Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

In case you missed it

August 25th, 2017
  • FOSS4G was last week, had the biggest turnout yet, and included some guy on stage rubbing his feat with lotion (or so the story goes, I wasn’t there to witness that historic event.) Some recaps of the week: Carto’s take, the GeoSolutions presentations, DirectionsMagazine. If you have one to add let me know.
    Added 8/29/17: geoMusings FOSS4G Recap
  • There were a lot of eclipse maps. A LOT. All non-eclipse maps seemed to be eclipsed by the eclipse maps.
  • Brian Timoney, of MapBrief fame, said something about Excel on twitter, AGAIN. I was using Google Sheets last week and I swear it read my thoughts and did my calculations for me. I think you should switch to Google Sheets.
  • I mentioned the Einstellung effect, which according to wikipedia is, “a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist.” As a professional cartographer, this should not dissuade you from keeping a mental catalog of map types and techniques (e.g., hex maps, dynamic clustering, cartograms, etc.). It should also not dissuade you from keeping an eye on all the new map types and techniques that are currently being developed and floated on social media. In most cases one of those is going to be the best idea for your map viz too. But it may not be. So to combat this psychological wall, you need to do some things when you are planning a new map. First, try framing your task as a question like, “is there a completely different approach I could take?” Second, if you are drawing out your ideas, switch to writing them out with words or vice versa. This helps you switch from right-brain to left-brain thinking (or vice versa), which gets you out of your usual thinking processes and may enable new insights to occur. Third, and this is always my own biggest issue, take the time to really think through the problem. To get myself to stop hurrying into solution-mode I’ll run the problem by colleagues to get their thoughts, take a walk to think more, or draw it out.
  • City Maps was cited in an academic paper. So was one of Anita Graser’s papers. Double fantastic. The World’s User-Generated Basemap is More than 80% Complete.

 

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British Library Maps, After-hour Tour

November 1st, 2016

The British Library in London is holding a contest to win an after-hours Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line exhibition tour. The competition is free to enter and open until the 11th of November 2016 (midnight).

Competition Entry Form

The library sent me some additional information:

Five lucky winners and their guests will enjoy a tour with the exhibition curator and a special show and tell of rare maps from our collection, including cartographic gems like the personal maps of the kings and queens of England, the earliest maps of London and New York, and secret spy maps from the 17th century. Winners can quiz our curator on the stories behind our maps and hear how different items are selected for our exhibitions.

If I were anywhere close to this exhibit I would definitely want to enter this. Good luck to those who do!

Geo Flash Conference Announcement!

October 14th, 2016

FULL

WE STILL HAVE SPOTS LEFT AS OF 11:31 MDT. JOIN US FOR A LIVELY DISCUSSION!

The Geo Flash Conference will be held TODAY:

October 14, 2016, at noon MDT

HOW TO JOIN: DM @PetersonGIS on twitter and if you are one of the first 20 to sign up I will send you a meeting link. 


WHAT: Join 20 of your fellow geospatial professionals for a 30 minute discussion including 3 or more short and informal talks.

PLATFORM: GoToMeeting. Supposedly you can now use GoToMeeting in-browser if you’re on Chrome. It used to be that you’d have to download the GoToMeeting software, and you still might, if the in-browser experience doesn’t work for you. Google Hangouts was not allowing enough people to join during my tests, so we had to go with GoToMeeting.

BE PART OF SOMETHING NEW: This is the very first time, to my knowledge that a “flash conference” has been held and for sure the very first time a “geo flash conference” has been held.

PROCEDURE: I will tweet at 11am on October 14 that a Geo Flash Conference is going to be held at noon. That allows one hour for the first 20 people to sign up. We will allow a maximum of 20 attendees but I am hoping that the fact that this is a very short-notice type of thing will keep our numbers small and conducive to conversation.

TODAY’S SPEAKERS: We’ll have Katie Kowalsky, Developer Advocate with Mapzen; Elliot Hartley, GIS Planner and Owner of Garsdale Design; and potentially two other speakers (possibly myself!).

TONE: Informal, spur-of-the-moment, geo learning opportunity. We will encourage conversations around the speaker’s topics. Attendees are not required to speak. If we have time left over we can have one or two speakers who weren’t scheduled.

MODERATOR: Gretchen will be keeping this on schedule and pertinent to geo.

LIMITATIONS: I must actually know you on twitter to join. If you aren’t on twitter and you know my email, you can use that to ask to join as well. If you don’t hear back, that means you weren’t one of the first 20.

 

Geonotes

September 14th, 2016

Yesterday’s “Ghost critique” post caused some consternation among readers who worried that I might be critiquing this or that map. Sorry about that. Perhaps a new format for that kind of crit is necessary such that I can use a bad map as a platform for learning but not call it out in any mean-spirited way. If anyone has ideas on that please let me know. In the meantime I’ll continue to at least post the good maps I find.

 

Not like this

Not like this

 

Something else that’s on my mind is a book project that I’d like to get started. I’m excited about it but what really matters is if I can get a fantastic agent to get excited about it too since this one has “big publisher” written all over it. Or it will if I/we can get started writing it (it’ll be a collaborative effort, don’t ask me to explain, we’re just trying to figure it out). You think you just want to make maps in this life and then you realize it’s about all kinds of stuff like finding a literary agent, writing blog posts, and retweeting owlish confidence boosters.

 

 


 
Speaking of tweets, I gathered a lot of tips via twitter today on using ArcGIS Online and passed them on in a 2 hour AGOL training session. Some favorites included

  • taking the time to plan a map before getting distracted by all the AGOL functionality
  • keeping in mind that AGOL is an interface for map services, which can be interacted with in other ways too
  • cleaning data before uploading it to AGOL
  • be purposeful about tags so you can find data more easily
  • contribute to the Living Atlas program

I decided that training should jump right into it with live demonstrations on adding data (we imported a shapefile and a csv), making a map and making an app. There were several good questions, like why you would want to make an app instead of a map (so you can add widgets).

And there was one particularly interesting part where a question was asked about the My Organization tab, and in my haste to answer it I clicked quickly on My Organization so I have no idea exactly what happened, but it basically came up with a screen telling us that there was no organization anymore. After my heart attack, I was able to get rid of this bug by logging out and logging back in again whereupon My Organization suddenly appeared again in all its statistical greatness.

 

dogsurprise

Hang tight

July 9th, 2016

*Update* The revision went live in all outlets the week of July 11, 2016!

I’m working furiously on a completely revised and updated version of City Maps: A Coloring Book for Adults

cattype

Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration