Neocartography on BBC 5 Live


Whilst I was on a long weekend break in Cornwall I got an email from the producer of the Outriders radio show for BBC Radio 5 Live, saying “We cover hacking and making, digital culture and people who do intriguing things with technology. Basically more of a culture show rather than a gadget show ….. For the next program I am exploring maps and cartography. While reading up on this I came across the term neocartography and of course the [ICA] Commission and you.”

Whilst it was not that convenient I replied to say I would do it (it HAD to be recorded over the weekend). It was to be done by phone or Skype. Although in a remote village in SW England with no mobile phone reception, the wifi was good, so I set time aside for a Skype call, which they recorded for later editing.

I rambled on about neocartography, OSM Haiti, the OS, my work, map design, and more. Unfortunately it had to be cut to fit, so detailed comments around OpenStreetMap and the interesting Haiti earthquake work hit the virtual cutting room floor.

It was broadcast quite late last night, but is available as a podcast (and best played directly from the BBC website rather than downloading). The other contributors were Graham Duncan from Ordnance Survey (on their Minecraft work, following some OS internships), and Saman Bemel Benrud from Mapbox (on creative digital maps).

Future of Digital Mapping

Neocartography Commission vice-chair Andrew Turner interviewed on a podcast for CBC. In it Nora Young and Andrew Turner discuss the future of digital mapmaking. Andrew is CTO of the Esri Research and Development Center in Washington, D.C. where he’s involved with open tools for mapmaking. It is a good conversation covering a lot of ground – open data, how the big players are changing, and how social aspects have changed.

Mapmaking is in the news again, particularly with developments like the report on the BBC website today – ‘Nokia Maps digitises streets to battle Google’s threat‘. Andrew finishes the interview with positive thoughts on the future (and I have paraphrased/edited here): “We will all be guiding it. We have a much bigger voice now. Whether commenting or choosing to use particular maps or not. We have the tools to build maps. I am going to make my own. The maps we have will become much more visceral and portray what we would like to see“.


Year of the Open Map

Various people have been throwing about phrases like “year of the Open Map” and “rolling your own map tiles” recently. This has been in response to the announcement at the end of October that Google Maps was to charge for usage. From 1 January Google has been charging for the Google Maps API service when more than the limit of 25,000 map “hits” are made in a day, a situation that many websites such as travel firms and estate agents will easily face. Over Christmas property search engine Nestoria came out with the news that they were switching in a blog posting by Ed Freyfogle entitled Why (and how) we’ve switched away from Google Maps which gives some very good background reasoning, and the route taken (OSM to MapQuest to Leaflet to Mapstraction). On Jan 9 Wired picked up on this and carried an extensive article entitled Open Source Maps Gain Ground as Google Paywall Looms which has a pretty good analysis of the OpenStreetMap, Mapquest and Bing/Microsoft positions in all of this. Following on from that there has been a really excellent post entitled Good bye, Google Maps… thanks for all the fish from Sebastian Delmont (which rather deliciously is in Google+). This explains in detail why his company StreetEasy have gone down the  OpenStreetMap, TileMill, MapBox and Leaflet route for their map switch. What is even more useful is the comprehensive exploration of the options and the fantastic number of useful URLs. An earlier blog posting from Fubra also covers some alternative maps such as Bing, Ovi and OS OpenSpace. So, if you are interested in what the options are then read these posts. If you’re in London, why not go to the next #geomob event on 16 February where Ed Freyfogle will be giving a talk about their move away from Google Maps.
UPDATE: Although my original take was on availability and deployment of online maps, Steven Feldman’s blog post on “The beginning of the end of Free?” is worth a look as it goes a little more into the economics.
UPDATE: The OpenStreetMap community (coordinated by Richard Fairhurst) has compiled a switch2osm website which clearly explains the whys and hows of changing.

The year in cartography reviewed

Now that the Commission is in place the plan is for myself and the vice-chairs to disseminate information that meets the aims we have set out. We will be using this blog/website to link to resources, to compile both a bibliography and a research listing, and to list events linked to the Commission or that further it’s aims.

This post highlights some of the content of a presentation I gave this week at the Society of Cartographers annual conference, entitled “The year in cartography reviewed”. The presentation was a personal reflection on the last year, and highlighted just some of the developments in the mapping world that intrigued or inspired me.

The content ranged from Resources (Mapbox and Shaded Relief Archive), through Blogs (Mapping London), to Visualisations (Decade of news visualised), and Threads (Typographic Maps).

UPDATE: All the URLs from “The year in cartography reviewed“.
More from the conference (inc photos, videos):
Harry Wood’s blog post on the conference