Posts Tagged ‘map’

Wayfinding: Here, Even Icons Need IDs (Wash Post)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

[Editor's note: Maps are most useful when held in the hand and referenced while in a landscape. But sometimes it is hard to match the abstract map topology with what is literally just in front of us. Or maybe the map was left at home. Maps are best when combined with confirmatory signage (direct annotation) in the landscape itself. These signs should have prominent, frequent placement and be easy to read. Signage that is small and/or discrete is pointless.

This article from the Washington Post explores the National Park Service's proposal for better signage along the National Mall in the District, swarmed all year long with tourists who have no clue where they are or what they're looking at.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Monday, March 16, 2009; Page B01
Also see John Kelly’s blog post on signage in the Metro rail subways.

Park Service Wants Tourist-Friendly Signs for Mall Monuments

The two Belgian tourists paused on the pathway near the Washington Monument to answer a question.

Could they identify the towering white obelisk before them?

They examined their map. “We think, the Ellipse,” said Dien Haemhouts, 24, of Antwerp. Told their mistake, they laughed. “Ah, the Washington Monument,” Haemhouts said. “Okay.”

It was understandable. They had never been to Washington before. There was no sign nearby identifying the monument. And so the two tourists found themselves in the midst of a fresh debate: Do icons like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial need signs announcing what they are?

The National Park Service, which is about to install an extensive new system of signs on the Mall, says yes. Many foreign and American tourists have no clue what they’re looking at or what to expect when they arrive, the Park Service says. Officials say, for example, that they often get calls from the public asking if there is a Nordstrom on the Mall.

But some members of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which must approve the new sign system, as well as American tourists interviewed on a cold day last week, say no to such signs. “Just looking at it,” Minnie Glenn, 50, of Park Hall, Md., said of the monument. “It’s self-defining.”

The debate arises as the Mall is about to get a new $2.2 million sign system, funded by the federal government and the private Trust for the National Mall. Design research is underway, with a view to replacing the mishmash of signs on the Mall with a more uniform and user-friendly system that will probably use a series of color-coded pylons.

“There are hundreds of mismatched signs on the Mall,” Wayne Hunt, whose firm is researching the new system, told the arts commission last month at a meeting where proposed signs were reviewed. “The Lincoln Memorial has 44 mismatched signs.”

Across the Mall, there are signs with directions, signs with warnings, signs with rules. “Please Stay on the Sidewalks,” reads one at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “Quiet” is called for at the Lincoln Memorial. “No Guns or Ammunition,” says one near the Washington Monument.

When the question of formal signs came up, several commission members said signs seemed unnecessary and would be a blot on the landscape. “What does it say in front of the pyramids?” Pamela Nelson, vice chairman, wondered of Egypt’s famous tombs. “Is there a sign in front of the pyramids?”

Commission member Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk asked: “Do you need a sign in front of the Washington Monument? I don’t think so.”

In a letter to the Park Service, commission Secretary Thomas E. Luebke wrote that the commission “strongly discouraged the use of the monument-type sign to identify buildings and memorials on the National Mall.”

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Interactive Map: Immigration Explorer (NY Times)

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

[Editor's note: Part of their Remade in America series, this interactive map from the New York Times shows where select foreign-born groups have settled across the United States for the last 100 years. Find trends by ethnic group, zoom into individual states, query data values by county, and view historic data. Interactive leverages mapping toolset developed the last year at the Times for their impressive presidential election coverage. Thanks Geoff!]

Republished from The New York Times.
March 10, 2009. No credit given. 

Screenshots below. Interact with the Flash version at New York Times . . .

Related content: Times Topic |  Opinion blog | Diversity in the Classroom 

(below) All groups as percent of population (choropleth by area) 

(below) All groups as number of residents (graduated circles) 

(below) Default “All Countries” view can be changed to focus on a specific country of origin.  

 

(below) Focused on people born in China. 

Continue to interact with the Flash version at New York Times . . .

Sources: Social Explorer, www.socialexplorer.com; Minnesota Population Center; U.S. Census Bureau

No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else (NY Times)

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The “Butt” in this road, in South Yorkshire, probably refers to a container for collecting water.

[Editor's note: Amusing article about "off color" place names in Britain that have a long history. Thanks April!]

Republished from The New York Times. By SARAH LYALL. Published: January 22, 2009.

CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.

Disappointingly, Mr. Pearce has so far been unable to parlay such delicate encounters into material gain, as a neighbor once did.

“Crapstone,” the neighbor said forthrightly, Mr. Pearce related, whereupon the person on the other end of the telephone repeated it to his co-workers and burst out laughing. “They said, ‘Oh, wethought it didn’t really exist,’ ” Mr. Pearce said, “and then they gave him a free something.”

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.

As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.

“It’s pronounced ‘PENNIS-tun,’ ” Fiona Moran, manager of the Old Vicarage Hotel in Penistone, said over the telephone, rather sharply. When forced to spell her address for outsiders, she uses misdirection, separating the tricky section into two blameless parts: “p-e-n” — pause — “i-s-t-o-n-e.”

Several months ago, Lewes District Council in East Sussex tried to address the problem of inadvertent place-name titillation by saying that “street names which could give offense” would no longer be allowed on new roads.

“Avoid aesthetically unsuitable names,” like Gaswork Road, the council decreed. Also, avoid “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,” like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close.

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)

The council explained that it was only following national guidelines and that it did not intend to change any existing lewd names.

Still, news of the revised policy raised an outcry.

“Sniggering at double entendres is a loved and time-honored tradition in this country,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London. Ed Hurst, a co-author, with Rob Bailey, of “Rude Britain” and “Rude UK,” which list arguably offensive place names — some so arguably offensive that, unfortunately, they cannot be printed here — said that many such communities were established hundreds of years ago and that their names were not rude at the time.

“Place names and street names are full of history and culture, and it’s only because language has evolved over the centuries that they’ve wound up sounding rude,” Mr. Hurst said in an interview.

Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire.

The name most likely has to do with the spot’s historic function as a source of water, a water butt being a container for collecting water. But it proved to be prohibitively hilarious.

“If they ordered a pizza, the pizza company wouldn’t deliver it, because they thought it was a made-up name,” Mr. Hurst said. “People would stand in front of the sign, pull down their trousers and take pictures of each other’s naked buttocks.”

The couple moved away.

The people in Crapstone have not had similar problems, although their sign is periodically stolen by word-loving merrymakers. And their village became a stock joke a few years ago, when a television ad featuring a prone-to-swearing soccer player named Vinnie Jones showed Mr. Jones’s car breaking down just under the Crapstone sign.

In the commercial, Mr. Jones tries to alert the towing company to his location while covering the sign and trying not to say “crap” in front of his young daughter.

The consensus in the village is that there is a perfectly innocent reason for the name “Crapstone,” though it is unclear what that is. Theories put forth by various residents the other day included “place of the rocks,” “a kind of twisting of the original word,” “something to do with the soil” and “something to do with Sir Francis Drake,” who lived nearby.

Jacqui Anderson, a doctor in Crapstone who used to live in a village called Horrabridge, which has its own issues, said that she no longer thought about the “crap” in “Crapstone.”

Still, when strangers ask where she’s from, she admitted, “I just say I live near Plymouth.”

Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 2 (Kelso)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Follow along with Richard’s first hand narration of how historic events shaped the map, the cutting edge science involved in assembling the photographic base material, and the many explanatory notes included on the final design. The wall map is a piece of art, please enjoy :)

Please join me in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Race to the Moon! Map co-author Richard Furno has allowed me to turn his keynote presentation into a post on my blog illustrating the trials and tribulations of creating this fabulous wall map for the National Geographic Society’s magazine.

This is part 2. Return to Part 1. View zoomable map at National Geographic.

Orbitor 5 Recap

Orbiters 1 through 4 had covered much of the Far Side (shown in green) but much was still missing. Orbiter 5 devoted time to photographing the rest of the unknown part of the Far Side, and as a result, nearly all of the remaining area was taken. After the mission’s success, NASA announced it had all the photos that would cover the Moon. I called NASA to see if their Far Side map was finished, since we would use it for our relief artist so he could render the relief map.

1967: NASA’S Moon Map

But, in fact, NASA had produced only a partial map of the Far Side and had no intention to finish a complete map of the Moon before our scheduled publication. What’s more, I was told that the one partial map they HAD prepared was put together very quickly and they could guarantee that the positional control of features was poor.

(Above) This is the 1976 edition of the map of that 1967 map which was probably greatly improved. It covered from 50 degrees south to 50 degrees north only. Eventually they would finish the polar maps to complete it but that didn’t happen until 1970, more than a year after we published the Moon map. This meant we would have to create our own positional control (selenodetic control) of the Moon’s Far Side features.

Selenodetic Control

Dave is adjusting the globe, I’m moving the camera box and Vic is moving the light.

So we had to come up with another answer. Actually, it was natural for me to think of a scheme to solve the selenodetic control problem. I had learned and done technical perspective drafting for my architect father and I knew picture planes, station points, vanishing points, 2 and 3-point perspective, etc. inside out. As many know, rectification of photos is an exercise in perspective. Unfortunately, I had little time to do the control and we had no rectification equipment. The photos had to be quickly prepared for Tibor to use as he was rapidly finishing his relief of the Near Side.

We needed a large globe in order to reproduce the Orbiter / Moon configurations. It needed a latitude longitude grid preferably without other obscuring information. Well, there just happened to be a one-meter globe in old Hubbard Hall. On the globe, drawn in black ink by hand, was a 5° grid and the shorelines of the earth. With that in hand, we needed a platform to mount it and a slidable camera. Dave and I came in hammers and saws and literally built this contraption, sometimes making up the design as we went

The globe was mounted on a pair of rolling pins. A plumb bob hung from overhead that pointed to a center line drawn the length of a platform and which aligned with the globe’s center. A camera was mounted on a box so its focal point was half a meter above the platform and directly over a  camera swivel. It could then be pointed in different directions while keeping its position directly above the platform’s center line. The platform was long enough in scale so all pictures would be within the range of all the Orbiter photos.

The setup made it possible to roll the globe into any position. We had a hinged measuring stick in front of the globe, with a half meter tick mark so we could align three key points, 1) a designated latitude longitude point (nadir point), 2) the center of the globe and 3) the camera focal point.

Precision

Dave Cook uses proportional dividers to mark the correct latitude and longitude for the camera’s Nadir point. The point is then set on the plumb bob string.

To take a picture of the globe, we followed these steps:

  1. Place the latitude longitude nadir point at the half meter point (by measuring stick) and in line with the tangential plumb bob.
  2. Move the camera to the scaled distance from the plumb bob (putting it directly “above” the nadir point)
  3. Mark the latitude longitude aiming point on the globe (we use a dark X on a piece of masking tape)
  4. Swivel the camera to aim at the Orbiter’s aiming point

The camera recorded a large film plate for accuracy (8 x 6 inches I think) and so the aiming point was clearly visible in the back of the camera. Vic Boswell did a miraculous job of lighting so that the negatives would show the grid lines all the way around the globe. He took about 5 or 6 exposures to ensure a decent one. Vic and I yakked constantly about “foreign cars” back in the day when they were still exotic. He had restored a 1948 MG TC which he drove around on sunny days.

Tibor’s Relief


Tibor is shown working on Tsiolkovsky crater on the Far Side hemisphere.

True rectification means taking distorted photos and removing the distortion. In our case, I would take the photographed grid, draft it onto the Orbiter photo and give it Tibor. He had to rectify the 5° gridded portion of photo in is head by visually subdividing the distorted photo square and mentally transferring the terrain onto a corresponding Lambert Azimuthal square.

Some photos were quite relatively perfect but many were severely foreshortened. While we took these pictures, Tibor was busy drawing the relief for the Near Side of the Moon. I needed to start giving him source material so it would be ready when he started work on the Far Side. Tibor drafted on some sort of paper. Other plates for the map were produced on cronoflex.

Selenodetic Control II

Same photo with Tsiolkovsky crater and holding the clear gridded overlay.

After getting the developed negatives, I had to calculate the correct size for the overlay positive, a more difficult task than I expected. The Orbiter photos were pieced together in strips, often slightly off register. Trying to size by the arc radius could be a tricky affair, but that and a couple of known coordinates made it relatively straightforward.

In the photo below, the moon’s limb is in the particular Orbiter frame and could serve as a way of sizing the corresponding picture of our globe. Yet, with the strips slightly off, it was never that easy. Frames showing no edge of the moon meant aligning by known coordinate points was the only way. I had to order each negative in several different sizes and would inevitably find the one that lined up with two or more known coordinate points on the photo. And when known points were only those by extension across the far side, it meant errors could start to add up.

With the correct, registered positive in hand, I pierced through the overlay at grid intersections into the Orbiter photo. (Notice the spots on the overlay. There was a lightly inked shoreline drawn on the one-meter globe and it appeared on all photos along with the grid.)

Transfered Grid

I used “ships curves” to connect the points. The gut- killer was that there was nothing I could use to check my work. I had to work across the entire Far Side hoping everything would meet up correctly. Fortunately it did.

(more…)

Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 1 (Kelso)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Follow along with Richard’s first hand narration of how historic events shaped the map, the cutting edge science involved in assembling the photographic base material, and the many explanatory notes included on the final design. The wall map is a piece of art, please enjoy :)

Please join me in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Race to the Moon! Map co-author Richard Furno has allowed me to turn his keynote presentation into a post on my blog illustrating the trials and tribulations of creating this fabulous wall map for the National Geographic Society’s magazine.

This is part 1. Skip to part 2. View zoomable map at National Geographic.

My friend and cartography colleague Richard Furno retired from The Washington Post as of January 1st, 2009. He had a long and productive career first at National Geographic Maps starting in 1963 and afterwards for the newspaper making daily, deadline driven maps for publication in the next day’s newspaper from 1978 to 2008. He was a victim of a changing media landscape and dreery economic times. Read more about Richard Furno.

Richard has been a great mentor to me and we officially honored him last week in the NewsArt department. While he was at National Geographic, Richard worked on The Moon Map and I’d like to share it’s story with everyone around the globe. Because of it’s length, this blog post will be in 2 parts.

NOTE: You may also be interested in my photo essay on Toni Mair-Terrain Artist Extraordinaire.

The remainder of this post is taken directly from Dick’s Keynote presentation. Any references to “I” are in his first person, not mine. Photo and illustrations either (c) National Geographic or variety of  unnamed sources.

While I worked at the National Geographic, no map produced there was so closely tied to events occurring on the country’s and world’s political stage. With each of many developments — a new satellite, a capsule crash, an important space photo — our enthusiasm for or anticipation of actual publication of the Moon map was affected.

The principal author of the National Geographic’s Moon map was Dave Cook, not myself. The history below relates my involvement. Dave was virtually the sole designer. He was also the main researcher and writer of all the material on the map. He established contact with all the phenomenal people who took part in reviewing and editing the final map, many of whom were involved in NASA’s push to the Moon.

After the Moon map was finished, Dave went on to produce the Geographic’s Mars map showing the newly discovered topography as photographed by the spacecraft of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

When I finished this presentation, I sent it to Dave asking for his edits and urged that he make abundant additions of his own. He said it was “great” but didn’t take the time to add details of his own. I wish he had. This story is far from complete without his part.

Dave and I have been best of friends from 1963 to today and we continue to love astronomy and all things “space-programish”.

1959: Luna 3

In 1959, the Russians sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 into space that looped around the moon and took the first pictures of the… Far Side of the Moon.

There were many Russian space mission that jolted the citizens, and politicians, of the United States from Sputnik in 1957 well into the 1960′s. The Soviets seemed to be able to do anything in space that they chose. These were truly spectacular events.

At the time, the Soviets did not reveal the results of their space missions unless the Kremlin chose to do so. Much of what happened during their space effort wasn’t learned until after 1990. Their secrecy simply enhanced the U.S. drive to beat the Russians to the Moon.

Luna 3’s Far Side Photo

But the photos Luna 3 took were extremely disappointing (above). The right hand two-thirds of the photo is the Far Side of the Moon. The Russians made detailed maps out of this and a few other comparable photos, but they were simply attempts to apply a mass of Russian names to any and all possible features that they could discern. Eventually, only two features here are somewhat clear and their names have stuck. At bottom right is a dark crater with a bright central peak. They named it Tsiolkovsky. The dark patch toward the top was named the Sea of Moscow.

1959: Mercury Program Announced

America’s rollout of its first Mercury space capsule to the launch pad was literally an afterthought. When the US had its first test launch of a Mercury capsule, NASA hadn’t thought of a way to move it to the launch pad. Someone volunteered their flat bed truck. To prevent bumps on the road from being transferred to the capsule, a mattress was placed on the truck to act as a cushion (it’s just noticeable in the picture sandwiched between the capsule platform and the flat bed). Compare this jerry-rigged contraption with…

(Preview) Dec. 16, 1969: Apollo 13 Rollout

Ten years later in 1969 rocket technology had advanced (above). But let’s get back to our story…

1961: Alan Shepard Rockets into Space (Barely)

“Why don’t you light this candle?!!” Alan Shepard on the pad, May 5, 1961

Following the Soviet Union’s dramatic, first manned orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin, the U.S. sent Alan Shepard into space. But Shepard’s flight was suborbital, far less dramatic and a month later than Gagarin’s flight. It lasted 15 minutes, traveled 116 miles high and went 298 miles downrange.

1961: Quest for the Moon

With just those 15 minutes worth of experience in space, President Kennedy made a startling announcement.

May, 1961: President Kennedy Announced We Were Going to Land on the Moon within 8 years!

America was well behind Russia in its space program. The Russians were succeeding in their space missions at an alarming yet. Yet with nothing more that 15 minutes of manned spaceflight experience,  Kennedy made a speech before Congress proposing the moon landing. The speech followed this exploratory memo sent to Vice President Johnson asking if there was any kind of space effort in which the U.S could catch up and beat Russia. President Kennedy wanted to devote “maximum effort” to such a program.

After meeting with NASA administrator Jim Webb and NASA scientists, Johnson came back with their mutually agreed upon idea to go to the Moon. Kennedy then drafted his famous speech. I was still in college but I was getting interested in astronomy and this got me interested in the MOON.

(more…)

MAP: Obama Inauguration Ticket Holder Access (Wash Post)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

[Editor's note: This graphic in today's Washington Post shows those lucky few with an inauguration ticket how to get to their seat in front of the U.S. Capitol Building next Tuesday. Tickets are required for the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol. Entrance will be granted only at the screening gate indicated by the color-coded ticket. Map shows Screening Point (Metro Access ); Ticket Gate; and Entry Routes.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009. Related blog post here.

I have a related post on the parade route, general seating, and vendors.

Only 240,000 people will have access to the ticketed and seating areas closest to the Capitol to watch the inauguration ceremony. Here’s a look at the ticket design and where ticket holders should go Jan. 20, 2009.

Click image for larger view.

You Should Know:

Orange, Blue and Silver Ticket Holders

Ticket holders in any of the south sections (orange and blue) or the Mall standing areas (silver) should enter through gates on the south side of the Capitol grounds. Due to the closures of Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade, those coming from the north can access the south side of the Capitol grounds in one of several ways:

From the east or northeast: Go around the Capitol to the east using 2nd Street NE/SE (or streets farther east) to reach C Street SE and walk west to the blue, orange or silver gates.

From the north or northwest: Use the 3rd Street tunnel, entrance at 3rd and D streets NW near the Labor Department,  to cross under Pennsylvania Avenue and the Mall. One side of the tunnel will be closed for pedestrian use. This is the only way to cross the Mall near the Capitol.

If you have a Silver ticket, because of changes since tickets were printed, the only access point is at Independence Avenue and 3rd Street SW.

Yellow and Purple Tickets
Ticket holders in the north sections (yellow and purple tickets) should enter on the north side of the Capitol grounds. Guests must follow routes that do not require crossing Pennsylvania Avenue.

From the south or southwest: Use the 3rd Street tunnel to cross under the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue. One side of the tunnel will be closed for pedestrian use; this is the only way to cross the Mall near the Capitol. Or, walk around the Capitol to the east using 2nd Street SE/NE (or streets farther east) to reach the north side of the Capitol grounds.

Metro riders should be aware that trains might not be able to stop at stations that are deemed to be overcrowded for safety reasons. If this happens, get off at the next possible stop and walk back toward your designated station.

*In case of overcrowding, alternative stops include L’Enfant Plaza to the west and Eastern Market to the east.

SOURCE: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

BY APRIL UMMINGER AND  MARY KATE CANNISTRA — THE WASHINGTON POST

Gas Woe’s for Europe (Wash Post)

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

[Editor's note: Beautiful, compact map in Thursday's paper showing 4 main natural gas pipelines feeding Europe from Russia on a globe. I think this map is by Laris Karklis. He even has the Arctic Circle on there!]

Republished from The Washington Post. By Philip P. Pan. Thursday, January 8, 2009; Page A08

Economy, Politics Stoke Russia-Ukraine Gas Quarrel
Deliveries Halted To European Users As Feud Deepens 

MOSCOW, Jan. 7 — Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine have wrangled over fuel prices, with both sides holding a powerful bargaining chip. Russia has had the natural gas Ukraine needs to power its industries. Ukraine has owned the pipelines Russia depends on to transport the gas it sells to Europe.

The two have often engaged in brinkmanship, threatening to cut off deliveries. But they have never followed through on the threats for very long – until now.

A confluence of factors tied to the global economic crisis and political uncertainty in both countries have altered the dynamics of the annual dispute. For the first time, Russian gas deliveries to Europe through Ukraine came to a complete halt Wednesday, as the standoff between the two countries stretched into a seventh day.

Russia accused Ukraine of shutting down pipelines that deliver a fifth of the continent’s fuel, while Ukraine charged that Russia had simply stopped sending gas. With more than a dozen countries scrambling to maintain heat and electricity amid a bitter cold snap, the European Union urged both countries to accept international monitors to verify gas flows.

Direct talks were scheduled to resume Thursday, but analysts said progress would be difficult for the same mix of economic and political reasons that led the two nations to dig in this week instead of compromising, as they had done in years past.

With its economy in deep trouble, Ukraine has little to lose by using its control of European fuel shipments to resist Russia’s demand for a price increase. By contrast, Russia is suffering huge losses in immediate gas revenue and enormous damage to its reputation as an energy partner seeking European investment. Yet political considerations seem to have prevented the Kremlin from surrendering.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

It Ain’t Easy To Get A Newspaper To Provide Useful Data (TechDirt)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

[Editor's note: Interesting take on getting old media to get data friendly and generous: seeing the "value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper." Thanks Katharine!]

Republished from TechDirt. From the not-their-thing dept.

We’ve discussed in the past the idea that newspapers today need to get beyond reporting the news and also move towards opening up their data such that others can make that data useful. Newspapers have access to all sorts of interesting and useful data — but traditionally, they’ve hoarded it and only used it as a resource for editors and reporters in creating stories. However, by opening up that data to others, it could make those news organizations much more valuable. We’re seeing some movement in that direction, and recently noted that the NY Times had come out with an API for the campaign finance data it had. 

However, one thing that seems clear is that very few newspapers have the resources necessary to do this on a regular basis. The NY Times (and, to some extent, the Washington Post) seems to be willing to invest in this area, but for many newspapers, the entire concept seems foreign. Writing for OJR, Eric Ulken from the LA Times discusses how much effort it took to get the necessary resources just to build a homicide map to go along with a blogthat planned to chronicle every homicide in the LA area. If Ulken’s experience is any indication, it seems pretty clear that very, very few traditional news organizations are going to be able to pull this off. They’re just not set up to do such things. 

It seems increasingly clear that these types of innovations are more likely to come from newer news organizations who actually recognize the value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper.

MAPublisher 8.0 Adds Automatic Flash Map Creation (MacNN)

Monday, December 8th, 2008

[Editor's note: New version 8 of Avenza's MAPublisher brings CS4 compatability and new feature to export interactive Flash SWF versions of your map with viewable data attributes, layer, and pan/zoom controls. Thanks Curt!]

Republished from MacNN and Avenza.

Avenza Systems has released MAPublisher 8.0, the latest version of its cartographic plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. The update includes a new tool for automatic creation of interactive Flash maps. A MAP Vector Crop tool and dockable toolbar have also been added, along with support for Illustrator CS4. The company has improved the MAP views editor, MAP attributes interface, and the line simplification function. The import time is claimed to have been reduced by up to 80 percent.

The tool can be used to create maps based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, for high-resolution printing or electronic distribution. Many GIS data formats are supported, including ESRI, MapInfo, MicroStation, AutoCAD, Google, US Government, GML and S-57.

MAPublisher requires Illustrator CS2, CS3 or CS4, and can be purchased for $1250. Registered users of previous versions can upgrade for $550.

From the Avenza website:
More on the new MAP Web Author Tool for automatic creation of interactive Flash maps:
MAPublisher 8 introduces the MAP Web Author tool that exports Adobe Illustrator documents with GIS data to interactive Flash maps, fully completed with callout bubbles, rollovers, layer control, pan and zoom controls, and with all the underlying GIS attributes intact.
As with the other MAPublisher functions, MAP Web Author is a completely built-in to Adobe Illustrator. Therefore, users are not required to have Adobe Flash installed to benefit from this tool.

What is looks like at default. View larger

Several Customization Options. View larger.

MAP Web Author Panel. View larger.

Web Tag Template (HTML formatting of GIS attribute data for that object). View larger.


Web Tag Dialog. View larger.

Export to Web. View larger.

Map Reveals the Secrets Behind Place Names (Der Spiegel)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

[Editor's note: Got topophilia? If you, too, are in love with placenames and their deeper meanings, this pair of maps from Kalimedia is for you. Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Der Spiegel. By Charles Hawley on Nov. 20, 2008.

If you’ve got a date in New York, she’ll be waiting in New Wild Boar City, according to a new etymological map of the world.

It is difficult to find anyone these days who is not familiar with Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of orcs, hobbits and dwarves. A whole generation of film-goers is familiar with such place names like “Dead Marshes” and “Mount Doom.”

But this peculiar nomenclature isn’t unique to Middle Earth. In fact, such names are everywhere. In France, for example, youl’ll find the City of Boatmen. The Caucasus plays host to the Land of the Fire Keepers. And who hasn’t dreamed of vacationing in the Land of Calves? But to get to these places, you’ll need a new map, which should be hitting bookstores in the Great Land of the Tattooed — Great Britain — by the end of the month.

PHOTO GALLERY: AN ETYMOLOGIST’S VIEW OF THE WORLD


Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)

Called the “Atlas of True Names,” the new map traces the etymological roots of European and global place names and then translates them into English. The “City of Boatmen” is also known as Paris. Should you travel to the Land of the Fire Keepers, you’d find yourself in Azerbaijan. And Italy comes from the Latin word vitulus, which means “calf.”

“We wanted to let the Earth tells its own story,” Stephan Hormes, who produced the maps together with his wife Silke Peust, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “The names give you an insight into what the people saw when they first looked at a place, almost with the eyes of children. Through the maps, we wanted to show what they saw.”

Where Rough Grass Grows

Hormes and Peust, both cartographers, call their mini-company Kalimedia, and got their start last summer with German language versions of three maps — one of Germany, one of Europe and one of the world. Their product sold well, encouraging them to put out the two fold-out English maps now available. The first shipment is currently on the way to a distributor in the UK. A Spanish version and a French version are in the works.

Peust and Hormes did much of their etymological research by plowing through stodgy reference works and endless Web sites related to the origins of place names. “It is very interesting to read what people have found out,” Hormes says, “but you have to keep flipping the pages. I am a cartographer and it’s my job to put as much information as possible in a single image.”

The result looks exactly like what one has come to expect from a map — except that it’s not always easy to know what one is looking at. That dot on the East Coast of the US looks like it should be New York, but it’s labelled “New Wild Boar Village.” (York, in England, derives from the Old English eofor for wild boar and the Latin vicus, for village.) Up the coast into Canada, one finds “Remote Corner Where Rough Grass Grows” in place of Halifax. To keep map readers from thorough confusion, there is an index on the back with all place names, both current and etymological.

Hormes admits that the inspiration for the maps really does come from a childhood obsession with “The Lord of the Rings.” “The names (in Middle Earth) are so clear that every kid understands them,” he says, but once he and his wife began their research, “it became a trip through peoples and language.”

But Tolkien fans won’t be disappointed with the new maps. The Mediterranean, for example, is hard to miss in the “Atlas of True Names.” It’s called the Sea of the Middle Earth.

RELATED SPIEGEL ONLINE LINKS
Photo Gallery: An Etymologist’s View of the World

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
Kalimedia — Atlas of True Names