Mapping facebook

During the discussion after Prof. Monmonier’s talk, the conversation turned to facebook. The talk itself had outlined interesting links between 20th century restrictive cartography – redlining, gerrymandering, borders shifting to suit river avulsion – and 21st century ‘surveillance’ cartography. What to make of the ways we, mostly voluntarily, wayfind with technology, and thus inevitably make our location known? Who has access to this information? Are we all bound to be cyborgs? Is this all as sinister as it might seem?

Back to facebook – Prof. Monmonier wondered if a map of this social network had been made. Paul Butler has made one, and it’s quite beautiful and striking. The facebook world is a markedly Western one. Political boundaries appear through the technology’s ostensibly apolitical medium. And while the technology itself is motivated by the possibility that we might interact with one another without being in close proximity, its seemingly global reach is still limited.

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The map that made the grid

This interactive map overlay illustrates the ways that street gridding schemes were instrumental in shaping modern cities, often irrespective of natural impediments to development.

Related article: “200th Birthday for the Map that Made New York”, by Sam Roberts.

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Mark Monmonier Lecture, Wednesday April 6

Geography professor and cartographic historian Mark Monmonier will be coming to speak at the Geography Department colloquium next Wednesday. Last semester we assigned chapters from his most recent book, No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control. His talk is entitled: The Expansion of Imperative Cartography in the Twentieth Century and How Electronic Walls Might Reshape the Personal and Administrative Geographies of the Twenty-first Century.

575 McCone Hall, 4:10 – 5:10 PM

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Ward Shelley’s History of Sci-Fi

The following post, on Fast Company’s Co.Design site, discusses Ward Shelley‘s hand-drawn flowchart depicting the 2,500 years of intellectual history that have produced the modern sci-fi genre.

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‘The Wall inside the city’

(From the website

Berlin’s official website has a map of, and information about, the Berlin Wall. The map shows the Wall’s former course inside Berlin, along with its remains, traces, and memorial sites.

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‘Graphs, Maps, Trees’

An excerpt from Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees. Moretti’s book begins with an epigraph from Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities:

“A man who wants the truth becomes a scientist; a man who wants to give free play to his subjectivity may become a writer; but what should a man do who wants something in between?”

Here’s the opening paragraph of Moretti’s book:

“The title of this short book deserves a few words of explanation. To begin with, this is an essay on literary history: literature, the old territory (more or less), unlike the drift towards other discourses so typical of recent years. But within that old territory, a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs-graphs, maps, and trees-in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading’, I have once called this type of approach;’ where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models.”


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“Originality Compass”

The February 2011 issue of ‘The Believer’ features a diagram by Angie Waller entitled “Esoteric Concepts in Copyright Law,” which “frames various cases that have ruled on themes commonly found in conceptual work, nonfiction writing, and storytelling.”

Waller’s contributor bio in The Believer: Angie Waller is an artist based in New York. Her most recent series of limited edition prints and books illustrate the legal and ethical definitions of originality. You can find copies of these original works here.

The image at the top of this post is of Waller’s “Originality Compass.” From her website:

Originality Compass, 2010

Originality: Cases and Materials
Book: 11″ x 14″, 200 pages
Volvelle: 9.75″ diameter, die cut and letterpress
available as set or individually. limited edition.

Book and volvelle (wheel chart) that reconfigures twenty copyright infringement cases based on the objects in question. (For instance Art Rogers v. Jeff Koons becomes Puppies vs. String of Puppies.)

The book includes a wheel chart, Originality Compass, which abridges the cases to the essential judgements about originality. The court decisions presented in the compact scale of the disk provides a birds-eye view into the subjectivity of the arguments that vary on a case by case basis. In contrast to this, the wheel chart as a measuring device suggests that definitive answers are being provided.

Originality: Cases and Materials, the accompanying book, presents the case research for the Originality Compass wheel chart. The book consists of copies of the source material court cases with underlining and margin notes that highlight aesthetic contemplations in the court.

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Map Typography (via ‘Making Maps’ blog)

From a very interesting post on the Making Maps: DIY Cartography blog:

“The beauty of words on maps is often not evident, embedded, as they are, in an array of other symbols. A “word map” of South America (above), published by the Geographical Press in 1935, consists entirely of hand-lettered words. The map is supposed to show the labeled landforms of South America; this copy was erroneously printed without the landforms.”

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Visual Books (NYT book review)

Last year, the New York Times published this review of map books. A slide show accompanies the review online.

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Sze Tsung Leong’s ‘Cities’

The Morning News offers this interview with photographer Sze Tsung Leong, in which he characterizes his work in the following way:

“I look for high vantage points that will provide a tremendous and dense amount of visual information and where one can get an understanding of a city, similar to the way we can get an idea of how a city is laid out through a map, but with the added elements of space, light, form, color.”

(From The Morning News): In Sze Tsung Leong’s “Horizons,” the world appears flat, resting on a line. For his new series, “Cities,” opening this week at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York (Feb. 17 to April 2, 2011), Leong creates incredibly dense portraits from high vantage points that bind the world’s cities to his perspective—embracing and very open, though from a distance.

Sze Tsung Leong was born in Mexico City in 1970, spent his childhood in Mexico, Britain, and the United States, and is currently based in New York. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Deutsche Börse Art Collection, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others. In 2006, his book History Images was published by Steidl, who will also publish his next book Horizons in the fall of 2011.

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