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Mapmaking's "Best in Show"

 
 
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 06:58 am
I love maps and this one's a beauty. The story behind it is also interesting:

Quote:
American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore.

.......

By contrast, David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus—a 35-year veteran of cartography who’s designed every kind of map for every kind of client—did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It’s the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.


More about the map:
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/01/the_best_american_wall_map_david_imus_the_essential_geography_of_the_united_states_of_america_.html

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/12/indiemaps/111220_CBOX_imusMap.jpg

Do you think paper maps are and anachronism or do you still use them?
 
Green Witch
 
  3  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:04 am
@boomerang,
My GPS has tried to kill me numerous times, so I still have maps in my car. However, I do think they are going the way of the printed book. I don't think either the paper map or the book will disappear completely, but rather evolve back into an art form the way they were originally produced. Artists will create some for collectors, but the mass production forms will be replaced by technology.
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:10 am
There are many instances in which a "paper" map (the ones the military uses are not made of paper) is still the best option. You don't need a telephone cell or satellite link-up to make flat maps work, so they remain the best option for some military operations and for just about anyone who is into wilderness travel.
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:11 am
By the way, i always preferred relief maps (those which show the terrain features) to political maps. The Geological Survey maps the government produces are fantastic.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:20 am
@Green Witch,
I've said before that I thought books would become more beautiful as the e-readers gained in popularity but I'd never really considered how GPS would effect mapmaking.

I use mapquest from time to time but I've never even used a GPS. There have been several cases over the last few years of people going missing here (and dieing here) because of GPS misinformation. I would never hit the back country of Oregon without a paper map.

A lot of the criticism of this map is that it will be obsolete soon but I think that kind of influenced what he decided to include and not include in the map.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:24 am
@Setanta,
Do you think the ability to read a map will suffer as people become more reliant on technology to get them where they want to go? Will learning geography fall by the wayside?

For years we used a large map to cover the scarred surface of our dining room table. About a year ago I broke the glass that covered it, the map got messed up and I eventually threw it away. I'm inspired to order one of these maps and get a new piece of glass. Mo's always been good at geography and I think that map he saw every day had a lot to do with it.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:25 am
@Setanta,
Hiking maps are beautiful things! We have a book of them and they are really lovely.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:28 am
When i was a kid, and lived in Virginia, i used to go to the U. S. Geological Survey office in DC to look at their maps, and when i could afford it, to buy them. Then (1960s) the surveys had been done in the late 1930s. That doesn't mean the information wasn't up to date, just that the aerial survey photography had been done then. They had a big sheet map under glass on the counter, and you would select a small rectangle from that map, which only showed the largest terrain features. They'd bring out another sheet map which was 1:1250000, meaning one foot on the map was one million, two hundred fifty thousand feet on the ground. Now you could buy those maps, but this sheet map also only showed the biggest terrain features, and had a grid on it for you to select smaller scale maps. You could work your way down to 1:6250, which was like a county road map, or even 1:1250, which was the kind of map a hiker would use. That's roughly one foot on the map equals a quarter mile on the ground. So, for example, you'd need more than one of those to cover Mount Rainier. Maps at that scale showed individual buildings, as well as the roads and terrain features.

You can visit the Geological Survey's publication web site by clicking here.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:33 am
@boomerang,
I don't know. In the Army, we had a brief course in orienteering, which is the skill of finding your way on the ground by using a map. People who would become infantry officers had to take a pretty heavy-duty orienteering course. The problem so far, as i see it, is that a large sheet map cannot yet be replaced by an electronic screen, even one such as a notepad. The advantage of electronics is that you could use such a screen to show you maps of many different scales. The disadvantage would be lugging the equipment around, and having the data base. Images use up a lot of data storage, and the most effective way to take advantage of the technology would be a satellite link which would allow you access to the data without having to haul it around with you. I don't know the current state of the technological art, but i suspect that at certain levels, say regimental level or higher, they carry the necessary equipment with them. That wouldn't necessarily be the case with company or platoon level operations, though. No doubt it will only be a matter or time until they have that available for the use of officers commanding the smaller formations.

In my last post i linked the USGS publications section. Check them out, you might find just the map you're looking for from them. They ain't cheap, though.
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:52 am
@boomerang,
GPS' can be very flawed, especially if there is satellite interference. I like them to get oriented, but I also don't trust them outside of main roads. All technology makes us smart in someways and ignorant in others. I use on-line maps, just not paper ones so much. I think we will always need to the see topography of an area, even if it on a computer.

Old maps are great, even the most obsolete have value. How can you not love a map that shows where the sea monsters are:

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/old_map_1872.jpg
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 11:00 am
@Setanta,
What a cool website! I'm going to browse through those maps for sure. I think I'll be ordering one of these award winning maps but I'll also need a world map since we like to rotate them.

I remember my brother telling me about some army training (Ranger?) where they would parachute down into somewhere with nothing but a map and they would have to figure out where they were and how to get to a checkpoint in X amount of time.

You've made me wonder whether satellite navigation devices "ping" like cell phones do and thereby allow people to find your location.....
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 11:01 am
@Green Witch,
Technology certainly gives us access to more information but I'm not sure it makes us smarter!
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 11:30 am
I've always liked maps (one of my history papers was about maps and mapmaking during the times of the conquistadores) and usually use maps (only for town/city addresses I use GPS) because there are no technical problems reading them (and because I've been a navigation officer Embarrassed )

Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 12:01 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
When i was a kid, i used to make my own maps, of imaginary places. I liked drawing the hash marks to show hills, ridges and mountains, and the parallel lines along the coasts to show the deep water. I wasn't much interested in towns or other petty annoyances such as that.
georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 12:03 pm
There is an interesting set of connections between maps of all sorts and the GPS locating systems that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our lives. The GPS system in your car operates based on continuously derived GPS coordinates for the car and a stored "map" giving the earth coordinates of various streets, buildings and addresses. Perceived errors can arise from inaccuracies in the current GPS derived coordinates of the car, or (as is much more likely) errors in the coordinates of the features in the stored electronic "map" of the city or region.

A few decades ago, before the use of GPS systems became widespread, users of advanced inertial navigation systems in ships, aircraft & even space vehicles became aware of "errors" in the performance of these navigation systems that were ultimately traceable to cartographic errors in the maps and charts they were using. Widespread errors of up to 1/4 mile were found in the charted locations of cultural features (like buildings) and even some geographical features.

Since then there has ben a wholesale upgrade of charted data based on GPS and other improved earth measuring systems. It's a complex problem in that the earth isn't perfectly spherical and mapping any curved surface to a flat sheet of paper or screen involves complexity and approximation. Even today's charts are less accurate than the GPS locating tools we use to navigate.

Map making is indeed an art, and perfection has not yet been achieved.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 12:11 pm
@georgeob1,
A quarter of a mile? That's not bad. When George Anson lead his expedition against the Spanish in 1740, after they had rounded Cape Horn, they were trying to find the island of Juan Fernandez. In a conference with his officers, he reluctantly agreed to sail east. Then, a few days later, the lookout in the trestle trees said he could see the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. They came about and sailed west until they found Juan Fernandez. More than 200 men died of scurvy in his squadron thanks to that map error. One ship sailed into the sheltered waters of the island under the loom of the land, but then the breeze failed them. The men were too weak to man the longboats and tow her in. Dozens of men died of scurvy within site of the island before enough men who had already landed regained enough strength to pull out and tow the ship in.

We live a pretty coddled existance compared to people even a few centuries ago. Anson set sail with more than 2000 sailors and soldiers, in a squadron with six warships and two supply ships. He returned to England by circumnavigation a little over three years later with slightly more than 200 of the original complement (they hired Dutchmen in Cape Town to sail her home) in Centurion, the only surviving ship.

Of course, they took the Alcapulco treasure galleon, and brought back almost one and half million gold and silver coins, and roughly a half ton of silver ingots, not counting the other minor plunder they'd taken. The survivors were set up for life, literally.
georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 12:43 pm
@Setanta,
Great story. Again it involves the intersection of errors in locating one's position on earth and the effect of similar prior errors as reflected in available maps.

The early Spanish settlers in California discovered the San Francisco Bay only on an overland trip from nearby Monterey. They (and Francis Drake later on) missed finding the Golden Gate because (1) the mile long Golden Gate channel is about 20 degrees off the perpindicular from the coastline; and (2) there is very shallow shoal water offshore along the axis of the channel. Thus shoreline navigators weren't able to see the "slot" between the hills without first running aground. If you look at a map you will see that the Monterey Bay and the Monterey Peninsula are, in comparison, very unmistakable coastal features, and it was there the Spanish first settled.

The errors in our vintage 1975 maps were an embarrasment to surveyors who claimed greater accuracy than that. Until the advent of advanced inertial navigation systems positioning errors of 1 nautical mile were commonplace for ships and aircraft using celestial navigation over the ocean. Finding the goddam carrier was always a problem for naval aviators and without electronic aids (TACAN) we't have been lost most of he time. Even in the 1980s the early satellite navigation aids weren't much more accurate than traditional celestial techniques, and at high latitudes even they didn't work well - as I discovered in a February crossing of the Bearing Sea done in electronic silence (to evade detection).

0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 12:58 pm
@boomerang,
I love them too - and globes - I really would love a nice globe in a study or library - but alas I don't have a study or library.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 01:00 pm
@boomerang,
I use and love my gps - but I enjoy maps like the one pictured - I enjoy looking them over and reading the countries and crap about them. I love maps that also give stats and info about the countries and areas. And when driving (if I am the passenager on a long drive) - I like to follow the map even with the gps so I know what is around me.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 01:06 pm
@Linkat,
I recently bought one of these

http://www.amazon.ca/Geography-Coloring-Book-Wynn-Kapit/dp/0131014722

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qyxpLbI8L._SL500_AA300_.jpg


lots of fact-y stuff
0 Replies
 
 

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