Friday, 12 March 2021

ordinance survey

Similar to the application that allows one to listen to Wikipedia being edited, amended and improved in real time, the always excellent Maps Mania introduces us to the chimes and tintinnabulation of OpenStreetMap. As with the former whose collaborative success inspired the latter, because of all the contributors globally, the update process plays a continual and emergent tune. Learn more at the links above. 



A devoted cartographer of Heaven and Earth, William Fairfield Warren of Boston University mapped out in 1915, his last work after earnestly sourcing Paradise Found to the North Pole, the Universe according to John Milton’s Paradise Lost (previously here and here), extracting, teasing the subtle cartography of Eden and Hell and empyrean Heaven out of the epic poem overlaid with terrestrial correspondence (see also) with a rigour that indeed makes the accounting of angels dancing on the head of a pin an academic exercise. Thinking that there a possibility for bias and that illustrations were imperfect and prejudicial, Warren paired his diagrams back for a straightforward T-O map (orbis terrarium) look but there are more elaborate depictions of Miltonic cosmology from contemporaries at Public Domain Review at the link up top for comparison.

Friday, 19 February 2021


seven minutes of terror: Perseverance lands on Mars, beginning its search for signs of past life  

cyborg tomato: AI Weirdness (previously) generates its own mascot—plus others  

polar flare: examining every map projection and how it distorts our world view at once—see previously  

simon says: a vast archives of electronic handheld and table-top games and consoles from decades past—via Swiss Miss  

fabian society: capitalism coexists with constructivism in Czech city of Zlรญn  

hello world: the newest Martian probe beams back its first images

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

safe countries of origin

Surreal and more than a bit menacing—via Maps Mania—we are referred to No Fly Free Zone and its regular recitation of flight guidelines and entry-restrictions and rule-making exceptions issued by the International Air Transportation Association for member states. The globe with air routes is interactive and a public-address system jingle is used to punctuate announcements.

Saturday, 6 February 2021


high dive: Casa Zicatela in the Oaxaca coastal region references Le Corbusier and the retro look of municipal swimming pools 

rip: legendary actor Christopher Plummer (*1929) has passed away 

polar flare: visualising the true size of terrestrial landmasses through cartographic distortion plus mapping countries as offworld colonies  

gulf stream: lack of circulation during ice ages past may have meant the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans had fresh water 

dataviz: sleek, informative infographics by the Great Grundini  

rรฉseau pneumatique: an exploration of the pneumatic postal system of Paris—see also  

hq2: a preview of the new Amazon headquarters (previously) building in Arlington, Virginia

Tuesday, 26 January 2021


paradiplomacy: an intricate Tajik teahouse in Boulder, Colorado  

nivotone: brilliant restoration of a 1930s Soviet optical-analogue, electronic music synthesis—via Things  

❄️: a snowflake generator—see previously 

soon may the wellerman come: more sea shanties—see previously  

twitchable: discovering a drive for birding under lockdown  

topographic prominence: an interactive version of Switzerland’s 1845 Dufour Survey Map from Maps Mania, see also 

putin’s palace: a gallery of photographs and digital renderings from blueprints of luxury property that is allegedly the Russian president’s personal retreat

this day in colonial history

Commemorated as Australia Day, the First Fleet under the command of Admiral Arthur Philip arrived in Sydney Harbour to found the first permanent British settlement on the continent in 1788. This is also the 1841 anniversary of the formal possession of Hong Kong when Commodore Gordon Bremer arriving at a headland (since moved inland due to coastal reclamation) named Possession Point, the former park developed as a hotel and in the 1980s with the terminal for ferry service to Macau. Finally in 1855, the Point No Point was signed under considerable duress on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula (so named for its appearance from a distance as a promontory but receding as one nears it) in the territory of Washington, with the original inhabitants, the Skokomish, Chimakum and S’Klallam peoples, ceding their land in exchange for a small reservation, concession along the Hood fjord.

Monday, 28 December 2020

like the back of your hand

We always enjoy a cartographical challenge round but of course don’t always excel with a random destination or especially remote outliers that do not really test one’s general or specialised geographic knowledge.  

And so we appreciated this novel quiz from Maps Mania that lets you choose familiar environs and prove how well you know your neighbourhoods. There are no thoroughfare, street or road names (see also) until you check your guesses, and it’s not too forgiving if you are more than a kilometre off, taking me several tries to get my orientation correct. Cities and towns world-wide are available for exploration.

Saturday, 26 December 2020


Being a committed and rather incurable flรขneur myself, learning about the playful praxis that combines elements of anarchy and the surreal in urban exploration and understanding how built environments and pathways influence residents and guests struck me as engrossing and endearing for its vagaries of association and membership.

One central tenet—though more nuanced than I am describing it—is that of dรฉrive, drift, and how we’re attracted to those zones that conform to our neighbourhood and comforts and to let oneself go and take a penny-hike like I used to do (and still sometimes at an unknown crossroads) and flip a coin at a corner to decide if you’ll proceed right of left. Of course, proper reconnaissance admits more directions and apparently there’s an app for that too. Societies once dedicated to this movement that I could find seem to have gone inactive in the past few years but organised activities including loitering with intent, scavenger hunts, immersive challenges and workshops that called out gentrification, overtourism and eroding public transportation schemes as well as unearthed the legacy and vestigial signs of the architecture of exclusion. It seems like a good time to revive interest and start our own psychogeographical chapters.

Sunday, 20 December 2020


before times: one narrative of 2020 as told through fifteen objects and artefacts—see previously

marsha, marsha, marsha: Trump acknowledges months’ long cyber-attack on US government networks for first time—oddly defensive about Russian involvement 

systemic bias: when bad decisions are blamed on algorithms, bad actors are exculpated and trust in science erodes  

breakthrough listen: musing on the nature of signal detected from Proxima Centauri by the Murriyang Radio Telescope 

tape/slide newsreel group and friends: brilliant early 80s photo archive showing Hackney to Hackney—via the splendiferous Things Magazine   

engineer, agitator, constructor: the visual vernacular of utopian graphic design  

creek and culvert: the movement to resurface and revive long buried urban waterways—see previously  

off-limits: virtually visit nine sites not accessible to the public in Washington, DC 

a modern hanukah miracle: there are extra doses of vaccine in each vial—stretching out supplies to inoculate twice as many individuals than expected

Thursday, 17 December 2020


kankyล ongaku: the ambient music (see also) of Hiroshi Yoshimura 

solstice sun: locate where and when in your locality where the streets align with the sun’s path at dawn and dusk as they do for Stonehenge—see also  

star with royal beauty bright: afterwards, check the skies for the Great Conjunction where Jupiter and Saturn appear as one celestial body  

solarwind: a look into the extensive cyber breach of US government networks and what information may have been compromised  

blob opera: a fun experiment with a musical quartet—via Boing Boing

Friday, 11 December 2020


repetition: an exploration of built-environments as an audio-visual landscape of infinite regression  

a pigment of our imagination: the illusory nature of colour  

nationally determined contributions: European Union agrees to more than halve its carbon emissions by 2030—via Slashdot 

awesome sauce: a safari-pak of canned-meats from 1967 

road gritters: track Scotland’s fleet of snow-plows in real time by name  

training a generation of future karens: this scholastic kids books series are clearly coding adults as happy and confident with their life choices as monsters and misfits—via Super Punch 

a universe of imagination: revisiting a classic and inspiring documentary (previously) on cosmology on its sixtieth anniversary

Monday, 7 December 2020


Striking us as in the same spirit of the Scottish law prohibiting the use of inset maps to portray the nation’s widely scattered archipelagos—or as one commenter related, the omission of New Zealand altogether, we appreciated being directed to this latest xkcd comic from Randall Monroe (see previously) on the non-conterminous parts of the United States, weary of being excluded or forgotten, have begun to publish maps with mainland states missing too. Can you find all seven missing ones out of this otherwise accurate-appearing map?

Thursday, 26 November 2020


surrogate: Trump issues pardon to former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pled guilty twice to making false statements to the FBI involving his Russian connections 

thermochromic: windows go from transparent to tinted while generating electricity  

l’atlas: an intriguing new approach to mapping France’s natural glory—via Things Magazine 

 : reimagining the Queen’s Gambit as a MS DOS PC game 

fry guys: one intrepid connoisseur revives a long lost recipe  

stonks: only pausing to take credit for and praise the teetering high of the Dow Jones, Trump presents a very abbreviated brief

Wednesday, 11 November 2020


langue and parole: a poly-lingual whistle-stop tour illustrating what foreign languages sound like to non-speakers   

a critical tourism map: whilst most visitors’ guides are irrepressibly positive about their attractions, this revealing map of the Norwegian capital hopes to make people think about the darker side of the past—via Big Think 

in this world: an hour of cool Soviet era jazz

test pilots: first human passengers take a ride in the experimental, levitating hyperloop (previously) in the desert of Nevada 

ohrwurm: you’re welcome—see previously    

mnemosyne: an iterative technique to vastly improve recall (see previously)—from the illustrious Mx van Hoorn’s curio cabinet

the ephemeralist: selecting random pages from archives of thousands of old publications, this bit of coding seems as good a substitute for social media as any—via Kicks Condor

the word rooster is an eighteenth century American invention to avoid saying the word ________:  an educational and invigorating swear quiz from Helen Zaltzman

Friday, 6 November 2020


photos veritables: antique pre-prepared vacation picture albums  

necessitous men are not free men: FDR’s 1944 second, more equitable Bill of Rights 

conformal cyclic cosmology: Nobel winning astrophysicist Roger Penrose shares his Universe origin hypothesis 

la sape: Tariq Zaida documents the fashion of the sapeurs and sapeuses of Brazzaville and Kinshasa—reminding me of this other subculture  

author, poet, composer: the amazing virtuosity of Gordon Parks 

das neue europa mit dem dauernden frieden: revisiting an early proposal for the European Union, divided into Kantons converging on Vienna (previously

dss43: Deep Space Communication Complex re-establishes link with Voyager 2 

scarfolk & environs: a road & leisure map for uninvited tourist

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

take the a-train

Via the ever-engrossing Kottke, we learn that the New York City transit authority has just released its new digital subway map—which relays information in real-time and shows the progress of trains through the system. The new commission is a cartographical compromise between the straightforward geo-spatial representation of the print-version by Michael Hertz and Unimark normally referenced and the more relational work by Massimo Vignelli that combines the best features of both.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020


From the same source as our previous post, we are really enjoying exploring this extensive, exhaustive collection of historic maps and surveys and finding our little pocket of the world through the ages. Easy and intuitive, see if you can find yourself in this cartographic collection and how much things have changed and/or remained the same. Here we are annotated on two different catalogues of the Henneberger holdings in the seventeenth century.


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

plus codes

Though a fan of this other service for its poetically charming toponymy, it is probably more ultimately practical and cross-platform compatible (I think there’s room for both) to assign physical addresses to all points on the globe based on established degrees of longitude and latitude in a short but perhaps not as mnemonically catchy sequence of numbers and letters. Read more about this open-source initiative from Google at Design Boom at the link above.

Thursday, 24 September 2020


globus polski: an uncanny geopolitical representation 

hollands venetiรซ: revisiting the enchanting village of Giethoorn—previously here and here  

youtube enthusiast: Ruben Bolling (previously) illustrates a day in the life of Trump’s America  

the colour of pomegranates: Lady Gaga’s visual homage to the Armenian filmmarker Sergei Parajanov

kirie: artist Lito experiments with the ancient Japanese art ofๅˆ‡ใ‚Š็ตต, cut pictures  

flattening out: an illustration of how map projections distort our view of the world—see previously