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September 10, 2009

Map Geek: Northism, Cognitive Maps, Friday Gallery Opening

I am a map geek, and I most appreciate a map that depicts reality in a new way and helps you to interact/navigate more effectively.

The NYTimes just wrote about people making maps (and art) out of their own travels, using GPS and various software packages. I've been enjoying mapping my bicycle rides for a while.


I just came across the notion of "upside down maps", which demonstrates what maps might look like if we weren't fond of "northism", the assumption that north is at the top of the map. Northism is just an assumption, it doesn't have to be that way.

Originally, East was the primary direction of a map (that's why we say, I need to get oriented). This was due to a few factors - that's where the sun comes up, after all, and Jerusalem was considered the center of the Occidental world for a very long time.

Compasses point north, they say, and that started Northism. Then the lat/long grid was focused on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England, and that coordinate system reinforced Northism.

Non-Northist Map of Earth

Here's a map that offers a non-Northist view of the world:

Map of Web 2.0

To kick it into meta, maps are explanations of lacunae, of cognitive space. For instance, this is a map of web social communities:

Do you know how when you meet somebody and they say they're from New Jersey, the response is "oh, what exit"? The author/artist of the above web map comments in his alt-text, I'm waiting for the day when, if you tell someone 'I'm from the internet', instead of laughing they just ask 'oh, what part?'

Map of Humanity

Here's a map of humanity (click for large-size, opens in new window, must be seen to be appreciated). You'll see that Miami, New Orleans, and Amsterdam are on the coast of the continent of Hedonism, on the shores of Sensualist Bay. It's really a brilliant work, weaving cities and literature in a way I haven't seen before (which is the mark of a great map, seeing something in a new way).

Allegorical Map of Success

Kudos to commenter Jim Russell, for pointing out the map of success. (edit)

Pittsburgh Map Gallery Opens Friday

Last weekk the Trib-Review covered the opening of Shaw Galleries, a Pittsburgh antique map and fine art shop at 805 Liberty Avenue. Their Grand Opening Party is Friday, September 11th, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Here's the map from their home page:

Excellent Map Geek Blogs:
The Map Room


C. Briem said...

It goes beyond the compass rose, but good stuff at:

Jim Russell said...

IMO, the best maps blog out there:

Don Brown said...

I assume you saw this on "The West Wing"...

Nice post, as always.

Don Brown

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