Thursday 3 January 2013

BCS President’s Report December 2012

A Very Merry Cristmas and a Happy New Year

An early Christmas message as Roger our Administrative Officer is taking a well earned rest from Membership renewals for a couple of weeks.

Yes, it is a deliberate mistake in the title, I have dropped the ‘h’ from Christmas. Why? Well there is much debate about the correct use of English and dropped aitches have been around for many a year, but usually at the beginning of words. The example I found recently was more subtle and led me to wonder if a new word had been coined. Hopefully you will have spotted the error in the extract (left) from The Times list of ideal Christmas presents ‘For Him’. Firstly I would take issue with a book about maps being in the ‘For Him’ section and secondly just what is ‘cartograpy’? Is it a combination of maps and wine, which may be of interest to many, is it the mapping of wine regions? Either way, perhaps it’s a good excuse to raise a glass or two during the festive period as ‘map books’ are becoming increasingly popular and mainstream, showing that there is a continued and growing interest in the subject.

Maps produced by Mary Spence
On the subject of books, those of you who have bought, or may receive as a Christmas present, ‘Brazil’, the book that accompanies Michael Palin’s recent TV series, will be interested to know that the maps in the book were produced by Mary Spence, past BCS President and still very much involved with Programme Committee. We are very pleased to announce that Mary has persuaded Michael to give a talk to BCS members next year as part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations. The talk will take place at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Friday 12th April. Full details will be sent out in the New Year, but definitely a date for your diary.

The big event this month was the London Mapping Festival Mapping Showcase held at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 6th December. This was the culmination of the Festival and was a huge success. BCS had a stand at the Showcase and we were kept busy all day speaking to existing members and encouraging new members to join. We had taken along some examples of the Restless Earth resources and maps produced by Year 10 students, which generated a lot of interest.

The London Mapping Festival was the brainchild of the GeoInformation Group and I would like to offer them my congratulations on an excellent initiative. The 18 month-long festival encompassed a wide variety of events and I hope that you managed to get along to some of them? The Mapping Showcase was notable for the wide range of exhibitors, from the entire spectrum of the cartographic industry and the extensive range of attendees from the GIS professional to the self confessed ‘map nut’. There was also a good range of presentations throughout the day on some very thought provoking topics that are very relevant to the cartographic community at the moment. With over 500 registered delegates it showed that the industry is in very good health at the moment and The BCS needs to capitalise on this by further increasing our membership base and ensuring that we fully meet the needs of our members, no matter which sector of the industry they are working in.

50th Anniversary Events
Following on from the London Mapping Festival’s example, for our 50th anniversary year in 2013, we are aiming to hold events on a regular basis around the country to offer the chance to attend a BCS event to as many members as possible. A provisional programme has been put together by the Programme Committee, but if there is an area or event that you would like to organise, please do get in touch with us as we want the year to be as inclusive as possible. January sees the BCS having a stand at DGI Global from 22nd to 24th. This is aimed at the Defence community and is attended by delegates, as the name suggests, from a global audience. BCS has had a stand at previous events when it was DGI Europe and we have generated a lot of interest in the Society.

On 24th January the UKGEOforum 2013 Annual Lecture will be held at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London. This year’s lecturer is Mark Ovenden and his lecture is entitled “How Beck's diagram re-mapped the modern world”. Early booking for this event is recommended as places are limited. Roger sent out full details of the lecture on 19th November. Mark was a presenter at the Symposium this year, where he delivered a workshop entitled ‘Making a practical transit map’ and from the delegate feedback it was very well received.

For those of you with children, or if you are just a big kid yourself, then you may be interested in keeping up with Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve by following him on the NORAD Santa Tracker website - North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a joint organization of Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defence for the two countries and whilst Santa is not seen as a ‘threat’ he does get tracked every year. It’s good fun and is a useful persuasive measure to get children to bed, although given that they are usually so excited there is no guarantee of sleep I’m afraid. So log on and follow his progress across the world map and ensure that you are in bed before he arrives to deliver your presents!

Which, I think, just leaves me to wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope that it is a peaceful and quiet time that we can enjoy with family and friends.

Best Wishes

BCS President’s Report November 2012

Dear Members and Fellows,

This is my first monthly bulletin to you as your new President. Peter Jolly started the monthly report and I certainly valued it as a way of keeping in touch with what was going on within the Society and so I intend to continue in this tradition with a few little tweaks of my own.

For those of you who may be relatively new to the Society, or whom I have yet to meet at one of our many functions, I thought you might like to know a little more about me. I have worked for the Ministry of Defence for over 30 years and when I started my career in 1979 I said that when I became fed up with working with maps I would then know that it was time to move on. Well, I am still here and not in the least fed up! Maps have always fascinated me and I can remember at primary school when the class was told they could choose their favourite book for "quiet time" I always reached for an atlas. I have been involved with BCS since 1999 and I have spent the last 4 years as Chair of the Programme Committee. I come to the role of President with a sound grounding in both the Society and its Activities.

Our schools' initiative, "Restless Earth", which began in 2011 following on from a discussion of how best to take mapping out to schools, supports the current geography curriculum and is a very popular workshop for GCSE students. In November we delivered 2 workshops in 3 days, in Altrincham and Fleet and there are a further 6 planned for the remainder of the Academic Year.
I am pleased to announce that one of my final achievements as Programme Chair was to secure sponsorship from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation which was established as a result of a visit to London in 1983 by the late Ryoichi Sasakawa. The purpose of his visit was to meet a number of senior British figures to discuss the international situation and, in particular, UK - Japanese relations. 
It was agreed that it would be in the interest of both countries if more could be done to enhance mutual appreciation and understanding of each other's culture, society and achievements. We are delighted to have the Foundation as our prime sponsor for Restless Earth and look forward to working with them in the future.

A recent noteworthy item in the press has been the controversy over Sandy Island. Shown on Google Maps and nautical maps (sic) – I am sure you could hear the hydrographers shouting at the radio report "They're charts, not maps!" – it has been discovered, or rather not discovered, that it doesn't actually exist! Initially it was thought that perhaps it was simply a digitisation error, but it has since been identified on a 1908 chart in an Auckland museum. It has been reported that the island was the result of an error recorded in 1876 by the crew of the Velocity, a whaling ship, who reported a series of "heavy breakers" and some "sandy islets". This highlights the fact that you cannot always believe what you see on a map or a chart!

Sandy Island
This cartographic controversy also emphasises the point that I have made at several events, that cartography is as important now as it has ever been, if not more so in this era of Geographic Information Systems where software packages, designed by IT specialists, freely available on the internet, "make" your map for you with not a cartographic consideration or principle in sight, which can result in very poor quality products that betray the true essence of a good map. The Society needs to ensure that we reinforce the message that good design and presentation will significantly enhance a cartographic product and that bad design can often cast doubt on a perfectly accurate product that simply does not inspire confidence. Of course, the reverse is equally true, but that is another story!

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity in my first President's Bulletin to thank Peter Jolly for his Presidency over the past 2 years. During that time our membership has continued to grow, which is no mean feat in this current climate. He has handed over a flourishing Society and I look forward to all the events planned for our 50th Anniversary in 2013. In advance, I encourage you all to attend as many events as you can as it promises to be a memorable year for The British Cartographic Society.

Best wishes,

BCS President’s Report October 2012

Looking back October has been a quiet month for all sorts of reasons. A number of our members attended the Frankfurt Book Fair and I’m looking forward to reading Alan Grimwade’s report on the event in the next edition of Maplines. The IMIA, International Map Industry Association, was IMTA so ‘Trade’ has been changed to ‘Industry’, had a stand there and a number of our members were involved.

Our Restless Earth Workshop at Sandhurst was first delayed 2 days and then cancelled by the school which is a great pity as our resources are limited. Going along with the cancellation theme we had to cancel the GIS SIG because of a lack of attendees! The lesson learnt here is that, in future, we need to ensure that a GIS SIG takes place alongside another event. However, the GIS SIG in October 2013 should be packed, there’s a clue below.

Peter Jones, DGC, and
new BCS President
On a cheerful note the AGM at the RAF Club on 31st went as planned. I’m pleased to say that the Society continues to ‘buck the trend’ as our membership continues to grow and our finances are stable showing a small surplus over the last financial year. After the AGM I duly handed over the chain of office to Peter Jones from DGC our new President. After the reception we had an excellent presentation from Steven Feldman during which he described the development of web mapping over the years.  After another short break we had dinner which appropriately enough was held in the President’s room.

November starts with a Council meeting which is followed by 3 GEOData events in Glasgow, Bristol and Belfast where we have a BCS stand and a Restless Earth Workshop at Altincham Boys Grammar School.

Our plans for 2013, our 50th Anniversary, are beginning to firm up and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to learn that Michael Palin and Jack Dangermond, President of Esri Inc, have both agreed to take part in the celebrations. Some 6 months ago we invited the SoC to join us at our 2013 Symposium in Leicester during September but I’m sorry to say that they have declined our offer. I remember the joint event we held in Reading some years ago and what a great success that was. I’d like to think there might be a change of heart.

So this is my last monthly email as your President. I hope they have helped to keep you up-to-date with the Society’s activities and events. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to be your President. I firmly believe that the Society has a great future promoting good cartography to those thousands of map makers many of whom might well benefit from a bit of advice. Thank you all for your help and support.  Finally, my Very Best Wishes to Peter Jones, our new President, who already has persuaded me to become chair of the Programme Committee.

Best Wishes

Peter Jolly
Past President

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