (Economist)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

[Editor's note: Grab bag of Natural Earth admin-2 and admin-0 map units in last week's Economist magazine.]

Republished from the Economist.

Socotra: A still-enchanted island
Will Yemen’s magical island manage to stay aloof?

MAROONED in pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa but tied to unruly Yemen 400km (250 miles) away, the archipelago of Socotra has a forbidding look. Scorching summer winds strand ships. So fierce is the constant gale that it has whipped beachfuls of blinding white sand into dunes hundreds of metres high that ride up the cliffs. Even in winter it is blisteringly hot. Rats, the sole occupants of one rocky islet, are so ravenous that seasonal fishermen sleep in their skiffs, afraid to languish ashore.

Yet Socotra, whose main island is the size of Majorca or Long Island, is one of the world’s last enchanted places. The 50,000 native Socotris, speaking four dialects of a singsong ancient language unintelligible to other Yemenis, subsist on fish, goats and not much else. But they inhabit a wildly varied landscape of surreal beauty. The sea teems with giant lobsters, turtles and leaping dolphins. A unique breed of civet cat roams the limestone plateaus that are seamed with gorges carved by rushing streams, and spiked by finger-like granite towers rising to 1,500 metres. The cats are just one among 700 native species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

South Sudan’s biggest ethnic group: On your tractor, if you can
The Dinka will decide whether Africa’s latest state-in-waiting fails or prospers

THE Anglican Bishop of Bor, Nathaniel Garang, sits under the little shade afforded by a thorn tree. His dusty compound has a few mud and straw huts, some plastic chairs, and goats reaching up to bare branches on their hind legs. The bishop is around 70, he guesses, and in reflective mood. He wears a small brass cross given to him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Entering Canterbury cathedral, he remarks, was a special moment in his life.

Mr Garang is a Dinka, the largest of south Sudan’s tribes. Specifically, he is a Bor Dinka (see map), the first of the Dinka groups to become Christian and be educated. Their historic missionary post, founded just upriver on the Nile in 1905, was burnt down during Sudan’s long civil war between the Arab and Muslim north and the Christian and animist south that ended only five years ago. The cathedral in Bor was also shot up, but still attracts several thousand worshippers.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

The Netherlands Antilles: The joy of six
Curaçao savours the prospect of autonomy

AS independence struggles go, the process of dismantling the federation of the Netherlands Antilles is about as orderly and peaceful as it gets. On 10-10-10 (October 10th 2010) Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius will go their separate ways—but only up to a point. Curaçao and St Maarten will become self-governing territories, following the example of Aruba, a sixth Dutch-speaking island in the Caribbean which broke away in 1986. But all will remain under the Dutch crown. The tiniest three islands—Saba, Bonaire and St Eustatius—will become overseas municipalities, with a similar status to towns in the Netherlands.

The attractions of autonomy are obvious in Curaçao (population: 142,000), the most populous island. It will take over government assets such as a large oil refinery and one of the Caribbean’s biggest dry docks, both in Willemstad, the capital, and the taxes from thriving tourist and offshore-banking industries. Generously, the Dutch will pay off 70% of the federation’s $3.3 billion debt. Local leaders have ambitious plans to develop new port facilities and hotels, and to modernise the dry dock.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

Maps of Mount Saint Helens, 30 years later +Tea Horse Road (NG)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

[Editor's note: Two great maps from this month's edition of National Geographic Magazine by Martin Gamache.]

Republished from National Geographic.
Click on each to view larger.

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