Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Google Zeitgeist-the most popular searches of 2010

Google Zeitgeist reviews the most popular search terms of 2010. You can pick a country and see the most popular searches by month and the most searched personalities (some muppet named Justin Bieber tops most of the lists.) For the United States you can choose a city and see the most popular searches (university web mail servers are huge.)
Of course the best part is the interactive map.

You see how frequently some of the major stories of the year were queried by month with bar charts for each country. You can also play an animation for the entire year and compare up to three stories.

Also, you can choose a subject or person and get a map showing interest by state. Here is the Justin Bieber popularity map. Pardon the hideous plate carree (or something similar) projection. Happy New Year Justin-Virginia loves you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Map of the Week-Census Preview

Last week the New York Times put out this nice interactive map showing some of the latest data released from the Census Bureau. The dot maps are the most interesting. They nicely illustrate patterns of race:

and income:

The entire country is covered so you can zoom, pan or choose a location. If you zoom too far in you lose the patterns a bit and also get some misleading information because each dot represents multiple people, not individual households.

 To really see the patterns of segregation, zoom out.

Here's a larger city with a more diverse breakdown.

The income map reveals the inner city income holes that are prevalent in older cities like Baltimore, but less so in Washington D.C. where there is much more inner city wealth.

If you zoom out a ways the dots seem to follow county boundaries. Zooming in arranges them in a more realistic pattern. I'm not sure what algorithm produces that result.

Happy Holidays and may your next year be filled with new census maps!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

States and Provinces Auto-Completed

The auto-correct feature on smart phones can be really annoying but if it didn't exist we wouldn't be able to waste our workday looking at Damn You Auto Correct!

Google has a slightly different feature called autocomplete based on web searches. Here is a map of the United States showing google's autocomplete suggestions - via Very Small Array.

Too bad the gratuitous topography makes it hard to read at this scale but if you click the map you'll get a readable version. There are at least five unfortunate states, that do not even contain google's autocorrect suggestion. See if you can figure them out.

Here's Canada, courtesy of the GIS User blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Books and Exhibit

I will now proceed to discuss two books I have not read yet and one exhibit I haven't been to yet. After all, this is the internet where you just say stuff!

The Hand Drawn Map Association (HDMA) has a book out entitled From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association.

Those of you in the Philadelphia area can see a parallel exhibit of their maps called No where at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.

The exhibit only goes until December 19th so hurry up!

Here are some maps in the exhibit lifted from Kris Harzinski's website. Harzinski is the founder of the HDMA and an artist from the semi-hip Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Perry Steindel, Untitled, 1965.

Scott Griffith, Window map of Anchorage, 2010.

Mapping America is a follow up to the Mapping New York book featured previously. Once again Black Dog Publishing is offering a 40% discount for readers of this blog. For the discount send an e-mail to Jess Atkins

Here are some sample images.

Detail from a pictorial Wildlife and Game map from 1956.

"Dissected Map of the United States" by Rev. E. J. Clemens, 1893. This is the box of a jigsaw puzzle meant to teach geography. The American figure is handing out pieces to grateful representatives of various foreign countries. On the back is an ad for Sherwin Williams paint.

Finally, I will leave you with this heart-warming image- "States United", a poster by Greg Beauchamp, 2009.

I like the legend at the bottom of the poster.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Comic of the Week-Zippy Tackles Maps!

Sunday's Zippy features Bill Griffith's absurdist take on maps. The first frame features a nice wall map of Griffith's native Long Island. Click for a readable version.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The World of Juan Nunez Guirado

Juan Nunez Guirado is an illustrator based in Spain who sent me a link to his work. Here is his world view.

He's done some nice pictorial maps and illustrations of various places in Spain. Here are some from Barcelona.

For a more detailed view, some soothing music and many more maps visit his website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mapping Gothic France

My brother discovered the Mapping Gothic France website at a lecture. The site is dense with interactivity. The main interface allows you to overlay various historic maps with your choice of current base maps, click on churches and buildings and connect to more information than you can possibly absorb in one viewing.

Like a chef you can mix and match your ingredients as you see fit-below you can see King Philip II invading Normandy over a tasty layer of road map.

There are timelines, links to authors, stories and essays and lots of information about churches. Each church has its own page with images 360 degree panoramas and stereoscopic views (though I could not get those to load) that require 3D glasses. For dessert, some screen shots from a panel that allows you to select churches and compare images and floor plans.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Map of the Weekend-Cape Shot

It's the weekend. Time to find your favorite map shot glass and drink a toast!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nicaraguan "Invasion" caused by Google Maps - or maybe not.

Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica because of an error on Google Maps! At least that's the story being tossed around the internet in articles like this one and in Wired. Of course like many stories, the truth appears to be more complicated and less satirical. Ogle Earth has an excellent summary of the border dispute. Here are some basics:
  • The eastern part of the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica is the San Juan River. 
  • The south bank (and sometimes east) of the river belongs to Costa Rica. The river belongs to Nicaragua but Costa Rica is allowed to use it for commerce.
  • Google maps incorrectly shows the border deviating from the river course giving a part of the Isla Calero to Nicaragua. Bing is basically correct although the alignment between the border and the river is poor.
  • In late October, Nicaraguan troops occupied a part of this land and began clearing the forest and dredging the river channel.
  • Costa Rica no longer has an official military to defend their land.
  • The official map that each country provided to the International Court of Justice both show the same border-along the river's main channel.
  • After the fact, the Nicaraguan government discovered the google error and used it to justify the troop incursion- from this article(translated.)
  • Nicaragua also uses historical changes in the course of the river channel to justify their claims

Here is a map of the area claimed by Nicaragua from Managua's La Prensa. The red line is claimed to have been the course of the river in 1897 when US President Grover Cleveland arbitrated a more detailed boundary (than the 1888 settlement) for this area.

However, the UN Settlement includes this map and contradicts Nicaragua's claim. The settlement clearly states that the boundary follows the main branch of the river and not the Taura Branch as claimed by Nicaragua.

Still, if you want to blame google maps go ahead - join the crowd!
UPDATE: Brandon T. sent me this video from newsy about the border dispute. Thanks!

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What I do for a Living-Part 1

Things are really busy for me this week. We have a big infrastructure evaluation project that I need to map and analyze every which way. Since I don't really have the time for an interesting, well researched post, here are some storm drainage pipes somewhere in Massachusetts. This is what I do in my non-spare time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mapping Municipal Inequity

The Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities uses GIS map overlays to demonstrate patterns of municipal discrimination against minority and low income residents. They began working in North Carolina with neighborhoods that were either targeted with undesirable projects such as highway bypasses or were ignored when building water or sewer services.

The map below is from Moore County in south central North Carolina. The brown area is Jackson Hamlet, a predominantly African American community. The red lines show the boundaries of the affluent golfing and retirement communities of Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Southern Pines. The dark lines are sewer mains.

Jackson Hamlet is surrounded but excluded from these areas meaning that they do not have sewer or garbage service from any of those towns and must rely on the county sheriff for police protection, rather than on the closer municipal police stations.

While the three towns have annexed land in other directions, they have all avoided Jackson Hamlet and demographically similar communities. The residents of these places have relied on septic systems, private trash haulers and/or burning garbage while in some cases watching the garbage trucks cut through their streets to get to the neighboring, more affluent towns.

In recent years the Institute has expanded its work nationwide. They helped residents outside of Zanesville, Ohio win almost $11 million in damages for years of unsuccessful requests for municipal water service. While the city expanded water service to newer, further away developments, African American residents in the Coal Run neighborhood were required to haul water from the water plant or pump it from contaminated wells.

This map shows how water lines were built to specifically serve the white residents of the neighborhood and played a vital role in the settlement.

The images above and some of the material came from an excellent article in Miller-McCune.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cigarette Card Maps

Cigarette manufacturers began including cards in their packages in the mid to late 1800's. Issuing cards in a series enticed buyers to stick with the same brand. The cards showed popular actors, sports figures, animals, plants and a host of other subjects including maps.

The New York Public Library has a large collection of these cards viewable from their Digital Gallery.

Churchman's Cigarettes produced a "How to Make a Map" series for boy scouts. Here are some of their cards with the text that appears on the back.

 "Scouts should first practice observation, and notice all the landmarks (such as hills, churches, trees, rocks, gates and bridges), so that, if necessary, they may draw an accurate map of the surrounding country. The four points of the compass should always be put in, and it is a very great convenience when a map can be, as nearly as possible, drawn to scale."

"It is a difficult matter for a scout to accurately draw a map of water, This, however needs only a little practice and a perfect knowledge of the different signs agreed upon to represent the different boats. The specimen given at the recto is a very good one, showing a very complete map of a village in the vicinity of water. The letters P. T. signify that the village possesses both post and telegraph office."

Gallagher, LTD also issued a "How to Make a Map" card. Here is the front and back of the card.

Map Reading Class was also a card subject.

Some cards depicted airline routes. Here is the route from England to South Africa.

Finally, a "Map of London and the Home Counties" was cut into pieces to be collected and reassembled. Here are two matching pieces.

No. 4. Digital ID: 1610435. New York Public LibraryNo. 3. Digital ID: 1610433. New York Public Library

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I am a Very Slow Reader-Part 2

I'm not only a slow reader, but slow to pick up on "new" things.
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet has been out for over a year but I only discovered it over the summer as one of the staff picks at the Maine Coast Bookshop.  Two things drew me in; one, the staff picks at this store have never let me down and two, it's a book about a cartographer!

The book is very enjoyable, however I find parts of it to be a bit of a reach. A 12 year old cartographer maybe, but one with such maturity and depth of knowledge (including an expertise in entomology) just seems a bit of a reach. Perhaps if Reif Larsen had made him 14 or 15 I might find this story easier to believe. The basic plot of the book is that a 12 year old prodigy who lives on a ranch in Montana named Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is invited to the Smithsonian, unknown to his parents, to accept an award for his scientific work. The book is illustrated with some beautiful maps and illustrations, apparently these were an afterthought to the book.

Here is his map of the ranch in Montana. I could not find the original image online so I took this German version (note the building names) from the Fischerverlage publishing site.

T. S. Spivet's obsession with diagramming everything he sees, from the way his sister shucks corn, to male pattern baldness is borderline annoying but it makes for some fun marginalia. The map that begins Chapter 10, shows a large U.S. City and slightly gives away a bit of plot ahead of time if you recognize this street pattern.

 Even if you don't recognize this place chances are very high that if you're riding a train across the country you will get there as will the plot. The image above is from the Boston Globe review.

Overall, this is a clever and unique book that is an entertaining read for anyone, regardless of your knowledge of cartography, entomology or male pattern baldness.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is Map of the Week?

Today is the fifth anniversary of Map of the Week! Sort of. Actually it's more complicated than that as most things are. An exact anniversary date is tough to pin down so today is as good as any. Here's the boring history lesson:

Map of the Week started in or around 1993 when I shared a house in Lawrence, Kansas with fellow graduate student, frequent commenter and Renaissance blogger Michael5000. We started putting maps of the week on the kitchen wall (or maybe fridge I can't remember everything from those crazy college days.)  They were not exotic or special - just maps that we felt like posting and the practice didn't stick for very long because we had homework and life to attend to.

When I accepted a job in Seattle, a place I'd never been, I drew this mental map based on my limited knowledge and probably posted it as a final map of the week. The map suffers from the classic "figure ground" problem-the water looks like land and vice versa. The original is on yellow paper, printed on the back of a lost dog notice.

On occasion I would send Mr. 5000 maps in the US mail that I found to be noteworthy. Here is a map from a charity newsletter of a project they did in Moncton, New Brunswick. I clipped out the charity's name to spare them the embarrassment as they do some very good work.

The map is pretty tough to read from my poor copy but basically they didn't know where Moncton or New Brunswick were so they just plopped it right in the middle of the country. That's OK - Canada's a small place!

Years later (around 2004 or so) I decided to revive Map of the Week as a weekly e-mail with a map attached. Five years ago today I started keeping track of what map I posted on what date with an eye towards a possible blog. I finally created the blog in 2007 and began by back posting all my entries beginning October 5th, 2005. As of today the blog has reached over 150 countries!

Map of the Week will try to continue to bring a quality blog product every week, with the occasional extra map of the weekend or other special event. Map of the Week will not advertise your book, or map products but if something looks interesting, I may post it without the sales pitch. Thanks to all my readers for years of support!