Friday, December 09, 2016

Winter Window Wonderlands

This winter you can explore New York's wonderful Christmas window displays on a Google powered tour of Manhattan's biggest stores.

Google's Window Wonderland tour features photos, audio and Street View images of the Christmas window displays of 18 New York stores. The photos of each store front have been stitched together to create a scrolling display of each store's window display. This allows you to take a virtual stroll along each store front and examine in high resolution each of the featured windows.

Each of the store's window displays in Winter Wonderland also includes either an audio commentary from the window's dresser or the background street sounds from the actual store front. Each store has also been captured in special custom Street View panoramas.


In their 2014 paper Becksploitation: The Over-use of a Cartographic Icon Kenneth Field and William Cartwright rail against the overuse and parody of Harry Beck's iconic London Underground map. In their paper Field & Cartwright argue that Beck's map has become widely overused as a map metaphor and is now often used as "a short‐cut approach that rides on the success of someone else’s hard work, perhaps with the principle aim of getting a job done rapidly".

To emphasize this exploitation of Beck's London Underground map Field & Cartwright created their own London Underground map which links to over 220 examples of people copying or parodying Beck's classic design, You can view the original Beckploitation map on Kenneth Field's Cartonerd blog.

Of course Field & Cartwright's paper on the overuse of Harry Beck's iconic Underground map has had little effect on the number of people copying Beck's tube map design. His iconic design is an easily reproduced and recognized map metaphor and parodies of the map continue to be created on an almost weekly basis.

Kenneth Field has therefore been able to update his meta-Becksploitation map with many more examples of Harry Beck inspired maps. Field's new End of the Line: A Tube Map of Tube Maps Parody Map now includes almost 300 maps inspired by the London Underground map. In both the original Beckploitation map and this new updated version each London Underground Station on the map is an example of a Beck inspired parody map. If you click on a station name, on either map, you can view a thumbnail image of the parody and then click on the thumbnail to view the linked map.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Mapping Global School Rankings

The latest global school rankings are an interesting read. Unless, of course, you live in America, in which case the poor standards in the teaching of literacy means that you will probably struggle with the long words.

The OECD's 'Programme for International Student Assessment' (Pisa) assesses education rankings in countries around the world in the core subjects of reading, mathematics and science. The 2015 results have now been released and you can browse the country rankings on two interactive maps, one created by the BBC and the other released by Compare Your Country.

Both maps allow you to view the rankings of each country tested by PISA in the subjects of reading, mathematics and science. The BBC map provides a choropleth view of each country's ranking for science. You can also click on a country on the map to view the country's score for reading and mathematics.

The Compare Your Country map is the better of the two maps and actually allows you to view a choropleth view for the country rankings in each of the three core subjects tested, It also allows you to view the rankings for the three 'Equity' scores, which compare the education scores of boys vs girls, students from different social backgrounds and students from immigrant families.

I was actually joking about the USA's poor reading skills. The USA scores above average in reading and science. However the USA is below average in mathematics, coming 40th out of the 70 countries tested.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Chopping Down the London Tree Map

This week Cartonerd has taken his sharpened axe to the London Tree Map. This new interactive map from the Greater London Authority shows the location and genus of 700,000 London trees.

London has over 8 million trees, therefore the London Tree Map is clearly not an exhaustive map of all of London's trees. This is one of Cartonerd's main complaints with the map. In Can't See the Woods for the Trees he argues that by mapping less than ten percent of London's trees the map is obviously a false representation of London's trees.

This criticism is obviously true. However the introduction to the map clearly states that the map is not an exhaustive survey of London's trees. So this criticism is also a little harsh, However another of Cartonerd's criticisms of the map, namely the 'lack of naming conventions for recording species' in the data, highlights a really serious problem with the quality of the data.

Before reading Cartonerd's criticisms of the map I had happily been using the map to identify the species of trees in my street. I also used the map to find out the locations of a number of edible fruit and chestnut trees that I didn't know about in my neighborhood.

Cartonerd clearly feels that the London Tree Map 'lies' and shouldn't have been released until the errors and inconsistencies in the data are addressed. If you live in London I think that you still might be interested in using the map to help identify the trees in your street and neighborhood. However it is obviously worth bearing in mind the inconsistencies in the data identified by Cartonerd and remaining aware that this map shouldn't be read uncritically.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Every Christmas Eve you can track Santa's journey around the world on Google's annual Santa Tracking map. However you don't have to wait until Christmas Eve to visit the Google Santa Tracker. Every day, between now and Christmas Eve, the Google Santa Tracker will feature a different Christmas related game.

The Google Santa Tracker also includes a Google Map looking at Christmas Traditions around the world. It is always fascinating to explore how different cultures celebrate Christmas around the world. For example did you know that in Iceland the Christmas Cat prowls the streets at Christmas gobbling up anyone who is not dressed-up in clothes warm enough to ward off the winter cold?

If you want to learn more about Christmas traditions around the world then you can also explore the Santas Around the World map. Santa goes by many different names. In many countries he is of course Saint Nicholas, but he is also known as Father Christmas, Agios Vasilis, Shengdan Laoren and Ded Moroz.

It seems that there are two main versions of Santa's name. In many countries Santa is named after Saint Nicholas, for example 'Santa Claus' itself derives from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas', a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas. In many other countries he goes by the name of Father Christmas, for example he is 'Père Noël' in France, 'Pai Natal' in Portugal and 'Papa Noel' in Spain.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Art of Mapping Art

One of the great advantages of flexible JavaScript mapping libraries like Leaflet.js is that they can be used to create far more than just interactive maps. For example, if you swap your map tiles for image tiles, you can quickly create an impressive interactive image viewer.

Last week we looked at how Europeana Labs has used Leaflet.js to create a simple interactive interface for viewing medieval manuscripts. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in the Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus, a series of prophetic manuscripts dating from the 14th century.

Europeana Labs are not the only developers to use Leaflet to provide a simple interface for exploring images. The Rijksmuseum also uses Leaflet to allow visitors to explore the works of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt in close detail. The Rijksmuseum's dedicated Rembrandt web page includes a number of the Dutch master's paintings, all of which can be explored in detail using a Leaflet powered interactive image viewer.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has also used Leaflet to provide an interface to view works of art in its extensive collection. For example this Leaflet map of Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple allows you to examine El Greco's painting in all its stunning detail, including the portraits of four other Renaissance painters in the lower right-hand corner.

Of course image viewers created with Leaflet don't have to be confined to presenting the paintings of famous artists. The Getty Museum has used Leaflet to provide a way of exploring the beautiful designs which can be found in Roman mosaics. The Getty's Roman Mosaics website includes a Leaflet map showing the original locations of the Roman mosaics in its collections.

Leaflet wasn't used just for the map. If you click through on the links provided in each mosaic's marker on the map you can actually explore the mosaics themselves on their own individual Leaflet image viewer.

Gunma GIS Geek has also used the Leaflet mapping platform to create interactive maps from a couple of famous Japanese pilgrimage mandalas. Pilgrimage mandalas are paintings which provide a panoramic view of temple and shrine sites.

The first map on Temple Pilgrimage Mandala is of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This 16th–17th century hanging scroll depicts the Nachi Shrine on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. The painting represents the journey of two pilgrims (the couple clothed in white) as they enter the scene (bottom right) and take a circuitous route through the temple complex to the Nachi shrine.

Mapping the Attack on Pearl Harbor

75 years ago, on the 7th December 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Around 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,178 wounded in the attack. The attack directly led to the USA entering into World War II.

Japanese developer Hidenori Watanave has mapped eyewitness reports of the attack on a 3D interactive map of Oahu island in Hawaii. The 1941 Project allows you to read testimony of the attack on Pearl Harbor from actual eyewitnesses of the attack, as documented in Katrina Luksovsky's book, 'Ford Island December 7, 1941'.

The map was created using the Cesium WebGL virtual globe library. The 1941 Project also includes links to Hidenori Watanave's other 3d mapping projects. These include the Hiroshima Archive, a 3d map of eyewitness accounts of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, the Nagasaki Archive, eyewitness accounts of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the Battle of Okinawa, eyewitness accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

How to Find Your Local Superhero

Jonah Adkins has created a U.S.Avengers interactive map which can help you find your local Marvel superhero. U.S.Avengers is a new Marvel comic book series which features an America-themed team of Avengers. Using Jonah's map you can discover which of thees superheroes is from your U.S, state.

io9 has been keeping tabs on Marvel's promotional cover art releases for the new U.S.Avengers comic. Marvel has released one promotional cover for each U.S. state. Each of these individual state covers assigns an individual Avenger hero to the featured state. So io9 has been able to work out the Avenger superhero for all 50 states.

Jonah has used this information to create his U.S.Avengers Map, which shows the Avenger superhero for every state. Each state includes a map label which shows the name of the local Avenger superhero. You can even mouse-over these superhero labels to view a picture of the hero,

Jonah used Mapbox Studio to create his custom comic styled map. The map uses four different background images to create the comic half-tone type effect.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How to Map Anti-Papal Propaganda

The Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus are a series of prophetic manuscripts, dating from the 14th century. The manuscripts depict a succession of different popes from history, in which the popes are illustrated in various alliances with the Antichrist.

The European Union's Europeana Labs has used the Leaflet mapping platform to create an interactive presentation of the University of Fribour's copy of the manuscript. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in this ancient manuscript.

Europeana Labs has written up a how-to guide on how the map was created with the Leaflet and Europeana API. Building a rich media experience with the Europeana API and IIIF explains how Leaflet can be used to display Europeana records through a simple call to the Europeana API.

Bikes in Boston Bike Lanes

In September Nathan Rosenquist released an interactive map which allows New Yorkers to submit photographs of cars parked illegally in bike lanes. displays the photos of these reported vehicles on an interactive map. It also prominently displays the licence plates of the obstructive cars.

As well as creating this interactive car-shaming map of New York Nathan also open-sourced the code behind the project on GitHub.

Cars in Bike Lanes Boston has used Nathan's code to create a similar map fo Boston cyclists. This means that cyclists in Boston can now submit details and photographs of offending vehicles to their own interactive map of cars illegally obstructing bike lanes.