Tuesday, 7 April 2015

BCS President's Bulletin March 2015


This year sees the 200th Anniversary of William Smith’s first Geological Map of England, Wales and part of Scotland, an event that was launched at the London headquarters of the Geological Society on March 23rd and attended by Sir David Attenborough. Known as ‘Strata Smith’ and ‘the Father of Geology’, Smith’s map is one of those truly iconic items in cartography. It is a ‘First’ that has set the standard for what has followed over the subsequent 200 years. A work of beauty, as well as being ground-breaking in the field of geology, the map has very much survived the test of time and has now been given a very modern twist on its own William Smith Bicentennial website www.strata-smith.com, where you can view an interactive 3D model that combines Smith’s original cartography with both modern cartography and technology. His accuracy, given the rudimentary tools of the day, takes your breath away. As Sir David mentioned, "Thinking in three dimensions is a remarkable ability. I know because I haven't got it."

This year also sees the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt as well as several centenary commemorations for battles of the First World War. The Historical Military Mapping Group of the BCS is heading across the Channel in April to visit Amiens and some of the venues in northern France that still evoke so many memories. Over 30 people have signed up and convener John Peaty is still looking for help in running this Special Interest Group.

The selection of papers and workshops for the BCS Symposium in York has now been made and the programme will be published shortly, with details available on the BCS website. We had a very good level of submissions this year covering a wide range of topics and hopefully there will be something of interest for everyone. As this is the March bulletin and the last one before the Awards close here is one final reminder that the usual BCS Awards close at the end of April and if you are planning on submitting an entry then time is running out. Full details of the Awards and how to enter for them are on the website, http://www.cartography.org.uk/default.asp?contentID=579. Now why did I say “usual”? If you have been following our twitter feeds, especially @Mappooch, the Awards Officer, you will already have spotted that we will be presenting a one-off Award this year sponsored by Google. The UK General Election is one of the most mapped events in the political calendar and with what promises to be a very closely contested and complicated election, just how well will these maps convey the final outcome? Well, now is your chance to impress the judges by producing a map of the General Election Result. Whilst paper maps are eligible for submission, preference will be given to online mapping with an emphasis on clarity and accuracy, with a deadline for submission of 30th June. Full details may be found in the Awards section on the website.



Cartography on the Internet

There have been several articles in the press recently about driverless cars, with most correspondents expressing concerns over safety on the road. One major implication of this technology was highlighted in a recent article in The Washington Post, the fact that the navigation systems for these cars will have to be much more accurate than those on current sat navs. The maps that appear on smart phones and sat navs are designed in part to replicate their paper equivalent and give the driver an easily recognisable symbolic representation of the real world. When the driver has been taken out of the equation to a large extent, and the car is doing the navigating as well as the driving, then directions and distances will be need to be much more accurate. Complex junctions will need to be mapped in far greater deal in order that we don’t have carnage on the roads. The technology of driverless cars for the mass market is still some way off but the mapping world will need to keep pace if it does become a reality http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/09/what-maps-will-look-like-when-we-need-cars-to-read-them/.


The New London Architecture (NLA) galleries at The Building Centre in Store Street, London is going to be worth a visit at some point in the future to see the 3D Map of London that has been commissioned by New London Architecture and sponsored by OS. A combination of OS data and 3D modelling of the London skyline has created an interactive experience involving projection systems, son et lumière displays, and one touch, tablet technology that will bring London’s development story to life. Anything that can be mapped or animated can be overlaid onto the physical model – ranging from underground lines, geographic areas or features, historic growth and boundaries, to people movements and clusters of buildings http://ow.ly/K8AhV.




When we compare the relative size of items we try to use easily recognizable base measures. So ‘five times the size of a football pitch’ is something that most people, especially football fans will be able to relate to. For some reason, when it come to countries the comparison ‘x times the size of Wales’ is often used, although I must admit that my mental map of the precise size of Wales is not that well developed. Another way of comparing relative sizes is to make a composite and this has been used successfully to show just how big Africa is, by how many other countries can fit inside its outline. A new take on this is US States and their equivalent Country by area, a simple but very effective illustration
http://twitter.com/BSB Humanities/status/575911491716661249/photo/1.

Size comparisons ‘off planet’ are even more intriguing and comprise some of the examples in ‘40 maps that explain outer space’ by Joseph Stromberg. It is a mix of maps and infographics that illustrate very clearly the huge distances we sometimes fail to get to grips with and the fact that the Earth is a very small element of our solar system. I particularly like number 25 in the series and number 40 made me stop and think http://egu.eu/5QMXP0.

Place names can be fraught with issues for the map maker especially in areas of contested territory where to use one form of name implies legitimacy for a particular claimant. But there is also the lighter side and the example that was recently featured shows a sense of humour and, as the article says, ‘a typically passive-aggressive Canadian way of giving someone the finger’. I also heard on the radio at the weekend that the England football starting 11 against Italy last week all had a town that is the same as their surname in the US. http://io9.com/the-historical-snub-hidden-in-canadas-map-1691972438.



A 400 year old tapestry map of Worcestershire is being prepared for display at the new Weston Library in Oxford. The University of Oxford's Weston Library opened on 21st March as a new model for research libraries worldwide and the public showcase for Bodleian treasures. The map was made in the 1590s for a landowner called Ralph Sheldon, whose own grand house at Weston, near Long Compton, bristling with towers and Tudor chimneys, is represented as the size of a small town. It has been in the Bodleian, part of one of the largest map collections in the world, since it was bequeathed in 1809 with a companion map of Oxfordshire to keep it company.
The Bodleian has been desperately short of space since it opened its doors in 1602, and never had a wall big enough to display the map. It therefore spent a century in store in Oxford, and then another century in borrowed storage space at the V&A in London. Now it finally gets to see the light of day again http://gu.com/p/46ztn.




Featured in Maplines a little while ago, Bellerby Globemakers has now made the next step up to the Mail Online and BBC’s The One Show. As a bowling alley boss I guess there is some similarity between the bowling balls and globes, but it was a big leap for Peter Bellerby moving from managing a bowling alley to starting his own globe company. Based in Stoke Newington and using similar technology to Formula 1 for some elements, the business produces hand-crafted globes that sell around the world. However, Bellerby's maps are alterations of other cartographers' works for the entrepreneur says he simply has neither the staff nor the time to run a cartography business too, but the decorations on his globes have made them highly desirable http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2461456/Bellerby--Co-globemakers-Amazing-hand-globes-worth-59-000-Britain.html. You can also follow them on Twitter @globemakers.

Special Interest Groups

The longest standing of our Special Interest Groups and frequently holding the most well attended events is the Map Curators’ Group or MCG as it is generally known. The Group is for librarians, curators, map historians and map collectors. A newsletter, Cartographiti, is issued up to 4 times a year; an annual workshop and specialist visit is arranged in September to run alongside the main BCS Symposium. Despite the reduction in the number of University map libraries the group remains very relevant in today’s digital age and has held workshops on topics that cover the whole range of library holdings, how to look after collections and what the implications of the digital age are for map libraries and collections. The convener is Ann Sutherland who was granted Honorary Fellowship of the Society in recognition of her huge contribution as Convener of the group for longer than I have been a member of BCS. A biennial event is The Helen Wallis lecture, delivered as part of the BCS symposium.

And finally




Chris Durso of Foodiggity has started a project with his son entitled ‘The Foodnited States of America’, a photo series recreating every single U.S. State out of food. http://news.distractify.com/pinar/foodnited-states-of-america/ As I lived there for a while I can really understand Pretzelvania.







 Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog

6th April 2015

E-mail: peter.jones991@mod.uk

Twitter: @geomapnut

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

President's Bulletin for February 2015

Last month we announced the joint event with the Society of Cartographers in York, in September, and preparations are now well under way for this. The “Call for Contributions” has been issued and closes on 20th March. We have called it a “Call for Contributions” rather than a “Call for Papers” as we are looking for a variety of formats this year. If you have a Paper that you would like to propose then we would love to hear from you or, equally, if you would like to run a more interactive Workshop, then please submit your proposal via http://www.soc.org.uk/socbcs2015/. The topics for this year are:
·    Neo-Cartography
·    3D Mapping
·    Mapping Yorkshire
·    Military Mapping
·    OpenSource Projects
·    Maps on Apps
·    Hand drawn maps
·    Planning for Change (Transport, Urban, Green)
·    An Open Category – “What’s New” – anything else mappy, new and innovative


A very important element of the BCS Symposium is the Annual Awards Ceremony, which is part of the Gala Dinner celebrations. These Awards recognise excellence in cartography in all its forms ranging from traditional paper maps to mapping apps on smartphones. Entries are open until 30th April, so if you have produced a great map since 1st May 2014 then please submit it for the Awards and if you have seen a great looking map then please encourage the producer to send it in. We accept entries from all over the globe as long as they have been produced in the last 12 months – for full details of the Awards, the Rules (Updated Rules for the John C Bartholomew Award) and how to enter, please visit http://www.cartography.org.uk/default.asp?contentID=579. Last year the overall BCS Award winner was showcased in Stanfords window in London, so if you would like to see your map there as well then you only have a few weeks left to enter.



Cartography on the Web

As the BBC reported, “The Times History of the World in Maps” has recently been published and if you enjoyed the BCS 50th Anniversary book, then this will be a “must have” purchase. Lavishly illustrated, it stretches from documents containing maps produced by ancient civilisations all the way through to the modern day. One of my favourites is the oval map of the battle of Gettysburg. Clear and simple, despite being a static representation of a battle that raged over three days, it manages to convey the terrain that was to play such a key role in the outcome:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30840318





It amazes me the number of times you hear about the “death of the paper map” and then

shortly afterwards about its “resurrection”. Recent press reports confirm that sales of OS paper maps have risen recently with 2014 figures showing sales up by 3%. A few thousand miles away in Cuba, the paper map is very much alive and well. With a growing tourist industry, designer Stephan Van Dam has designed paper maps specifically with the tourist in mind for a country where internet access is by no means readily available – about 5% of the island is covered. So if you turn up in Havana with your map app, you may we in for a bit of a rude awakening. http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/02/in-cuba-maps-make-a-comeback/385089/


Forget all the debate about ‘becksploitation’ and worry instead about what could be happening to the London Underground Map this year. The handy pocket tube map, loved by many and collected by a fair few as well, is set to undergo some major changes in 2015 and with TFL taking over services and the growth of Crossrail, is the current format of the pocket map going to be too small to cope? Londonist has an intriguing video outlining the changes and the way that they could be incorporated. http://londonist.com/2015/02/the-new-tube-map-what-will-it-look-like.php 





Loads of map related links on this site http://www.jonathancrowe.net/maps/ and the reason I chose it was for the piece on mapping anniversaries. Google Maps is 10 years old this year and in a relatively short space of time has done a great job by raising awareness of the importance of mapping in a digital age. Whilst we may have been critical of its style and portrayal in the early days, its inclusion last year as one of MapCarte’s 365 notable maps shows that it has truly “come of age”. Having been around a little longer, and still as powerful and popular as ever, National Geographic celebrates its Centenary in 2015 http://news-beta.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/150123-maps-mapping-cartography-history-national-geographic-centennial/.

Ordnance Survey has recently undergone some significant changes, announcing plans to become a Government Owned Company or GovCo, redesigning its logo and just into March finally announcing its new Chief Executive. With the news that Nigel Clifford has been appointed as the new CE still relatively hot off the press, most column inches and twitter debate was devoted to the rebranding exercise which seemed to divide opinion. It also spawned a parody Twitter account “British Survey” which is irreverently funny and has made me smile on a number of occasions.

Special Interest Groups


This month I am spotlighting the Historical Military Mapping Special Interest Group, which does very much what it says on the can. This SIG would really benefit from some direct support from members and the Convener, Dr John Peaty, would love to hear from anyone who would be willing to get involved as either Secretary or Newsletter Editor for the Group. Last year The Group organised a very successful Bomber Command study tour to Lincolnshire which took in visits to East Kirkby Airfield, the home of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby, the visitor centre at RAF Scampton, as well as several “off the beaten track” venues thanks to the support of Phil Bonner the Aviation Development Officer at Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire.


This year the group is crossing the channel to visit First World War battlefields and will be organising a workshop at York. John has also recently been in touch with Simon Bendry at UCL, who is the national co-ordinator of the school centenary visits to the Western Front battlefields. He wants to meet because one of the things that the schools are crying out for is trench maps and BCS will investigate how we can become involved.


And finally…

Well, nobody guessed that the BBC quote in the last bulletin, “…..is a thing of beauty, with a wonderfully tightly packaged rear end” actually referred to the new McLaren F1 car for the 2015 season.


Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog

11th March 2015

E-mail: peter.jones991@mod.uk

Twitter: @geomapnut

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

President’s Bulletin for January 2015



A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes and I can now announce that the 2015 BCS Symposium will be held in York on 9th and 10th September. The Programme Committee is delighted to announce that this year our Symposium has been combined with the Society of Cartographers’ Summer School and will be the:

BCS – SoC Conference 2015 entitled ‘Mapping Together’

Full details will be available on both Societies’ websites shortly and a call for papers and workshop suggestions is available at http://soc.org.uk/socbcs2015/, so if you would like to be involved please make sure that you register your interest early. We have held joint events in the past, the last being at Reading in 2003. As in previous years, there will be a day for Special Interest Group activities on Tuesday 8th September including a Mapathon organised by the GIS SIG. Last year this was based on data supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Map Curators Group and the Historical Military Mapping Group are also planning a joint event. The BCS-SoC Conference will run on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th September and the Annual Golf Tournament for the President’s Golden Ball will be held on Friday 11th September.

Have you produced any stunning cartography in the past 12 months? If so, we would love to see it and hope that you are considering entering it for the BCS Awards. Any product generated since 1st May 2014 is eligible and there are four separate categories to enter: The Stanfords Award; The OS Open Data Award; The John C Bartholomew Award; and The Avenza Award. The winners in each category then go head to head for the overall BCS Award, last year won by Lovell Johns for their Historic Map of York. Additionally there are young peoples’ awards for New Mapmakers and Schools. National Geographic who sponsored the New Mapmaker Award have withdrawn their sponsorship this year and it will be sponsored in the interim by the BCS until we can find a replacement sponsor. I would like to record my thanks to National Geographic for sponsoring the Award for many years and we are sorry to lose them.




Cartography on the web



A few months ago I posted a Victorian era map showing travel times from London around the world as colour bands on a world map. I did challenge anyone to produce an updated version and whilst nobody has yet done so, Ben Hennig at Oxford University, well known for his cartograms, has produced a map showing the world’s most remote locations. As I have been to Thule Air Base in Northern Greenland, it looks like I can claim to have visited one of the world’s most remote places.

Quite a good little application if you want to include some basic maps in presentations etc... and it is free. Details can be found at www.mapchart.net where there are maps of a few regions with more due to be added. The regional breakdown of the UK is interesting and might be more useful if it was based on counties, but it remains a simple resource for schools and beginners.
I think we all knew this anyway but the power and importance of mental maps is pulled out quite clearly in this article http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/without-mental-maps-we-re-lost-geographer-says-1.1429717.

GPS horror stories are well known but the consistent improvement in satnav capabilities and ironing out the nonsensical mistakes are making them more reliable. However, total reliance on a disembodied voice on your dashboard can be a mistake if you suddenly lose signal. The importance of actually knowing where you are remains paramount and even if you don’t have a paper map or road atlas to hand, the mental map based on the pre-planning of your journey and understanding where you should be can be a lifesaver.

One of the most recognisable representations of London is via its underground network, where distortions to locations aid clarity and interpretation. London Boroughs have now been given the ‘square’ treatment and I think it actually works well as a means of conveying complex information in a simple way, removing the geographical size differences of the boroughs whilst retaining the correct relative orientation in most cases. You can check out some of the variations at http://aftertheflood.co/projects/london-squared-map. Even if you are familiar with London Boroughs however, are you familiar with all the new names for certain parts of London? http://londonist.com/2015/01/london-rebranded-the-capitals-changing-names-mapped.php?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Londonist&utm_content=London%20Rebranded:%20The%20Capital%27s%20Changing%20Names,%20Mapped
 
To those of you who will miss the retiring Cartographic Journals editorials, fear not! There is a bonus one available via the carto nerd blog spot http://cartonerd.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/cartography-is-great-word.html. Ken highlights the role that cartography and cartographers can play and that we are not just there to create “pretty pictures”. When you see some of the examples of epic failures at this site, http://landkartenindex.blogspot.de/2014/11/mapfail-deluxe-landkartenfehler-in.html you can clearly see why our cartographic voice needs to heard louder and more clearly than ever before.




Special Interest Groups


It would appear that one of the ‘best kept secrets’ of the BCS might be the Special Interest Groups (SIGs), so over the next few months I will be highlighting the activities of each to make members, and non-members alike, more aware of their roles and activities. I am going to start with the GIS SIG, which as well as being a palindrome is probably the most self-explanatory. This SIG is primarily aimed at those using GIS to generate mapping products and it organises events aimed at both showcasing what GIS can do and also providing some cartographic underpinning for people who may have learned to use GIS but may have never received any formal cartographic training. GIS SIG members are frequent presenters at BCS Better Mapping Seminars and also run events around the country, with a new venture being BCS support of the Maptime initiatives which are beginning to be held in the UK. An innovation last year, which looks like becoming a regular feature at Symposia in the future, is the Mapathon. The basic idea is for anyone interested to turn up with their own laptop, running whatever GIS software they utilise and they are given a dataset from which to generate outputs, which are then reviewed and critiqued at the end of the day. Last year we worked with data provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and 20 people attended, working in teams of 3 or 4 to produce a wide range of innovative outputs. We will be holding another Mapathon at the Symposium in York and we also hope to organise one at Ordnance Survey in late Spring.



Unusual Maps



While you do find maps in some rather unusual places, I haven’t seen one on a pasty before and certainly not one this big. It was made by the head chef at the Eden Project ahead of the World Pasty Championships to be held on 28th February. I left the Sherlock paragraph in as it ties back to my Presidential address at last year’s Symposium where I compared Cartographers to Sherlock as high functioning sociopaths. It looks like we have also both had a popularity surge with Sherlock topping iPlayer viewing figures and BCS Membership topping 700.








Publications



BCS Member Gwilym Eades from Royal Holloway University has recently published ‘Maps and Memes’ which looks at how maps and cartography have long been used in the lands and resources offices of Canada's indigenous communities in support of land claims and traditional-use studies. Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, it can be ordered at http://www.mqup.ca/maps-and-memes-products-9780773544499.php.



And Finally



A direct quote from the BBC website, “…..is a thing of beauty, with a wonderfully tightly packaged rear end”, referring to?



Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog

10th February 2015



E-mail: peter.jones991@mod.uk

Twitter: @geomapnut


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