Tuesday 17 November 2015

Congratulations Alex

Just a short note to congratulate Alex Kent on becoming the new President of BCS. Thank you to all those who voted for me and who have sent me some lovely messages of support.


Thursday 7 May 2015

BCS President's Bulletin April 2015

The deadline for submitting your maps for the BCS Awards was 30th April, so I hope that you managed to get your entries in on time. Many of you did as the number of entries for the 2015 Awards is almost double that of last year. All the publicity, particularly on social media has paid dividends with entries coming in from all over the world. The judges are certainly going to be made to work hard this year in order to decide on the winning entries. Judging will take place over the next few weeks and the winners will be announced at the Annual Gala Dinner at the joint BCS/SoC Conference in September. We hope that as many as possible of the winners and runners up will be able to join us to celebrate excellence in Cartography. The programme for the Conference is virtually finalised and publicity will be appearing very shortly via the SoC website and through printed brochures which will be available at Events in May and June. BCS will have an exhibition stand at the ESRI UK Conference on 19th May and at GeoBusiness on 27th and 28th May, so if you are attending these events, please come along and visit the BCS stand. The latest issue of Maplines has just been published and inside you will find nomination forms for BCS Council. If you have ever thought of standing for Council then please do speak to one of the current members Council as we are keen to involve as many people as possible in the running of the Society and new faces are always welcome.

We will also be looking for a new Administrative Consultant to start in October as the current incumbent, Roger Hore, has indicated that he will be standing down after six years. Full details of the role will appear on the BCS website shortly, so please do pass on the details to anyone you know who might be interested.

Cartography on the Internet


One BCS Award this year that hasn’t yet closed is the Google Award for Mapping of the General Election Result. I recently heard Danny Dorling speak at SOAS about mapping election results and there are also some useful hints and tips in an article at http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-04/23/general-election-2015-maps, so it might be worth reading it to get some hints and tips before you submit your entry.

It’s certainly been true in a military context, but The Guardian recently highlighted other sorts of battles where mapping is critical. Under the headline of “No battle can be fought without a map”, they highlight the role that mapping is playing on countering land grabs, deforestation, pollution and the rush for mineral exploitation. The amount of material now being used to counter these activities has now come to fruition in a new atlas. The Environmental Justice Atlas is an atlas of environmental struggles across the world. It includes land wars in India, anti-mining activities in Latin America, a legal fight against oil pollution in the Amazon and park protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, the atlas documents 1,400 conflicts, but this will grow as more information comes in about areas that are little reported on.

The BCS prides itself on being a very inclusive Society and draws its membership from a diverse base. There is possibly a perception that Cartography in the modern era, with a preponderance of technology, is becoming more male dominated. It would be interesting to get figures on the split between male and female in the industry. The Osher Library exhibition certainly seems to think that the role of women has been underplayed and has an exhibition running from March through to October entitled ‘Women in Cartography’. http://oshermaps.org/exhibitions/women-in-cartography To quote its publicity “This exhibition recognizes and celebrates the long overlooked role of women in the world of mapping; bringing their stories, accomplishments, and most importantly their maps to light.” Located at the University of South Maine, I’m afraid it may be a bit too far for a Map Curators Group visit.


Most of it has probably been said before, but the article on unmapped places in the world on the BBC website does highlight some of the less well known examples and stresses that even in the days of the ubiquitous internet we still struggle to keep up with the pace of change happening on a global scale. Climate change, urbanisation and natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Nepal all conspire to make the work of the map maker never-ending. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141127-the-last-unmapped-places.


On a similar vein, I wrote about the Missing Maps project a couple of months ago. Engineering consultancy firm, Arup has now signed up to support this initiative working with M├ędicins Sans Frontières, and the British and American Red Cross, to digitally map the most vulnerable places in the developing world. http://www.imeche.org/news/engineering/arup-backs-digital-cartography-project-10041509 If we think of vulnerable places, then Nepal will be in the forefront of our minds at the moment. This must be one of the most well mapped and recorded natural disasters of recent years with social media very much to the fore in providing information that is being used extensively by the rescue and aid agencies. Twitter has been almost overwhelmed by the number of sources of information being posted by organisations around the world. Given its relative isolation Nepal is surprisingly well mapped at 1:25,000 and smaller, but a huge amount of update information has been provide by Open Street Map, drone imagery and organisations like MapAction who have deployed to the worst hit areas.

One potential consequence is that we may have to consider the topic for Restless Earth. Since 2011 we have concentrated on the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, but such is the severity of this incident that we may move to something that is more recent and provides some very different challenges to the mapmaker than did the disaster in Japan.


BCS is supporting the Maptime initiative in the UK. The concept started in the US, where people interested in making maps would gather informally with their own laptops and software to learn about making maps digitally, using different software packages and applications and sharing knowledge. There are now two groups in the UK, one in West London and one in Southampton, each meeting on a regular basis. Both of them are on Twitter under Maptime West London and Maptime Southampton. You may like to set up a group in another part of the UK. I do know that the West London group are planning to enter the Google Election Mapping Award, either as a group or individually, so Southampton consider the gauntlet thrown down. If you are planning on entering the Google Award entries close on 30th June, not 31st May as it says in ‘Notes from our President’ in Maplines.

And Finally…

This appeared in the press recently, so it definitely sounds like one to add to the playlist! “Strange name but not so strange music is what ambient melodic post-rockers Sleepmakeswaves bring to Port Macquarie on their international tour to support their new album Love of Cartography.

The Great Northern tour celebrates the release of the band's latest single and will see them play 55 shows in 22 countries across Europe, the UK, Asia, Australia and New Zealand in their biggest tour to date. The band had a massive 2014, with Love of Cartography charting at No.31 on the ARIA chart and No.2 on the 100 per cent Independent chart behind Sia.”

Add it to your Christmas list!

Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog
6th May 2015
E-mail: peter.jones991@mod.uk
Twitter: @geomapnut

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

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