Posts filed under ‘Cartography’

Planetary maps and mind maps

Kim & TylerI seem to be in a bit of a cartographic and LOLCats phase right now. While checking out some maps of Africa, I stumbled onto these maps of the far side of our satellite, the Moon. Wired Science refers to them as the “most beautiful planetary maps ever”. Not sure I’d go that far. Seem a bit Jackson Pollock to me or a bit “here’s what I had for breakfast after I threw it up”. The United States Geological Survey dudes, in partnership with NASA, have been mapping planets – not sure how it’s done but here’s a map of the far side of the Moon. Pretty awesome.

The colours of the map depict minerals and various geological materials. And here’s the Moon’s western hemisphere:

Source: Wired Science

And at a totally different level, you can map your ideas and thoughts with some pretty cool Mind Mapping tools I’ve found. Mashable has a list of 30+ mind mapping tools. They may not produce a Jackson Pollock like map but they help to model arguments, ideas and perspectives. Considering we’re heading into a Federal Election in Australia on November 24, Australia’s politicians should probably check out Debatemapper, a free web-based tool that can model and evaluate debates in politics and public policy. On the site there’s an interesting debate map showing ex-UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s eighth and final Our Nation’s Future lecture on public life and the relationship between politics and the media in the 21st Century. The verdict? The relationship is stuffed and needs repair.

And is pretty cool as it allows for multiple users and you can include Wikipedia entries. Cornerstone is a highly visual tool that the kids can use (good to get them young into the discipline of organising thoughts if you ask me). So here’s a couple of mind maps using Logotron educational software:

Go here to Mashable to see the complete list of 30+ mind mapping tools – very useful.

Given all the stuff I’ve seen recently on LOLCats, I’m sure there’s a mind mapping tool to map the thoughts of kitty 🙂

November 10, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Everything you need to know about Europe

Despite LOLCats Bible of yesterday’s post, I haven’t scurried back to reading on privacy and surveillance just yet. So today’s post is about another curious site I came across – Eupedia and its maps of Europe. I love old or interesting maps and there’s plenty to find on this site.

Ever wondered what percentage of Europeans have fair hair or light-hued eyes? Can’t say it keeps me awake at night but this map, for example, deals with fair-haired people.

And this map shows density of population:

Whilst this map shows child well-being in Europe (based on a UNICEF report):

November 8, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

English countryside disappearing

CPRE photo of English countrysideFrom the 1960s to now, the peaceful, green English countryside has been disappearing due to relentless urbanisation – highways and population growth have eroded the tranquility. In the early 1960s, the motorways had barely started to encroach and 26% of the countryside was classed as disturbed. By the 1990s, 41% of the English countryside was suffering from urban blight. By 2007, 50% has disappeared due to urban intrusion. South-east England is the worst affected with a 70% loss of undisturbed countryside. So by the end of the 21st Century, countryside free from major disturbance could all be swallowed up in most regions of England.

This is all according to new maps just published by Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Once tranquil areas are now subject to noise, street lights, spoiled views, power lines, airports and highways. More than 12,350 square miles of countryside have been affected since the 1960s. And since 1990, each year is witness to a further 320 square miles disappearing. As the CEO of CPRE says: “Countryside which is undisturbed by noise and development is vital for our quality of life and well-being. These maps show what the future may hold if we don’t sufficiently value our wonderful rural landscapes. As the shadow of intrusion stretches further and wider, the peace and quiet we need is harder to find.

CPRE has just released the intrusion maps and they bring together data spanning the 1960s, 1990s and 2007. You can see the maps from the 1960s and 2007 below – click on them for fuller detail.

CPRE intrusion map

CPRE intrusion map

You can download the full report – Developing an Intrusion Map of Englandhere. What a sorry state of affairs.

Photo credit: CPRE

September 20, 2007 at 3:00 am 1 comment

The internet has black holes

GreeceThere are a couple of things I quite like: anything quirky or offbeat and interesting maps (particularly historical ones). Put the two together and I’m pretty happy. The Strange Maps blog is the quirky bit in today’s post. And the map is all about the Internet’s black holes.

Like most of us, I was aware that some parts of this wonderful world we inhabit are not switched on. In the world wide web of interconnectedness, some areas on the planet are disconnected and left in the dark. And like most of us, I was aware of Thailand’s banning of YouTube (recently lifted when YouTube’s owner, Google, agreed to filter out offending videos that may be considered an insult to Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej). What I wasn’t really clued up on was just how many countries impede the free flow of information by prohibiting their citizens access to the internet.

How many countries are we talking about? Fifteen. No surprise that one of them is China. Another ‘no surprise’ is Saudi Arabia. But the map, commissioned by Reporters without Borders (mmm…is there Knowledge Managers without Borders??) also points the finger at these countries: Maldives; Tunisia; Belarus; Libya; Syria; Vietnam; Uzbekistan; Nepal; Saudi Arabia; Iran; Myanmar; Cuba; Turkmenistan; North Korea. And here’s the map:

September 7, 2007 at 3:00 am 1 comment

Navigating the web

How cool is this! I read that some people think this is a totally useless map (can’t recall where) but I reckon it’s pretty funky. Japanese company, Information Architects, has just released its 2007 map, which is basically a journey of web trends. It looks like a map of the London Underground and depicts the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective. Mostly, it features English language websites but does include some Japanese, German and Chinese sites.

Click here and check out the map. By placing your mouse over any named site, a pop-up will appear. And the map has been organised to show different “trend lines” – so for example if you follow the Social News Line (dark green), you’ll find Digg, Netvibes, Reddit etc. The rise of political blogs is shown via a thin pink line, so here you’ll find the increasingly influential Huffington Post and Daily Kos sites. The Know How Line consists of sites like Wikipedia, WebMD Health, and Yahoo Answers.

Apparently, there are some insider jokes embedded in the map, which may require a good knowledge of the Tokyo transit system. But I did find this one amusing: “Google has moved from Shibuya, a humming place for young people, to Shinjuku, a suspicious, messy, Yakuza-controlled, but still a pretty cool place to hang out (Golden Gaya)“.

August 15, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

karen.jpgI really like the writings of Steven Johnson and I blogged recently about his book Ghost Map, which I really enjoyed. So interesting to come across his new start-up venture – a website that Johnson says “is an attempt to collectively build the geographic Web, neighborhood by neighborhood...the site is ultimately about a new kind of experience. You sit at a computer and type in a street address, or a neighborhood name, or a zip code — perhaps for your own home area, perhaps for a place you’re visiting or interested in — and within seconds the screen gives you a glimpse of all the textured, real-world issues and conversations and news unfolding in the location you’ve entered.”

So you can find out the exact information you need coursing through the veins of the neighbourhood: crime data; gossip about new restaurants opening; news about the local school and so on. Great concept if you ask me and I could use it in my own area (Newcastle, Australia). Recently, my elderly mother has been extremely ill and we’ve had to find out information ranging from how to find a mobile hairdresser, to where to buy specific medical equipment and how to find aged-care. We’ve had to obtain this information from disparate sources; we’ve had to basically be mind-readers and know what questions to ask (because if you don’t ask, the information is not volunteered); we’ve had to be demanding sometimes to get what we need; we’ve had to know what Government Department deals with what service. To pull all this together,we’ve run around and visited (both physically and virtually) hospitals; local Government websites; medical centres; old age homes; I’ve even bailed up elderly ladies in homes to ask them how they get their hair done!

A concept like would clearly allow you to tap into the jumbled conversations of the neighbourhood in a single space, helping to unify content. As far as I can see, has been co-constructed with Johnson and bloggers in Brooklyn, NY, who blog about their local area. Using a simple tagging architecture for all posts – what/where/when – people can discover what is happening in their area; when it’s happening; and where it’s going on. Maps also help to contextualise neighbourhood knowledge – as you drag a map, the content changes. And it’s not just the latest and greatest news that’s posted because sometimes news stories and information remain active for many months. So if there’s a particular or controversial development project going on, for example, people can track the whole history of the project.

It’s really like participating within a community about your community, with content linked to physical spaces. Nice idea – wish we had it here, sure would have helped me aggregate disparate information in my area!

June 16, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Terra Australis Exotica

// Australian, it’s great to report on a couple of stories about my country :)- if you’ve been to Australia, you’ll know what an exotic land of contrasts it is – harsh, burnt-orange tinged deserts; snowcapped mountains; Uluru; hopping marsupials generally given the moniker Skippy; unusual flora and fauna; and the world’s only egg laying, duck-billed mammal (the platypus). Australia’s outback (or Never-Never in the Aboriginal language; or Back of Beyond or Back O’Bourke in colloquial language), is an ecosystem that has evolved in isolation over millennia.

Professor Ron Quinn of Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies at Australia’s Griffith University is investigating whether the unique properties of Australian plants and marine animals can deliver a cure for cancer and other diseases. In the course of his work, the good professor has discovered 40 plants and 1500 marine animals previously unknown to science, which he hopes may be the key to developing medicines from natural products, which will be able to win the war against the horror diseases of cancer; cardiovascular disease; respiratory disease; and illnesses of the central nervous system.

Seems hard to believe when we think about our Chemical Age, but there are a number of pharmaceutical drugs derived from natural products – the breast cancer drug paclitaxel (TaxolTM), is derived from the stripped bark of the Pacific Yew tree and the cholesterol-lowering drug Lovastatin (AltocorTM) is derived from a fungus. And of course, folk medicine and alternative therapies take advantage of plants and herbs, so it’s good to see that scientists are investigating whether Australia’s exotic flora and fauna might just contain untapped natural sources for future medicines.

And you probably know that Australia is in the grip of a long-standing drought. And you probably also know that Western culture has largely ignored or ridiculed indigenous folk wisdom – and Australia is no exception. Australia’s indigenous people watch the red-tailed black cockatoo and the yellow wattle bush very closely – if the cockies are squawking away and wattle is blossoming, this equals rain. All things are naturally connected and generations of indigenous Australians have monitored the behaviour of animals and plants to inform their meteorological observations. The Indigenous Weather Knowledge Project hopes to harness indigenous peoples’ ancient understanding of weather patterns.

Similar to previous posts where I’ve talked about community mapping projects, Australia’s weather and seasons will be mapped according to indigenous knowledge. By studying clues in the landscape and from flora and fauna, the Indigenous Weather Knowledge Project will closely observe changing weather patterns in the face of climate change. In the Northern Territory, for example, the appearance of the elegant brolga crane signals the start of the monsoon season; when white breasted wood swallows are found together with mudlarks, this signals the beginnings of the wet and dry seasons in the Northeast Arnhem Land area.

Australia has four British-imported seasons: autumn (or Fall); winter; spring; and summer. Indigenous Australians, however, recognise up to seven distinct seasons – you can see the Aboriginal seasons here. This project will be a great way for indigenous knowledge to be showcased and complement scientific approaches.

May 14, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

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