Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Map of the Week- Pumpkins!

Denis Wood, an artist and cartographer has co-written several books on mapping, most notably "The Power of Maps" and "Making Maps." Since the 1970's he has been working on a "narrative atlas" of Boylan Heights, his neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. While the atlas has not been published, there are excerpts on the "Making Maps" blog. One of the most well known of these is his jack-o-lantern map.

The map shows the locations of jack-o-lanterns using an image of each one. The lack of any other detail challenges the idea of this being a map. The author aims to break down boundaries between mapping and art and to focus on the patterns rather than on the specific locations that would be apparent if the streets were included.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There's a Map of the Week for That

OK - I screwed up this post a bit. I will leave the original post intact but see the correction section at the end.

Verizon has blitzed the TV and print media with their clever "There's a map for that" advertisements. Given the ease of manipulating this type of map, I'm surprised that this ad has gone virtually unchallenged so far. Does Verizon's map color in any area of reception regardless of how spotty? Are the map projections the same? Does the red vs blue scheme imply some kind of secret Republican bias on the part of Verizon?
I wasted way too much time on a somewhat extensive web search and found nothing out there that challenges this ad. Here is a screenshot from the ad.

Here's a look at AT&T's "coverage viewer" map - it tells a slightly different story.

Both carriers, Verizon and AT&T have interactive coverage maps. You can zoom down to street level to see your local coverage. However, if you live in any urbanized area you're likely to see nothing but a sea of color. Both of these pages have very similar disclaimers. Here's part of AT&T's.
"Map may include areas served by unaffiliated carriers, and may depict their licensed area rather than an approximation of their coverage. Actual coverage area may differ substantially from map graphics, and coverage may be affected by such things as terrain, weather, foliage, buildings and other construction, signal strength, customer equipment and other factors. AT&T does not guarantee coverage"
Sounds like lots of gray areas that can go either way depending on whose map you're making.

The obvious lesson in all of this-don't believe everything you see in advertisements-or maps.

Or on this blog (See below)!!!!!

So, as anonymous commenter pointed out, the AT&T map I show above from their website is a "Voice & Data" map, not 3G. As are both of the coverage viewers that I linked to above. You can get a 3G map from AT&T but it's very tricky-if you really want it look for instructions in the comments. The map you will find is actually pretty similar to the map shown in the ad.

What's the difference? Is it just speed or are there things you can't do with "Voice & Data?" I don't know enough about this stuff to speculate.

So if I've unfairly portrayed Verizon as a bunch of liars, sorry about that. However, I am still very skeptical about their own coverage map and the entire premise of the ad. As the Verizon disclaimer says:

"This does not show exact coverage. Wireless service is subject to network and transmission limitations, particularly near boundaries and in remote areas"

If you want maps that are better than the blurry ones in the ads, see the Verizon 3G page.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It was 45 years ago today (last month)

At a yard sale in Pennsylvania we found a nice collection of vintage records and teen magazines from the 1960's. The sellers were big Beatles fans who saw them on tour and collected magazines that featured the band.

I picked up the October/November 1964 issue of "teen talk" for 50 cents. The original newsstand price was 35 cents. Issued on the eve of the first major U.S. Beatles tour*, there were lots of articles about the Fab Four and other British Invasion bands. Also included was a map of the tour.

* This magazine probably hit the stores well before October 1964 - the tour dates (August-September 1964) are mentioned in the future tense.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Map of the Week- The Ski Train

We spent part of a rainy Adirondack Saturday at the North Creek Depot Museum. The museum has some Theodore Roosevelt history and lots of interesting ski industry relics including gondolas, tow lift ropes and skis. It also has a great model of the Upper Hudson River Railroad and, of course, maps. Here is a 1948 map of the trails from the depot to the slopes.

People would pay $2 to ride the Ski Train to North Creek. They could start skiing right from the depot or pay 50 cents for a truck or taxi ride up one of the slopes. Gore Mountain was not yet built as a ski resort so skiers used this network of trails, most of which have since been abandoned.
Unfortunately they did not have copies for sale so I only have this low resolution image courtesy of the Albany Times Union.

While digging around for that map I also found this statewide scenic railroad map online.

The nice thing is that they've brought together all the tourist railroads and museums onto one page and map. The map itself could use some work. For, one thing it would have been easy to make the cute railroad signs into links. The overemphasis on New York's tourist regions is also a bit distracting. Long Island is missing but if they don't have scenic railroads there then I can live with that. Some of the cities are poorly located and Troy is missing - that's just not right!