Monday, July 18, 2016

Fantasy Map of Damariscotta (a real place)

I made this fantasy map of Damariscotta, Maine, where I've spent a week each summer for the last 17 years. This map was done for a tutorial on manipulating maps in Photoshop. It's not much and I could have done more to it but I'm on vacation!
I added a few viking ships and a longhouse at the last minute to give it a little life. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Theoretical Nation States of Europe

I came across this map recently showing the possible sovereign nation states of Europe. The full map can be linked here.
http://vader.joemonster.org/upload/rvz/1508659487a77c9pl.jpg
There's lost of fine detail with most of today's countries being carved up into smaller units.
Even smaller states such as Latvia and Lithuania are subdivided.
The map extends far enough east to include the ethnic jumble of the Caucasus.
They were able to find capital cities for most places, even tiny little Morpeth in Northumberland, but nothing for Basque Country.
Of course a map like this is by nature subjective and bound to upset people, especially those fighting for or against independence. Here are a few things I wonder about:

  • Is England really that divided?
  • Is Ireland really that united?
  • When did Athlone become the capital of Ireland?
  • What country includes the midlands of England - is it really part of the Isle of Man?
  • Is Occitania really that different from France?
  • Seems like northern Italy is divided into the medieval city states but not the South.
  • I think there are biases towards and against certain countries here but I don't want to speculate too much not knowing much about the origin of this map.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Worst Wildfire in US History

The worst wildfire recorded in US History took place in Wisconsin and part of Michigan in 1871. The Great Peshtigo Fire burned 3.8 million acres and killed more at least 1,200 people and possibly as many as 2,500.* Some of them were boiled to death after trying to escape by jumping in rivers or lakes.
http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/chrisburt/peshtigo2.jpg
An area twice the size of Rhode Island was burned completely and 12 communities were destroyed. The map below (via Weather Underground) shows the origin and extent of the fire, wind direction and estimated number of deaths in each area. 
http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/chrisburt/peshtigo.jpg
The fire broke out in October after a very hot and dry summer. These conditions also helped set up numerous other fires in the region including the Great Chicago Fire - also the same week.
http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/chrisburt/michiganfire.jpg
Though the fire is largely forgotten it has its own museum in Pehtigo, Wisconsin - with some nice public art.

 * An accurate death toll has never been determined because many records were destroyed by the fire.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

India Wants to Punish Cartographic Aggressors

This map via geocurrents shows India's disputed lands. 
A draft law in India aims to punish cartographers who do not include the claimed territories as part of the country. From the Washington Post:
Let's start with a basic fact: India claims much more land than it controls.

Thus, any map of India and its neighbors makes an inherently political statement based on how it depicts their borders. The issue is particularly thorny because the border disputes are with India's great rivals: Pakistan and China.
The law would punish offenders with up to seven years of jail time and fines running from $150,000 to $15 million. That's a high price to pay for trying to represent reality.

A few years ago Al Jazeera was banned for five days after showing a map that depicted Jammu and Kashmir as being divided between India, Pakistan and China. The media company was denounced for "cartographic aggression."

So how do the online map providers deal with these situations? A GIS Lounge article shows three different Google representations of the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh, depending whether you are in India, China or the rest of the world (the last image.) While the rest of the world sees two parallel dashed lines, users in China and India see the border the way their governments want them to see it.


https://www.gislounge.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/World11.jpg
Apple maps (here in the United States) represents this border with two thin, unshaded lines. Note that there is another set of these along the Bhutan-China border. Last summer those two countries held their 23rd round of talks on this border.
Maps can be weapons.Be careful how you use them! I'll finish this with this nicely done map of Chinese "Intrusions" into India. I'm sure China has a different word for this. Click here for source.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_UR6_hWgyQjQ/R4F0h7YXuMI/AAAAAAAAAI0/kV2ZQVezikI/s1600/Neighbours-large_918.jpg


Monday, June 27, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut

David Joseph Wrisley, an English professor at American University of Beirut has compiled a set of maps in an attempt to document the language diversity of Beirut. Arabic is the official language of Lebanon but a law determines "cases in which the French language may be used.” These maps show signs and are color coded by the language of each sign.
Unfortunately the color scheme does not lend itself well to seeing geographic patterns, if there are any. The French color is much too similar to some of the English colors. A trivariate color scheme like the map below might work better, though for dots I would go with stronger colors. Choose a primary color for each language and let them blend together where they mix.
http://i.stack.imgur.com/HmE2P.gif
If the point is that there is no pattern then his color scheme is as good as any. Here is an embedded version of the map. You can pan, zoom and click each point to see a picture of the sign. One final recommendation would be to allow the full screen option. The small map windows are tough to navigate.
Numerals used in signs, with only two choices, shows more of a pattern. Western Arabic numerals are in blue (0 1 2 3...) while Eastern Arabic or Arabic-Indic numerals are in orange (٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩)
Another interesting map is the vernacular map, showing the locations data collectors named when taking the pictures. This was done in response to some articles discussing Beirut's lack of addressing and how people navigate by informal landmarks, many of which no longer exist.
http://llb.djwrisley.com/?page_id=52

You can read more about the project and see more maps on Wrisley's project page.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Whistler's Map

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was one of the most influential artists of the 19th Century. His best known work is his portrait of his Mother. Lesser known is his map of Anacapa Island in southern California.
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/whistler_etching/images/anacapa_island_etching.jpg
Whistler was briefly employed in the cartographic section of the US Coast Survey where he learned to etch. He thought the Anacapa map looked dull so he added two flocks of gulls flying over the rocky cliffs.
His unconventional works habits led to his dismissal only three months into the job. These unapproved artistic flourishes may have contributed to the early demise of his cartographic career.

The National Archives holds three prints of his maps. More info about the Anacapa Island map can be found on their website.