Day 2 we hit some fantastic spots around St. Louis. Hit the link below to find out more!
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting, spatially relevant article on regulation and standardization of place names and the disappearing apostrophe in U.S. signage, “Theres a Question Mark Hanging Over the Apostrophes Future: Its Practically Against the Law to Use the Mark in a Places Name; Sorry, Pikes Peak.” Read the title again to catch the humor that Barry Newman uses to construct a brief history of place signage.
He states that the U.S. is the only country that standardized out apostrophes because they were seen as conveying private ownership of a public place. The USGS Board on Geographic Names set up in 1890 by President Harrison has eradicated around 250,000 apostrophes from federal maps. In contrast, the Apostrophe Protection Society kept the Mid Devon council in England from banning the use of apostrophes in street signs. According to an in-depth article on the loss of the apostrophe and the history of Fell’s Point or Fells Point, Maryland, “What’s the Point?” from the Underbelly: From the Deepest Corners of the Maryland Historical Society Library, only five natural features have official license to use the possessive apostrophe in 2013.
The quoted arguments for the apostrophe is that it is part of proper English language usage, that it connotes information about the history of a place, and that not using them can cause confusion and miscommunication. What is most interesting about the WSJ article is who isn’t quoted – cartographers. How do cartographers feel about the vanishing apostrophe in place names?
Today is 449th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday and also according to History.com, the anniversary of his death day. There are may Talk Like Shakespeare activities to choose from worldwide including Talk Like Shakespeare by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS with maps of the different scenes and their deaths, and a plethora of Shakespeare lore. King’s College London English undergraduates have created the Early Modern city map to provide context for Shakespeare’s plays. The Kennedy Center created an interactive map on the life and legacy of William Shakespeare.
There are many 3D versions of the Globe Theatre in Trimble 3D Warehouse Search, while Flowing Data demonstrates how to use visualization to understand Shakespeare. The Folger Library has a literal approach to visualizing what Shakespeare is describing, such as Falstaff’s favorite bar, Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap. A September 2012 blog post by the Shakespeare Blog discusses “Mapping Shakespeare’s Imagined World” and how his writing reflects concerns about real life property and land ownership at the time.
There are many different resources for celebrating Shakespeare that naturally tie in with geography, cartography, and geospatial analysis and visualization. Happy Shakespeare Day!
April 15, 2013 is Tax Day in the U.S. when state and federal taxes are due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax offices. By it’s very nature, taxation is highly geospatial. According to an article on the history of U.S. property tax in The Assessment Journal, property taxation has existed in the U.S. in basically the same form since colonial days because of “the relative ease with which land and buildings can be located and identified, and their stability over time”. It continues to be the largest single source of autonomous local revenue for most cities and towns. President Lincoln passed the Revenue Act of 1861, during the Civil War Congress, but it wasn’t official until the Revenue Act of 1913 was signed by President Woodrow Wilson on Oct. 3, 1913 as part of the 16h Amendment, making the Internal Revenue Code 100 years old.
While being a property tax assessor is still a field work heavy job, in the past several years, many local municipalities are moving towards interactive maps, computer assisted mass appraisal for property taxes and online tax maps. Residents have come to expect to be able to access tax parcel viewers, but moving to an online system, like many municipal projects, takes time and money. Many county assessors are becoming expected to have GIS skills and training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics most appraisers and assessors have an associate or bachelor’s degree, must be certified by their state, and earn about $50,000/yr. In 1913, an assessors salary couldn’t exceed five cents for every $1,000 appraised, according to A Treatise on the Federal Income Tax under the Act of 1913.
The ZSL London Zoo‘s annual census of every zoo animal as part of their zoo license renewal is an example of how to turn a seemingly routine geospatial task into international news. The media and public discuss the event in a way that evokes the celebration of an annual holiday like Ground Hog’s day. While the zoo keepers use clipboards to count each animal in the field, it is logged into the International Species Information System (ISIS) software to manage international breeding programs for endangered animals from zoos around the world. ZSL London Zoo participates in breeding programs for 130 species. An interactive map on the ZSL London Zoo website gives visitors an idea of the animals being counted during the census. It is a great way to highlight the work of everyone involved and introduce them to aspects of zoo management beyond watching animals.
The Zoological Society of London opened the London Zoo as the world’s first scientific zoo in 1828 and continues to add new technology, innovations, and discoveries as they develop.They award a scientific medal, like the one awarded to Prof. Simon Hay for his work investigating the spatial and temporal aspects of mosquito born disease epidemiology and manages the Malaria Atlas Project to improve cartography of malaria. It is one of several different divisions that fall under the Zoological Society’s umbrella including the Whipsnade Zoo and the ZSL Institute of Zoology. The Zoological Society utilizes geospatial professionals in capacities from Dr. Chris Yesson‘s work on phyloclimatic modeling and classes in GIS to field scientists using remote sensing data donated by GeoEye for gorilla conservation. The ZSL created the EDGE Evolutionary Distinct & Globally Endangered program as a global conservation effort to protect species with unique evolutionary history using Google Earth to create awareness and interest. The ZSL encourages partnerships, collaborations, and opportunities for citizen science and volunteers on their website.
I was told by my local Hallmark Store that this is the last year that Hallmark will be making the Barbie series of ornaments including the Geography Teacher Barbie Ornament. It is called the Student Teacher Barbie Ornament but she is carrying a geography textbook, has a map pointer, and it comes with a globe background (circa 1965).
If you are more of a do it yourself ornament maker, Maps.com has directions for an origami globe ornament,which would be good as a project any time of the year. If anyone has used the smashed orange to teach map projections, as recommended in many geographical literacy toolkits, this would be another good activity.
The Wall Street Journal today has an article on map auctions coming up in December titled, “Here be Dragons – and Map Lovers“. The maps, globes, and other cartographic items they list sell for several thousand to several million dollars. One collector says that he spends up to 10% of his income on map collecting. According to the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. most map collectors start out by collecting themed maps such as a specific geographic region, historical time period, or even type of cartographic style. Geographaphicus, an antique map blog, says that one of the most frequent questions they get asked is how to determine if a map is authentic or a fake. This is a problem for collectors and also a staple plot device for literary novels and movies.
Antique maps have always made GIS users whistful and there are many requests on-line for how-tos on making a GIS map have more of the cartographic effect of an antique one, such as this post by James Fee from 2006 on creating historic map effects. The Yale Map Library has a dated but thorough document on how to do Classic Cartographic Techniques in ArcMap. The real question is though, how will online and interactive maps stand up to antiquity? Will collectors be bidding on printed out versions of the maps we make today?
The Observer Arts & Media section has an interesting review of several upcoming books and exhibits that discuss the continued power of maps and cartography. Vanessa Thorpe’s article, “From Shopping to warfare, why maps shape our minds as well as our planet” provides a review Simon Garfield’s new book On The Map, Jerry Brotton’s new book A History of the World in Twelve Maps, and an upcoming exhibition of globes at the Royal Geographical Society in London. She succinctly discusses how cartography helps to shape commerce and politics from ancient times until today.
What I found most interesting were the World Views at the end of the article because of the way they were truncated. The history of mapping jumps from Atlas Maior (1665) to Google Maps (21st Century). It made me ask myself, “Is Google Maps really the biggest cartographic world view of the 21st century?” and “What would I think of as significant between 1665-today?” It raises many interesting questions for geographers to discuss.
Like a good maze, the connection between mazes and cartography might not be self-evident on first glance but from then on it seems obvious. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “This Is Amazing: Maker of Puzzle Finds Few Wanting to Try It: Creating the Largest Hand-Drawn Maze Presents Challenges; Dead Ends, Pancakes” by John Miller interviews Joe Wos, Director of the ToonSeum, a Pittsburgh cartoon museum, and creator of the world’s largest hand drawn maze – almost. It can’t be made official until someone actually solves it.
One person who declined the challenge is maze expert Adrian Fisher, the world’s leading maze designer, 600 mazes (43 of them mirror mazes) in 30 countries, and holistic city planner. He applies his spatial skills to physical mazes, labyrinths, landscape design, town planning and development, transport map concepts, and inventions such as the Mitre Tiling system and the 7-sided Fisher Paver system. According to the website, MirrorMaze, some of his designs are large enough to be seen on Google Earth.
In her book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, landscape author Rebecca Solnit writes that ““A labyrinth is a symbolic journey or a map of the route to salvation, but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.” However, functionally, a maze and a map both give a bird’s eye view of the world and involve similar geographic ideas. Dr. Joseph J. Kerski, USGS takes this concept further in his article, “Corn Mazes are Maps” for the Fall 2011 Connecticut Geospatial Newsletter. He believes that corn mazes allows people to experience scale, relative and absolute location, land use, and other foundations of geography. In fact, the USGS published a 2012 handout on ” Ten Lessons for Teaching Geography Using Corn Mazes“.
A geographer might never look at their local corn maze, garden maze, or contemplation labyrinth the same after realizing the spatial connections between a maze and a map.
Thinkgeek has a “Wonderland Transit Map” t-shirt, although they do add the caveat that static maps would probably be useless in the amorphous Wonderland. It got me searching for t-shirts for fictional places that would be equally as useless for navigation.
I found a t-shirt for Neil Gaiman‘s “Neverwhere” which is a story set in a London Underground that is always changing. Of course, Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld is another constantly changing world, where maps don’t help. A t-shirt map of Garrison Keillor‘s Lake Wobegon, a town so small it doesn’t need a map. I couldn’t find a t-shirt but Catan from the Settler’s of Catan would be another place that a static map would be useless.