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 recently read 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

Map Communication

Map communication model

Cartography is an art and a science, and has strong links to many fields, from geography to graphic arts. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that a map may imbue the character of the authoring cartographer. [ … ]

Elements of a Map

Elements of a map

When discussing the fundamental elements of a map we are more often than not referring to the visual presentation, or composition, of the map. [ … ]

Writing a Mapping Brief

CARTOGRAPHERS (map designers) work like many others engaged in design fields—they need clear briefs. Not only does a clear brief help the cartographer, but more importantly, it helps you structure your thoughts and clarify objectives. [ … ]

Sketchfab

I’ve posted this article for no more reason than to demonstrate one of the best and easiest to use browser-based 3D viewers available, not to mention an excellent resource of 3D models—Sketchfab. [ … ]

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. [ … ]

Heightfield 3D Model

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

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