Archive for the ‘Best practices’ Category

Review of new tome for map projections: Lining Up Data in ArcGIS (Vector One)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

lining-up-data-sm[Editor’s note: No PRJ file? No problem. Use this new guide by M. Maher from ESRI Press to learn map projection basics and the ArcGIS commands (versions 9 and 10) that register map data to common coordinate spaces. Read the first chapter and table of contents at ESRI.]

Republished from Vector One.

Lining Up Data in ArcGIS – a guide to map projections is a new book from ESRI Press. It is authored by Margaret M. Maher. Since I don’t have ArcGIS running in my office I couldn’t try out some of the details provided in the book, nevertheless, I did spend some time running through the book and offer the following comments.

One of the issues that many people encounter with GIS data revolves around projections, coordinates and lining up data with already existing spatial information. I’ve made the mistake myself numerous times, excited to get the data into the system, only to open the map window and finding what I just added from Berlin is placed in Oklahoma, Alberta or the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. How did that happen? Because I never lined up the data properly.

This book is very helpful. It explains how to identify geographic coordinate systems as compared to projected coordinate systems. If you are using ArcMap, then this book will show exactly how to determinine projections and set them. It even provides examples for going to ArcGIS Online, downloading imagery and aligning it properly.

Continue reading at Vector One . . .

“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 . . .

Value-by-Alpha Maps, Cartograms, and More (Cartogrammer)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

cartogramcube

[Editor’s note: Best practices on accounting for area-distortions normally present in conformal map projections by using cartograms and value-by-alpha alternatives. Check out the paper. Thanks ChartPorn!]

Republished from Cartogrammer.

The latest issue of the The Cartographic Journal (of the British Cartographic Society) contains a paper written by Robert Roth, me, and Zachary Johnson entitled “Value-by-alpha Maps: An Alternative Technique to the Cartogram.” The value-by-alpha map is something I have touched on here several times over the past year and a half (as has Zach on his blog), and about which I spoke at last year’s NACIS conference in Sacramento. With the publication of this paper, it’s high time I explained what it’s all about.

Value-by-alpha maps (hereafter shortened to VBA), like everything noble and good, have their roots in somebody complaining about something on the internet—me, about election cartograms. Seeking an alternative to what I think are ugly and unreadable election results cartograms, I worked with my Axis Maps dudes to create a 2008 U.S. election map that used transparency rather than size to vary the visual impact of map units, thinking that avoiding the distortion of these units into unrecognizable sizes and shapes would make the map easier to read.

Rob Roth, a stellar Ph.D. candidate and shameless county collector at Penn State (studying under The Beard himself, the illustrious Alan MacEachren) became interested in further developing the idea academically and enlisted my Axis Maps partner and radical raw milk zealot Zach Johnson (who wrote his master’s thesis on cartograms) and I to collaborate on the now-published Cartographic Journal article. We were all graduate students at Madison together once upon a time, and we make a good team—striking a perfect balance between study, practice, and chili-eating.

Enough backstory. I’ll summarize at moderate length the idea and what we wrote.

Continue reading at Cartogrammer . . .

Visualizing Urban Transportation II: Pays de la Loire (Xiaoji’s Design Weblog)

Friday, June 4th, 2010

[Editor's note: Nifty spatial data visualizations with bi-variate mapping by mode share and frequency. Nice shout out to Illustrator for final design work.]

Republished from Xiaoji’s Design Weblog.

Some more images from my project in the SENSEable City workshop.

Usage of public transportation v.s. population: Green dot sizes show online queries per unit population; Pink dot sizes show the scale of population. All queries sent through SNCF website www.destineo.fr, from Pays de la Loire, March 1 through March 31,2010. We can see different dependency on public transportation in each region.

The connection from Nantes to other cities of France: width of lines shows frequency of travels; transparency shows the proportion of such connection in all transportations carried by that city. All queries are sent from Nantes through the SNCF website www.destineo.fr, March 1 2010. Click to see complete graph.

Tools used: Processing, Illustrator

Natural Earth updated to version 1.2

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

This update introduces supplementary hydrography features in North America and Europe that quadruple (4x) the number of lakes and rivers there. Many thanks to Tom P. for generalizing the vectors and Preston M. for adding tapering to North America (absent in Europe). In some cases the basic 10m rivers and lakes were modified to fit the new information and that’s been refreshed, as well. The North America data comes from the CEC North America Environmental Atlas. The Europe data extract is kindly provided into the public domain by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), thanks Alfred J! Check out their original, higher resolution Europe data.

On the cultural front, North America gets roads and rails. General 10m detail roads and railroads come from the CEC North America Environmental Atlas. The supplementary roads are donated by XNR Productions and are at 1m scale, thanks Laura M. and Rob!

If you have data or time to contribute, especially to flesh out the new transportation and hydro themes, please contact me at nathaniel@naturalearthdata.com.

Note: We are not committing to building out supplementary level of detail in the rest of the world (we’re not THAT crazy!), but will incorporate such data if you contribute it. As always, we edit these data files but you should too before you publish maps using them. Feed us back corrections.

Download new or updated files »
(54.11 MB) version 1.2.0

(below) Rivers and lakes in North America. On the left the version 1.1 hydro features. On the right in color are the new, supplemental version 1.2 hydro features, 4x the density of features at the same 10m linework generalization.

northamerica_extra_10m_hydro

(below) Rivers and lakes in Europe. On the left the version 1.1 hydro features. On the right in color are the new, supplemental version 1.2 hydro features, 4x the density of features at the same 10m linework generalization.

europe_hydro_extra_10m

(below) Highways (red and blue) and ferry routes in North America.

northamerica_10m_roads_base

(below) Supplemental road detail in North America. Slightly different feature class scheme and data vintage.

northamerica_10m_roads_extra

(below) Railroads in North America.

northamerica_10m_railroads_base

Add a touch of style to your maps (Google Geo)

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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[Editor's note: Google takes a page from CloudMade's book and now allows  Maps API users to style the default map data, up to a limit. Demos at the Google link below, with live style editor with preview. Lots of opportunity to style the maps, kinda. The font still tips off the user it's Google map. Tiles are generated on the fly for the user on the Google servers, just as if the user was calling regular tiles. Dig in!]

Republished from Google Geo.

Google Maps are instantly familiar to millions of Internet users worldwide. The user interface and the look and feel of our maps combine to ensure that when a user sees a Google map on any web site, they instantly know how to interact with that map, and find their way around.

There is however an unavoidable consequence of this consistency. No matter which Maps API site you are on, every map looks the same. If you want your map to stand out from the crowd, your options are limited to customizing the markers and controls, and if your brand has a particular colour scheme that is reflected on your site, Google Maps may not sit well with it.

From today, this all changes. You are now free to unleash your creativity on the base Google map itself, as we are delighted to launch Styled Maps in the Google Maps API v3.

Styled Maps offers you control over both the types of features shown on your maps, and the color scheme used to represent them. The possibilities are endless, as the examples below show…

Continue reading at Google Geo . . .

Review: Geocart 3 (Kelso)

Friday, May 14th, 2010

geocart3icon

Once a required computer application in many cartography shops in the 1990s, Geocart has come back with a vengeance with Mapthematic’s 3.0 release (Mac and now Windows).

“If map projections are your problem, Geocart is your solution”

While most GIS and remote sensing map software support a couple dozen obligatory projections, Geocart supports over 175 general case projections. Map projections are mathematical formulas for converting the earth’s round shape to a flat surface and their “parameters” can be adjusted to form thousands of specific projections. For comparison, ArcGIS, the popular commercial geographic information system software from E.S.R.I. supports 1/3 as many projections; MaPublisher from Avenza supports 1/2 as many as Geocart.

The program’s author, daan Strebe, is a leading authority in this specialized subject and the new version incorporates corrections to many standard formula resulting in near loss-less projections. Unlike other software packages, Geocart can transform any projection to another projection (full forward and inverse transformation support for all projections). Other map applications can damage data when it is transformed. Furthermore, Geocart 3 introduces a new rendering mode using PixSlice technology to create a sharper, more detailed raster images (examples after the jump). This works both for resizing images and when transforming from one projection to another (reprojecting).

The application manual includes a handy decision tree to assist in what projection to use depending on the map’s topic and geographic coverage. The application includes innovative advanced tools  to visualize the distortion inherent in each projection (sample image).

Pricing: For lapsed users, upgrade pricing is available for $500 with new professional licenses running $860, discount for multiple purchases. Steeply discounted non-commercial and student licenses are available. Price includes map databases (36GB with the pro version!) and, importantly, the new version imports shapefiles, the defacto geodata format.

Full review continued below . . .

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Installation

I tested Geocart using the free, month-long trial (note the watermarks in the screenshots). Download and installation (once for the application, again for the default databases) went quickly but you will need an administrator account to accomplish the install. When the package downloads, it is labeled with your operating system type rather than “Geocart” so in my case I looked for “Mac OS 10.5/10.6″ in my downloads.

The app and included databases each weigh in about 150 mb for 300 Mb of disk space. Rather than collecting associated database files in the Applications folder (Program Files on Windows), they are installed in Library > Application Support > Mapthematics > Databases. If you want quick “template” access to frequently used data, it should be added in that location. The “add recent databases” command partly makes up for this.

Setting up a map document

To start mapping, go to File > New. Then go to Map > New. Multiple maps can be stored in a single Geocart document, each having their own projection parameters and database content.

When making a map, the first step is to determine how large the map dimensions will be and how much geography it will show. The relationship between the two is called map scale. Some databases, like Natural Earth, are set up based on map scales. Using the right database will result in prettier maps that are generalized appropriately (the linework doesn’t look too detailed or too coarse) and smaller files that are easier to work with.

Geocart also includes a useful linework simplification routine when your data is complex and needs to be simplified. This toggle is on by default and is accessed under Map > Generalize vectors. Toggle it on and off to compare the resulting resulting lines, your mileage will vary by map scale, even with the same source database.

Tip: The application takes map scale seriously and includes a tool to calibrate your system under Preferences > Display. This calibration functionality is absent to most other mapping packages.

To add data to the map

Each new map starts with “Stylized World Topo 5400×2700″ raster image in layered with a vector grid (Map > Graticule) in sinusoidal projection. With the map selected, go to Map > Databases. I was able to easily add in shapefiles from Natural Earth, some of which are included in the default databases. If you have existing Geocart 2 format databases, those will import directly, including typesetting databases.

Tip: To modify which databases load for each new map, go to Preferences > New Map Databases. I set mine to use Natural Earth country boundaries but removed the default image database.

Have a scanned map without a projection?

Geocart will help you figure it out. Add the map with File > Place image. (Vectors are not supported at this time). Then align with a map with a vector map database. Adjust the settings of the map until it matches. Then choose File > Export Database. Load the database back into a Geocart map and start projecting.

I was also able to add several map images and quickly georeference them and then deproject to geographic (platte carrée) or into another projection. One was a simple map of the ash plume in Europe in Mercator. The other was a complicated world wall map from National Geographic in Winkle Tripel (examples below).

Tip: When georeferencing an image, maximize both the map and the placed image to fit the window (Map > Scale to Window). Then adjust your Geocart map to use the same boundaries as the placed map image (make an educated guess). Then cycle thru the projections until the vector lines (graticule and country boundaries, etc) begin to match. Mercator and Robinson are common for world maps, a conic like Albers or Lambert is common for country and state maps. Then adjust the projection parameters and fine tune the boundaries and nominal scale and map resolution till everything fits exactly. Finally, export the placed image to database format.

Note: For raster maps that are georeferenced, the exported database file remains in the native projection of the image (it it not transformed to geographic). This does not affect your ability to reproject the image, however

Choose a projection

The familiar icons by projection class are still found in the main menu bar (see screenshot above). With a map selected on the document, choose a different projection (some are even listed in cyrilic and arabic!) and watch the map update in real time.

If you want assistance in choosing a projection (who can remember all their quirks!?), check out Projection > Change Projection. A dialog with the same listing comes up but with descriptions, history, preview maps, and distortion information. Gain insight with the programmer’s unique and comprehensive expert knowledge will help guide your projection choice. While the map is projecting, a progress wheel with a rough remaining time will show in the upper left corner. Advanced datum support and transformation are provided.

Tip: The manual includes a full decision tree for choosing a projection. This is one of the best features of Geocart.

I love interrupted projections like the Goode homolosine and making one in Geocart is a cinch. Simply choose the Goode from the Pseudocylindric menu (oval icon on left) and then chose Projection > Interruptions > Goode Continental. While you’re getting the projection parameters, map size and resolution right, keep the rendering quality at draft (Map > Draft). When the settings are right, change that to Map > Final Quality for more precise results.

All databases in Geocart are geographic with live, on-the-fly transformations into your map’s specified projecting (see exception above for georeferenced images). I added in coastlines, rivers, lakes, country boundaries, US state boundaries into my test vector map. Even on my slowest, older laptop, rendering was responsive for basic usage creating vector world, regional, and country maps.

Tip: If you somehow end up with a strange looking map (off center, etc), choose Projection > Reset Projection and the current projection parameters will revert to defaults

Tip: When using a conic projection like Albers or Lambert, make sure the Projection > Projection Center is set to Latitudinal 0°N.

Geocart 3.0 is a world unto itself, however. While it does import raw data in shapefile format (YES!), it does not currently import or export PRJ files, part of the SHP file specification, the defacto geo data storage and exchange format. Imported SHP files must be in geographic projection. This makes sense in part as Geocart supports many more projections and parameters than most other mapping software packages (3 times as many as ArcMap, 6 times as many as Natural Scene Designer, 2 times as many as MaPublisher and Geographic Imager). Geocart also sometimes uses slightly different formulas for the same projections as the other applications (the author claims Geocart’s implementations fix errors in common formulas, which is probably the case based on my experience with the literature and web source code snippits).

But for the projections that are shared in common, it would be useful to offer PRJ support (including transformations out of the error prone versions), and shapefile export of databases after their coordinates have been transformed (and GeoTIFF for raster).

More importantly, PRJ files offer a quick load of common projection parameters. So if I’m in California I can load up the Albers with the standardized parameters so my data will interoperate with other cartographers working in that area, and they take some of the guess work out of choosing a map projection. Both ArcMap and MaPublisher are better then Geocart in this regard. MapTiler thru Proj4 is the worst. Azimuth (r.i.p.) is the best at setting appropriate projection and parameter for the visible, selected geography.

Tip: If you do have a PRJ file, open it in a text editor and manually copy over the parameters to Geocart. They use a “well known text” structure that is human readable.

Legend editor (stylizing your map)

Geocart includes basic legend editor for setting line and fill styles, appropriate for general reference mapping. Geocart is a general projection tool, not for making thematic maps. The layer sorting of individual databases is adjustable in the Map > Databases dialog.

Tip: Consistent styles can be shared between map projects by going to Preferences > New Map Line Styles.

Testing the limits

Don’t want to plot the entire world? Use Map > Boundaries to set a crop (and speed up map rendering). This window is quite amazing and has both 2d and 3d views with actual spherical trapezoids! Boundaries can be set relative to the projection center and can be a circular diameter, spherical trapezoid, or irregularly shaped “custom” boundary. To remove the boundaries, change the setting back to “Unconstrained”.

Quibble: When adjusting boundaries in most conic projection, your standard parallels should also change. A prompt should be provided in this use case to automatically adjust those to your new view. In the special case of setting standard parallels in Projection > Parameters, it would be helpful if Geocart showed these on a map like in the Projection Center dialog.

Quibble: The draw on map interface in Boundaries needs a little more work for modifying the existing settings. Other apps, like Geographic Imager, allow me to drag the edges of a drawn boundary while in Geocart I have to start over (or use the number fields). It’s also a little wonky when dragging exactly horizontal or vertical (a full latitude or longitude strip). There are also no ticker buttons to increment the parameter values, either. Once you have this set, though, you’re golden so it’s a minor inconvenience.

Next: Rendering quality and speed . . .

nsd5pro_geocart3_rendering_b

Above: Brand X on the left. Geocart at right. Examine the letter forms (U in United Kingdom, N in London, all in Paris, the Ca in Cariff). The Geocart render results in sharper, crisper letter forms with less “pixel burrs”. The demo water mark not with standing.

Rendering quality

The key concept is Geocart creates an optimized map on each render. The original data resolution is stored in the document, but what draws on the screen is determined by the map size and resolution. Set that in Map > Set size and resolution. Once adjusted, the map will fill that space in the window. You can zoom in and out with the normal Cmd-+ and – keyboard shortcuts and the zoom with update in the window title.

When Geocart is set to render in Final mode, its output results in better output than applications that use only nearest neighbor or bicubic interpolation. In the example above, looking at the letter edges on London, the Geocart version is crisper and smoother. This also comes into play at the edges of a world map where the projection distortion is more extreme and is especially important with projecting raster data.

For my heavy-use scenario, I put Geocart up against the latest National Geographic world map

The map is in Winkel Tripel projection. I rasterized the PDF (took about 1 hour with Photoshop on my old laptop) and then loaded the image into Geocart and georeferenced it and saved it out as a database (78 mb, seems small), see section on Adding map data above. I then reprojected it Goode homolosine in Geocart. I also ripped out a platte carrée from Geocart and projected that into Goode in Geographic Imager, Natural Scene Designer, MapTiler (Proj4), and ArcMap.

The final projected Goode image dimensions was 22,700 pixels by 9,910 at 675 mb in TIFF image format. Enough detail to print back out as a wall map or tile for a web map service.

Geocart is built for speed and will utilize all processors, including multicore

Paul Messmer’s under the hood improvements allow the application to make 100% use of all processor cores. I was still able to use other applications while Geocart processed data, however. One side effect of supporting multiple cores is rendering occurs per core in real time, see screenshot below. Geocart also plays nice on idle.

sixteencores

I tested Geocart on 3 different machines, all Intel Macs running 10.5 or 10.6 from an older laptop to a new desktop towers. Application task completion speed increased directly proportional to the number of cores available.

Fun fact: Geocart uses a Hilbert curve to render the map when utilizing multiple cores to keep memory accesses as local as possible in order to make the best use of the processor caches. This results in seperate render traces on the screen, see image below.

quad_rendering_b

At best “final” settings, the huge map in Goode homolosine projection described above took 20 min on the 16 core Mac Pro (2 x 2.93 quad core GHz quad-core Intel Xeon with 8 gb of RAM) but 1 hour 20 minutes on an older 4 core Mac Pro with the same RAM configuration. The draft render took significantly less time and was comparable in time and quality to Natural Scene Designer, Geographic Imager, ArcMap, and MapTiler (Proj4).

Because Geocart is always planning for the most general case with the most advanced options, this can slow down it’s rendering compared to other applications (most noticeable when in Final rendering mode). Future versions might speed up if special functions were added for the standard parameter cases. But by the time the programmer did that, the speed difference might be equivalent to increases in hardware speed and cores, so this doesn’t worry me much.

Compared the competition

Geographic Imager ($699 for Adobe Photoshop plugin, add $699 if you don’t already own Photoshop) did not support the interrupted form of the projection and produced confetti until I tweeked the settings. To project vectors, you’d need MaPublisher, a vector plugin from Avenza for Adobe Illustrator, will set you back $1399 plus cost for Illustrator. ArcMap (thousands of dollars) required a RGB (not indexed) version of the geographic TIFF version but insisted on reprojecting into grayscale. Natural Scene Designer ($160) produced the most comparable raster results and ease of use, but at less quality (though faster). It should be noted the Pro version of Natural Scene Designer 5 also supports multiple cores and limited vector shapefile support (raster rendering only), plus better handling of GeoTIFF with TFW export. MapTiler, Mapnik, and other open source GIS options are free but you’ll spend time setting them up and learning their make-by-and-for-programmer quirks.

Visualizing Distortion

Geocart is a good teaching tool as well when using the distortion visualizations and mouseOver readouts (available under Window > Information). The pertinent readouts are Angular deformation, Areal inflation, Scaler distortion, and Scale factor range.

Note: Geocart quit on me once when I tried to use Map > Copy Attributes while visualizing distortion with a very large selected map, but I was not able to replicate the error or any crash in subsequent testing sessions. In general I’ve found the program to be very responsive and to not hang up, even when rendering extremely large maps with multiple databases.

Quibble: The Information panel should display how long it took to render the selected map.

Exporting

On exporting out your final map, vector (PDF) and raster (TIFF, PSB “Photoshop”, and JPG) formats are available. On opening the map in Illustrator, each database layer is conveniently grouped, with clipped content. Geocart could take a page out of IndieMapper’s layered SVG approach where the file format would still be PDF but the groups would be named and even better yet actual PDF layers.

Quibbles: Geocart suffers from the same zealous masking and embedding as other apps. If no boundaries have been defined in Geocart, the clipping masks should not be included. Saving out as PDF will embed the raster databases into the file, like all other programs. On export of the raster formats, an option should be provided to NOT export the vector database layers. Another option should be provided to export each raster database layer to a separate file (or layered TIFF / PSB). Needs to export out a PRJ file for the raster and GeoTIFF with embedded registration, pixel size, and projection tags.

Note: If you’re looking for SHP export, you’ll be disappointed. Though that’s kind of missing the point of Geocart. See “Choose a projection” section above.

Final word

Geocart 3 is a solid release that will satisfy most of your reference mapping needs, especially if projection matters to you. If you liked Geocart 2, you’ll definitely enjoy working with version 3, and on the latest computer hardware it simply screams. The addition of direct shapefile import removes a barrier to geodata access, though more could be made of the PRJ files and DBF attributes. There are still some missing features when compared to version 2 and daan (the programmer) is interested in hearing from the cartography community which should added back. They also seem responsive to fixing some of the usability issues I’ve noted above.

But where are those Kelso Corners, I ask? Besides being a personal soapbox, my blog is named for the “corners” that form when a pseudocylindric or lenticular projection is extended to fill out it’s rectangular bounding box by repeating content that would otherwise only be found on the opposite edge of the map. They are righteously awesome, plus they satisfy non-carto designers  proclivity to design to a boxy grid. However, you can only find these “corners” on a few old print maps; I don’t know of a single digital app that creates them. I’ve staked naming rights ;)

Pros: Over 175 projections (best in industry), support for advanced projection parameters, loss-less reprojection, PixSlice technology for sharper, more detailed raster images. Runs on both Windows and Mac, with support for multiple core processors. Now imports shapefile vector map data. Large document support. Easy to use. Software programmer responsive to emails and forum posts.

Cons: No PRJ support. Does not export GeoTIFF, or world file created after georeferencing images. Does not include a SHP filter in file dialogs, and file dialogs do not remember last browsed directory. Should start with blank new document on launch. Linework generalization engine filters just by Douglas-Peucker in this version, not the smooth bezier curves found in Geocart 2 or the amazing generalization found at MapShaper.org. Rendering in PixSlice can significantly increase render times. No support for scripting/automation. No export back to SHP format (especially with DBF attributes), useful for thematic mapping in a secondary GIS application.

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.

teahorseroad

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Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (Daniel Rosenberg + Anthony Grafton)

Friday, May 7th, 2010

9781568987637

[Editor’s note: I’ve had a couple weeks with this gorgeously illustrated book. The text if readable and informative, but best of all the authors reproduce the example artwork in the flow of their text allowing easy cross-examination (even if it means digging out your magnifying glass). Buy via Powells (they only have 3 left in stock!).]

Republished from Princeton Architectural Press.

What does history look like? How do you draw time?

From the most ancient images to the contemporary, the line has served as the central figure in the representation of time. The linear metaphor is ubiquitous in everyday visual representations of time—in almanacs, calendars, charts, and graphs of all sorts. Even our everyday speech is filled with talk of time having a “before” and an “after” or being “long” and “short.” The timeline is such a familiar part of our mental furniture that it is sometimes hard to remember that we invented it in the first place. And yet, in its modern form, the timeline is not even 250 years old. The story of what came before has never been fully told, until now.

Cartographies of Time is the first comprehensive history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. Authors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have crafted a lively history featuring fanciful characters and unexpected twists and turns. From medieval manuscripts to websites, Cartographies of Time features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways—curving, crossing, branching—defy conventional thinking about the form. A fifty-four-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Also included is the April 1912 Marconi North Atlantic Communication chart, which tracked ships, including the Titanic, at points in time rather than by their geographic location, alongside little-known works by famous figures, including a historical chronology by the mapmaker Gerardus Mercator and a chronological board game patented by Mark Twain. Presented in a lavishly illustrated edition, Cartographies of Time is a revelation to anyone interested in the role visual forms have played in our evolving conception of history.

Daniel Rosenberg is associate professor of history at the University of Oregon. He has published widely on history, theory, and art, and his work appears frequently in Cabinet magazine, where he is editor-at-large. With Susan Harding, he is editor of Histories of the Future.

Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books on European history and also writes on a wide variety of topics for the New Republic, American Scholar, the New York Review of Books, and the New Yorker.

Read more at Princeton Architectural Press . . .

UK election map and swingometer (Guardian)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: Cartograms (1, 2) are all the storm in the UK in the lead up to the general election later this month. I first noted them via the Financial Times’s print edition graphic and then came across this interactive version done by the Guardian (screenshot above). It combines the geography view typical in the US with a cartogram of the same. The cartogram does better at showing overall trends since each enumeration unit (election district) is the same size, where on the geography view some districts are super large and some (around London) are tiny as they are sized by area rather than population / electors. The Guardian’s online version has search function as well as mouse over and the geography view zooms in to reveal those tiny districts. What’s super amazing is the swingometer. It allows the user to see what would happen if the electorate “swings” towards one party or another both in numbers and on the maps. This would be fabulous to see in the US for our midterms. Quibbles with their map: I can’t click and drag in the geography view to move the map, nor can I click and drag the detail box in the UK context map in the geography view. Overall A+ effort. And yet another reason why Steve Jobs, bless his heart, is crazy for thinking HTML5 should be the only game in town. These types of maps excel in Flash’s compiled plugin runtime.]

Republished from the Guardian. Monday 5 April 2010.
By Mark McCormick, Jenny Ridley, Alastair Dant, Martin Shuttleworth

Browse the 2010 constituencies and use the three-way swingometer to see how different scenarios affect the outcome. This map is based on 2005 figures, notional or actual, and does not take account of byelection results. Full explanation here

Interact with the original at the Guardian . . .