NASA has posted two news items that illustrate the large amounts of data that they are generating. NASA| The Data Downpour is a video describing how the GPM constellation turns observed radiances and reflectivities of global precipitation – falling snow and rain – into data products. They detail this huge task in “GPM Mission’s How-to Guide for Making Global Rain Maps“. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Precipitation Processing System (Greenbelt, Maryland) is tasked with compiling remote sensing data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The data set will eventually become one unified global data set. A simplified version of a very exacting process, as any geospatial professional will tell you. Continue reading
Massimo Vignelli continues to inspire cartographers, graphic designers, and artists with his New York City Transit Authority map standards. Artists, Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed, and Hamish Smyth found a first edition Graphic Standard Manual designed by Vignelli in a locker beneath some old gym clothes. According to an article in designTAXI, “Massimo Vignelli’s NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual Tweeted Page-By-Page“, the “The Standards Manual” project started on August 11 asks people to share the Standards Manual on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
It sounds like fun project and inspires its own question, “What other cartographic and geospatial manuals are gathering dust in old offices and on bookshelves that are worthy of being tweeted page-by-page?”
The diaries from sea voyages are thrilling, especially those that study marine biology. From the first entry setting down the base coordinates to later entries listing nautical miles traveled. Although they take place almost two hundred years apart, two sea voyages are available online this week, Darwin’s Beagle Library from Darwin’s voyage (1831) and Clean Our Oceans Refuge Coalition (COORC) Alguita Expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog article, “10 Maps that show how much time Americans spend grooming, eating, thinking, and praying” presents some crisp maps using data from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey. The article is an interesting introduction to regional geography, but it is sometimes jarring to find a website presenting spatial information that lends itself to interactive mapping as analog maps. After spending a few seconds clicking and rolling over states before realizing the data I wanted was presented in a table at the end of the article, the analog maps raised the important cartographic question of when to use an interactive map.
Interactive maps have become such an ubiquitous method for visualizing complex spatial information that geospatial professionals sometimes don’t ask if an interactive maps is always the best one. An article in a 2013 Journal of Spatial Information Science by Robert E. Roth explores the question of “Interactive maps: What we know and what we need to know“. According to Roth, “Cartographic interaction is defined as the dialog between a human and map,mediated through a computing device, and is essential to the research into interactive cartography, geovisualization, and geovisual analytics”.
An article in Scientific America, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” asks How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? but it could also explain why we sometimes expect a static, analog map to be interactive.
Massimo Vignelli, the Italian graphic designer who created the famous helvetica subway maps of New York City and Washington D.C, train stations in Italy, and other pared down cartographic designs, is gravely ill. Graphic design blogs such as Quartz, Creative Review, and Gizmodo are forwarding on a request by his son, Luca, Massimo Vignelli asking us to “Send a card to the man who put Helvetica on your subway map” A 2012 New York Times article, “The Subway Map that Rattled New Yorkers” describes the impact, controversy, and legacy that Vignelli’s System Map created, when it was revealed in 1972.
Vignelli has strong connections to cartography and design, among them, a long time friendship with Richard Saul Wurman, another New York City guidebook designer, whom he said was “on the cutting-edge side, where the fun is.” The documentary Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli describes the life and careers of Vignelli and his wife, designer Lella.
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The Guardian this week has a nostalgic reflection by Rachel Hewitt asking if this is “The end of the road for Ordnance Survey? Ordnance Survey paper maps are under threat from digital devices. Rachel Hewitt celebrates an ‘icon of England’ beloved by generations of hikers, poets and artists” Continue reading
Maps and Music are both powerful and together they can convey very complex emotions in a short span of time. The U.S. Library of Congress spent more than two years making “Songs of America“, a digital collection of over 80,000 curated recordings, sheet music, recordings and videos, interactive maps and more. Their goal is to explore America’s history through the prism of song. While the actual interactive maps that help navigate Songs of America are useful, it is the the illustrated song recordings where maps appear naturally in the context of American life and song using the Library of Congress collection that make a powerful combination.
The National Archives Blog, Transforming Classification: Blog of the Public Interest Declassification Board recently asked different listservs – “What records should the US Government prioritize for declassification?” They took suggestions from historians and the public in five categories: older records (25+ years), newer records (less than 25 years old), records relating to nuclear weapons policies (also called “FRD information”), records of general interest, and records from the various US Presidential Libraries. Continue reading
As you shiver in the cold today during what The Weather Channel is predicting could be the coldest winter on record for decades in North America, reflect on the 1780 snowstorm that hit George Washington’s army at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ, now a National Park that commemorates the Continental Army’s winter encampment (December 1779 – June 1780). Here the soldiers survived the tail end of what historians and paleoclimatologists dub, “the little ice age”. Continue reading
On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the U.S railroads from 1917 – 1920 in response to the infrastructure demands of WWI. While it only lasted four years, the nationalization and standardization needed for the war effort led to innovations in railway infrastructure and planning. Railways have always been closely tied with advances in cartography, mapping, and infrastructure.