University of Oxford acquires rare map of Middle-earth annotated by Tolkien

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The Bodleian Libraries at Oxford acquired a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien, "which reveals his remarkable vision of the creatures, topography and heraldry of his imagined world where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place. The annotated map went unseen for decades until October 2015 when Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford put the map on display and offered it for sale."

(Thanks, Gary Price!) Read the rest

Mapbox: up-to-date satellite imagery

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Google Maps and similar services are most useful, but who has the most recent space footage of your neighborhood? Check out mapbox, a Landsat viewer that tells you when the satellite image you're looking at was taken, and when a new snap is scheduled. The zoom level really isn't useful for anything at a life-lived level – with the exception of recent weather, disasters, etc – but all services should expose metadata like this. Read the rest

More Google Earth anomalies

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Artist Clement Valla collects the most remarkable machine-vision nightmares and curiosities from Google Earth, a world whose parallels to our own become uncannier with each sweep of the satellites and Googlecars. [Previously. via] Read the rest

Tube map of "lost" London

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London is a ghost of all the things that were once there, and The Lost London Tube Map shows off some of the most famous forgotten landmarks. Biscuit Town and Bedlam are long gone, but others (like Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens) are still around to be rediscovered.

Some losses are definitely for the best. Few would welcome back the public horror of Tyburn gallows, or the miserable Marshalsea Prison. Other losses are a cause of some regret: Euston Arch and the Astoria, for example. Imagine a city where Whitehall Palace still stands, and Old London Bridge yet straddles the Thames. Of course, we're barely scratching the surface. We've not included the Overground or DLR, and have limited the scope to (roughly) zone 1. A whole heap of buildings such as Watkin's Folly and the White City Olympic stadium are left out, and we don't have room to include all the important stuff lost from central London.

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A Europe of city-states

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This neat map presents Europe not as a collection of countries but as a diagram of its largest cities; the accompanying post argues that large cities effectively transcend their host nations and will become the 21st century's geopolitical order.
not all urban areas are growing at the same speed — or are growing at all. All of Italy's and Greece's urban centres are losing inhabitants, as are the Ruhr and Katowice, Ostrava and Bucharest. Biggest winners? Istanbul and Ankara, plus two other Turkish cities, and Brussels and Amsterdam — all gaining more than 2 percent p.a. Growing more modestly, at 1 percent, are the English and Scandinavian cities
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_applyChinaLocationShift: In China, national security means that all the maps are wrong

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Chinese law makes independent mapmaking a crime (you may not document "the shapes, sizes, space positions, attributes, etc. of man-made surface installations") and requires tech companies to randomly vary the locations of all landmarks by 100-500m. Read the rest

The Eastern Question follows a 9-11 trail of hatred going back thousands of years

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

After the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Ted Danforth, the owner of a print shop in lower Manhattan, wondered why. Why did these attacks happen? Who is Osama bin Laden and why did he hate America? What was the history leading up to this tragedy and what about the future of the world as we know it? Through extensive research, Danforth discovered the answers were not so simple. One answer led to many more questions and Danforth soon discovered that the trail of hate, revenge, partnerships, mistrust, conquests and cultural differences went back thousands of years.

To try to make some sense of this long history of conflict, Danforth created The Eastern Question, a soft cover coffee table sized book containing text and over 108 hand-drawn watercolor maps and illustrations. The information is dense but Danforth uses metaphors and easy-to-follow stories that help explain the "Geopolitical Dynamics” of Eastern and Western history starting from AD 565.

The Eastern Question will no doubt appeal to the historian, but with drawings and maps reminiscent of cartoons from The New Yorker, non-historians can pick up some great information too. – Carole Rosner

The Eastern Question by Ted Danforth Anekdota 2015, 264 pages, 8.4 x 11 x 1 inches (softcover) $30 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Be Expert with Map & Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook

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Be Expert with Map and Compass has been in print for more than fifty years and remains one of the standard guides on land navigation and orienteering. In easy-to-follow sections, the book lays out how to dependably navigate by compass, read and interpret a topographical map, set way points and bearings for extended hikes, give map instructions in a standardized format so others can follow your route, and much more. Each section is accompanied by practice exercises that are well-suited for use by a family or a group of varyingly experienced navigators. The latter third of the book is devoted to explaining the sport of orienteering, which seems like a fun combination of a cross-country run and a treasure hunt.

I was tragically born without a sense of direction, so much of this book was a revelation to me. Also – in a surprising synchronicity – the practice topographical map included in the back was from an area I had hiked just a few days before finding this title at a library sale!

I read the 1994 edition for this review, but the book was revised in 2009 with GPS information and updated web resources. If you just want the skills promised by the title, the early editions can be had for a few dollars (and you can save the rest to buy a compass). – William Smith of Hangfire Books

Be Expert with Map & Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook by Björn Kjellström Wiley 2009, 256 pages, 8.2 x 9.9 x 1.5 inches $13 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Ordnance Survey map of Mars

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Ordnance Survey, Britain's official mapping agency, has made available for download a massive map of Mars in its classic style.

The planet Mars has become the latest subject in our long line of iconic OS paper maps. The one-off map, created using NASA open data and made to a 1:4,000,000 scale, is made to see if our style of mapping has potential for future Mars missions.

Sadly, they're not selling it in foldable print map form. They should!

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Classic cartographic techniques to map out music, gaming, and the net

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Martin Vargic, the 17-year-old cartographic wunderkind from Slovakia responsible for the "Map of Stereotypes" that went viral last year, has done some seriously fine work in this collection of highly-detailed, thoroughly researched and beautiful maps. While some are factual maps based on data and infographic in nature, many are the product of Vargic's imagination, research, and incredible information organization skills. He uses classic cartographic techniques to map out abstract landscapes like music, gaming and the internet.

As Vargic says in the introduction of the book, drawing something out as a map gives you a unique opportunity to present many different metrics of visual information all at once. Charting maps of these systems, landscapes, and fields of culture provides so many dimensions for the reader to dig into and analyze: the size, color, geographic traits, and bordering territories of each region offer a new way to think about all of the pieces in relation to one another. Every page is filled with hundreds of opportunities to pick up some trivia (e.g. "Subway has forty-three thousand locations worldwide"), inspire a quick Google (e.g. "Wait, 'baroque pop' is a thing?"), or jog a memory (e.g. "Aww, I miss Encyclopedia Britannica!"). Flipping the book open to a random page can almost be a little disorienting, because there's just so much to look at. This is the perfect book to look through with a friend or two, pouring over the maps together to discuss, debate and learn. Read the rest

Superb investigative report on the fake locksmith scam

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If you've ever locked yourself out of your home and googled for a locksmith, you've seen that it's virtually impossible to reach a real local locksmith. Read the rest

Map shows countries that are due east or west from any spot in the Western Hemisphere

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What surprised me about this map is how far north the UK and Portugal are. The UK is above the continental US, and I would have thought Portugal would be closer to Mexico's latitude. [via] Read the rest

Who is the most corrupt of them all? 2016's international rankings out

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Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perception Index, an international ranking of where the government graft grows. Read the rest

Doppler radar weather map of the entire contiguous United States

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radar.weather.gov's "full loop" depicts the whole of the contiguous United States and is thereby useful for your winter weather anxiety needs regardless of where you reside. Above is a detail of the horrid weather currently being endured by Florida. Read the rest

Gorgeous infographics from the 19th century

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At the dawn of the 19th century, naturalist Alexander von Humboldt invented the "thematic map," pioneering infographics through the likes of maps annotated with zoological life, temperature, elevations, and other data meant to present an area's "physical phenomena into one image," according to this profile on Atlas Obscura.

Above, "a plate from Atlas of Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos, illustrating the composition of the Earth's crust via color-coding."

Below, "a snowflake of clocks illustrates world time zones, with Dresden at the center. "

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Animated map shows the Civil War's front lines in 5 minutes

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Watch the U.S. Civil War unfold a day at a time in this animated map. The creator, EmperorTigerstar, attempted to represent every single day's movements in the front lines, resulting in a fascinating view of the conflict. He's made many more just like it. See your favorite war from a completely dehumanized perspective!

It's strange how some of the most superficially spectacular gains and losses on land were mostly side-events to more important battles. To look at this map, you'd guess the critical events of October 1862 happened somewhere in Kentucky. On the other hand, Sherman's March to the Sea is like OMGGGGGGGG it's all over now. [via] Read the rest

Yet another unofficial New York Subway map redesign

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Wonkblog explains "why designers can’t stop reinventing the subway map." It's an abstraction problem generally solved by Read the rest

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