Tuesday 3 June 2014

BCS President's Bulletin May 2014

It’s that time again when a large part of the world will be glued to their TV sets for almost a month watching the World Cup and a slightly smaller part will be groaning inwardly when you announce you’re going to watch Honduras v. Ecuador. Maps and wallcharts will start appearing all over the place in offices and homes, children will fill out the results in World Cup sticker books until the novelty wears off, but at least it encourages a healthy interest in the locations of other countries and which of them England are going to beat. According to my wallchart predictions, England will beat Germany in the final having scraped out of the group and then seen off Ivory Coast, Brazil and Portugal. Can England really win the 2014 World Cup? Yes. Will England win the 2014 World Cup? Your guess is as good as mine. By the time I write next month’s bulletin, we will be at the quarter final stage – will England still be a contender?!

BCS Symposium

The BCS’ 50th Annual Symposium is now just 3 weeks away and bookings are at an all-time high. Well, at least at a high in recent years. No, I haven’t made a mistake. Although the Society celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year, this year sees us holding our 50th Annual Symposium. I don’t know who holds the record for having attended the most Symposia. I’ve attended them all since 1999, but I am sure there are others who can surpass that. It looks like being another excellent event this year with a very good range of speakers from across the cartographic community, some really hands on workshops and our first ever Mapathon. Full details of the Mapathon can be found on the website, http://www.cartography.org.uk/downloads/mapping2014/Mapathon_flyer.pdf, but essentially you turn up at Marwell on the Tuesday morning with your laptop loaded with software of your choice, we give you a dataset to work with and by the end of the day you have turned that dataset into a map. We are working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to produce a map or maps that will help in their commemoration of the Centenary of the First World War. It is free to attend, so if you haven’t already signed up, check out the website, sign up and come along. Help will be at hand for those of you who don’t feel that confident and everyone is welcome whatever your level of expertise.
The BCS Awards that will be presented at the Black Tie Gala Dinner on the Wednesday evening have now closed for 2014. We will be announcing details for the 2015 Awards at the Symposium and we will be looking for more fantastic and innovative cartography for next year’s entries. The UKHO Junior Mapmaker Award and the National Geographic Society New Mapmaker Award are still open and don’t close until the end of July. There is still time to submit entries and again full details may be found on the website.

If you have ever wondered why the event is called a Symposium, I did offer an explanation in my 50th Anniversary speech last year, but an alternative reason has been offered, if you work your way through this decision tree.

Maps on the Internet

I have recently become increasingly aware of the neologism ‘infographic’, more of which at the Symposium. The huge explosion of mapping on the Internet is both a good and a bad thing. It has popularised maps even more than ever before and has increased awareness of issues by portraying them within a spatial context that can often add depth and meaning – when done well. But the flip side is that an awful lot of it is not done well, in fact it’s done appallingly badly. A recent article by Business Insider sums it up perfectly, with some pretty hideous examples - http://www.businessinsider.com/the-internets-maps-obsession-2014-5#ixzz31BHOvuDf.

‘Could you make a better map than this?’ Did you rise to the challenge issued by Knowhere Consulting? They highlighted a dreadful example on their site http://knowwhereconsulting.co.uk/could-you-make-a-better-map/. One thing we need to be wary of is becoming the internet police and just knocking bad maps. As the article says, “By now you may be thinking ‘why doesn’t he stop knocking the LGA’s map and make a better one himself?’. Well I am a pretty clumsy user of QGIS and I am certainly not a cartographer so my effort would be be pretty poor. So here’s a challenge, download the data, use some OpenData and make a better map”. The entries will be judged and a prize awarded at the July Geomob event, but BCS would love to see the entries too. Talking of which, the line up for the next Geomob event on 17th July has been announced. Full details may be found at http://geomobldn.org/post/86215066805/july-17th-geomob-lineup.

Okay, so they can’t spell colour, but GIS lounge has an interesting article on maps for the colour blind that complements the article in the latest edition of Maplines, http://www.gislounge.com/making-color-blind-friendly-maps/

Not wishing to prolong this any more than is strictly necessary, the good old chestnut of right information, wrong projection reared its ugly head again in May. Few of us would probably have linked The Proclaimers to cartography, but linked they have been. Check out the Cartonerd’s blog, http://cartonerd.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/i-would-map-500-miles.html which says it all and we will then quietly draw a line under it.

Sit back from whichever device you are using to read this before opening the next link or you are in serious danger of drooling over your keyboard. http://www.pinterest.com/globemakers/the-art-of-maps-cartography/ After highlighting some of the worst examples on the net, here are some of the most beautiful map images. If there isn’t at least one example on the site that you will absolutely love I will be amazed.

ICA Mapcarte

So, what have I selected as my favourites from this months’ selection? It’s a pretty eclectic mix, starting with a classic, The Times Atlas. First published in 1895 and still going strong today, this has been the stalwart of the Atlas market, viewed as the authoritative version. I do have one rather worrying anecdote, however. Whilst visiting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the late 1990s, I was offered a tour of some of the more prestigious rooms, including the Foreign Secretary’s Office. The incumbent was Robin Cook at the time and I was heartened to see a Times Atlas on a side table and assumed that this was the reference work that the Foreign Secretary consulted when formulating Britain’s Foreign Policy. I was slightly disheartened, on opening the front cover to discover that it was the 1963 edition!
‘Where on earth have you been?’ Well if the Guardian’s map is to be believed, and what looks like a very heavily pregnant USA is accurate, most of us seem to have crossed the pond. Australia is pretty rotund as well and as for our European neighbours it would seem that France and a particularly pendulous Sweden are amongst our favourite destinations. As the post says, ‘Simple, Fun and Eye Catching’.

My last choice is a bit like the ‘Kevin’ map last month, I know I shouldn’t like it, but I do. ‘The Londoner’s view of the North’, is a combination of stereotype and humour. Whilst it can’t be cited as an example of great cartography, anything that makes you smile can’t be all bad. Come September 18th, I wonder if the author will have to issue a revised version?!
To view all the maps on the MapCarte site go to http://mapdesign.icaci.org/category/mapcarte/.
Honorary Fellowship

Last year we recognised the significant contribution to the Society of two of our members, Ann Sutherland and Dr Seppe Cassettari, with the award of Honorary Fellowships. We are now inviting nominations for this year. Each year the Society can grant up to 3 Honorary Fellowships, so if you know of someone who you think the Society should recognise, please contact our Administrator, Roger Hore.

Technician of the Year

Congratulations to BCS member, Mark Szegner from Loughborough University, who has just been awarded the Higher Education Authority’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Technician of the Year Award for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. These awards celebrate the technician’s contribution to teaching and learning activities and to the wider HE student experience. Mark is one of the few University Cartographers around and it is great to be able to celebrate the recognition of cartography in a field where my source for the original information tells me “This is a really big deal as usually technicians in white coats tend to win”. A brief resumé of his career can be found at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/stem-conference-2014/TOTY-GEES.

Congratulations from all your colleagues in the BCS.

And finally

We have just confirmed our guest speaker to follow the BCS AGM on 17th November. BBC Weather presenter Helen Willetts will be speaking to us. As yet I don’t have a title for her talk but it will have a cartographic element. I heard Helen speak at the RGS some years ago on climate change and she is very engaging speaker. Full details will appear on the website soon.

Image courtesy of BBC website

Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog
3rd June 2014

Twitter: @geomapnut

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