Tuesday, 10 February 2015

President’s Bulletin for January 2015

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes and I can now announce that the 2015 BCS Symposium will be held in York on 9th and 10th September. The Programme Committee is delighted to announce that this year our Symposium has been combined with the Society of Cartographers’ Summer School and will be the:

BCS – SoC Conference 2015 entitled ‘Mapping Together’

Full details will be available on both Societies’ websites shortly and a call for papers and workshop suggestions is available at http://soc.org.uk/socbcs2015/, so if you would like to be involved please make sure that you register your interest early. We have held joint events in the past, the last being at Reading in 2003. As in previous years, there will be a day for Special Interest Group activities on Tuesday 8th September including a Mapathon organised by the GIS SIG. Last year this was based on data supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Map Curators Group and the Historical Military Mapping Group are also planning a joint event. The BCS-SoC Conference will run on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th September and the Annual Golf Tournament for the President’s Golden Ball will be held on Friday 11th September.

Have you produced any stunning cartography in the past 12 months? If so, we would love to see it and hope that you are considering entering it for the BCS Awards. Any product generated since 1st May 2014 is eligible and there are four separate categories to enter: The Stanfords Award; The OS Open Data Award; The John C Bartholomew Award; and The Avenza Award. The winners in each category then go head to head for the overall BCS Award, last year won by Lovell Johns for their Historic Map of York. Additionally there are young peoples’ awards for New Mapmakers and Schools. National Geographic who sponsored the New Mapmaker Award have withdrawn their sponsorship this year and it will be sponsored in the interim by the BCS until we can find a replacement sponsor. I would like to record my thanks to National Geographic for sponsoring the Award for many years and we are sorry to lose them.

Cartography on the web

A few months ago I posted a Victorian era map showing travel times from London around the world as colour bands on a world map. I did challenge anyone to produce an updated version and whilst nobody has yet done so, Ben Hennig at Oxford University, well known for his cartograms, has produced a map showing the world’s most remote locations. As I have been to Thule Air Base in Northern Greenland, it looks like I can claim to have visited one of the world’s most remote places.

Quite a good little application if you want to include some basic maps in presentations etc... and it is free. Details can be found at www.mapchart.net where there are maps of a few regions with more due to be added. The regional breakdown of the UK is interesting and might be more useful if it was based on counties, but it remains a simple resource for schools and beginners.
I think we all knew this anyway but the power and importance of mental maps is pulled out quite clearly in this article http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/without-mental-maps-we-re-lost-geographer-says-1.1429717.

GPS horror stories are well known but the consistent improvement in satnav capabilities and ironing out the nonsensical mistakes are making them more reliable. However, total reliance on a disembodied voice on your dashboard can be a mistake if you suddenly lose signal. The importance of actually knowing where you are remains paramount and even if you don’t have a paper map or road atlas to hand, the mental map based on the pre-planning of your journey and understanding where you should be can be a lifesaver.

One of the most recognisable representations of London is via its underground network, where distortions to locations aid clarity and interpretation. London Boroughs have now been given the ‘square’ treatment and I think it actually works well as a means of conveying complex information in a simple way, removing the geographical size differences of the boroughs whilst retaining the correct relative orientation in most cases. You can check out some of the variations at http://aftertheflood.co/projects/london-squared-map. Even if you are familiar with London Boroughs however, are you familiar with all the new names for certain parts of London? http://londonist.com/2015/01/london-rebranded-the-capitals-changing-names-mapped.php?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Londonist&utm_content=London%20Rebranded:%20The%20Capital%27s%20Changing%20Names,%20Mapped
To those of you who will miss the retiring Cartographic Journals editorials, fear not! There is a bonus one available via the carto nerd blog spot http://cartonerd.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/cartography-is-great-word.html. Ken highlights the role that cartography and cartographers can play and that we are not just there to create “pretty pictures”. When you see some of the examples of epic failures at this site, http://landkartenindex.blogspot.de/2014/11/mapfail-deluxe-landkartenfehler-in.html you can clearly see why our cartographic voice needs to heard louder and more clearly than ever before.

Special Interest Groups

It would appear that one of the ‘best kept secrets’ of the BCS might be the Special Interest Groups (SIGs), so over the next few months I will be highlighting the activities of each to make members, and non-members alike, more aware of their roles and activities. I am going to start with the GIS SIG, which as well as being a palindrome is probably the most self-explanatory. This SIG is primarily aimed at those using GIS to generate mapping products and it organises events aimed at both showcasing what GIS can do and also providing some cartographic underpinning for people who may have learned to use GIS but may have never received any formal cartographic training. GIS SIG members are frequent presenters at BCS Better Mapping Seminars and also run events around the country, with a new venture being BCS support of the Maptime initiatives which are beginning to be held in the UK. An innovation last year, which looks like becoming a regular feature at Symposia in the future, is the Mapathon. The basic idea is for anyone interested to turn up with their own laptop, running whatever GIS software they utilise and they are given a dataset from which to generate outputs, which are then reviewed and critiqued at the end of the day. Last year we worked with data provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and 20 people attended, working in teams of 3 or 4 to produce a wide range of innovative outputs. We will be holding another Mapathon at the Symposium in York and we also hope to organise one at Ordnance Survey in late Spring.

Unusual Maps

While you do find maps in some rather unusual places, I haven’t seen one on a pasty before and certainly not one this big. It was made by the head chef at the Eden Project ahead of the World Pasty Championships to be held on 28th February. I left the Sherlock paragraph in as it ties back to my Presidential address at last year’s Symposium where I compared Cartographers to Sherlock as high functioning sociopaths. It looks like we have also both had a popularity surge with Sherlock topping iPlayer viewing figures and BCS Membership topping 700.


BCS Member Gwilym Eades from Royal Holloway University has recently published ‘Maps and Memes’ which looks at how maps and cartography have long been used in the lands and resources offices of Canada's indigenous communities in support of land claims and traditional-use studies. Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, it can be ordered at http://www.mqup.ca/maps-and-memes-products-9780773544499.php.

And Finally

A direct quote from the BBC website, “…..is a thing of beauty, with a wonderfully tightly packaged rear end”, referring to?

Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog

10th February 2015

E-mail: peter.jones991@mod.uk

Twitter: @geomapnut

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