Visual Thinking

Having been embedded within graphic design and cartography for 30 years now, one recurring disappointment for me is the amount of ‘new’ conceptual and theoretical thinking, and object creation, that really is not new. In recent times, I have read numerous articles and attended talks that expound new ideas and approaches that simply are not; allegedly new cartographic techniques that were, in reality, evident in works of 100 years ago; a new design approach, again recognised to have originated in the 60s, etc, etc, etc. This seems to be down to one thing—reading, or lack of!

I can only assume current education and practice pays little attention to the past any more. The historical basis to most disciplines provides a rich and significant theoretical context for the present, yet clearly practitioners do not seem to research and read up on their subject—and this is the real issue—thereby wasting time re-inventing the wheel. For example, studying design history (synchronic and diachronic) provides a deeper understanding of the subject and ultimately, a better informed outcome today.

With that in mind, I am currently reading a classic design book from 1972, Experiences in visual thinking, by Robert H McKim. It has been republished a couple of times, but I was pleased to track down an original version in excellent condition. It is still so relevant today and also revealing of the thought processes and knowledge at that time.

Pick up an old book and read it—there’s still a lot to learn from the past.

August, 2018

Illustreets

No sooner had I picked up on one new online mapping framework, the OS Open Zoomstack, than another appears! Illustreets follows the usual formula, but with each new framework that gets released

OS Open Zoomstack

The world of online mapping frameworks moves apace! Now, even the monolithic mapping organisation, the Ordnance Survey, is involved. In July, they launched OS Open Zoomstack, providing vector tiles of their open data themes.

Visual Thinking

Having been embedded within graphic design and cartography for 30 years now, one recurring disappointment for me is the amount of ‘new’ conceptual and theoretical thinking, and object creation, that really is not new.

kepler.gl

Uber—who would thought—have released kepler.gl, an open-source geospatial toolbox. It’s designed to provide the easiest way of visualising geospatial data and gaining useful insights.

Cartograms

Not to be confused with Mapbox’s nonsensical hijacking of the term for creating colour styles, cartograms are extraordinary map types. The relaunch of Worldmapper in April 2018 celebrates this form of mapping.

Google Earth

When it was first released 16 years ago, it was an incredible virtual experience to be able to travel around the globe and look at anywhere in a level of detail previously not seen, and it still is today!

National Geographic

Since the very first issue in 1888, the National Geographic magazine has been the benchmark for quality researched articles supported by well-crafted graphics.

Heightfields

There is always an aspect of work that emerges out of error, experimentation and/or serendipity.

Big Data Visualisation

Visualisations of ‘big data’ have been commonplace over the last few years, though their is still much debate to be had about the value of many of them beyond their visually interesting presentation.

A Monitor for a Cartographer?

Screen estate and colour are very important to a cartographer. Maps can be any size from A6 to more than 5m×5m square.

An Open-source World

Over the last few years we have seen the release of numerous mapping platforms/frameworks to allow the manipulation and representation of open-source mapping and other spatial data.

OS Maps – the App

Recently, the Ordnance Survey (OS) updated an app for both mobile and desktop devices that utilises their 1:25,000 Explorer and 1:50,000 Landranger maps—classic OS mapping at it’s best.

Swiss National Mapping

Swiss topography has long been regarded as the epitome of this form of mapping, often characterised by the iconic hill shading techniques of the late Eduard Imhof, professor of cartography at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Relief Shading, Part I

As we seem to be moving in to presentational modes where 3D (mapping) is becoming ever more commonplace, enabled by software and hardware advances, it is relevant to look back

Mac Pro 5,1 resurrected?

I decided to raise the bar on my workstation and go for something with a little more grunt, and that would be up to the job for the next 2–3 years.