Forty Years of Planning the Future of Manchester: The Key Plans from 1926-1967

MCR Plans

“A series of key public planning documents and maps relating to the city of Manchester and its regional context have been digitised and made freely available for the first time. These eight historic Plans span the central decades of the twentieth century with the first published in 1926 and the last in 1967.”

Martin Dodge and Joe Blakey have digitized a variety of plans and maps that have shaped the city of Manchester. They are available to view here.

Designs on Signs / Myth and Meaning in Maps (1986)

“Never mind drought, Autumn, and acid rain, and never mind the cubic miles of eroded silt that choke our rivers. In the map, our forests glow with the robust verdure of a perpetual Spring afternoon and even the Mississippi shines with a pristine Caribbean blue.”

A great quote I had to share from Denis Wood and John Fels’ ‘Designs on Signs / Myths and Meaning in Maps’ in Cartographica from way back in 1986. You haven’t read about maps if you haven’t read Denis’ work. This is a typically engrossing article that begins with a look at the ‘North Carolina Official Highway Map / 1978-79’ and ends with a discussion of the ‘intrasignificant’ codes of maps (iconic, linguistic, tectonic, temporal, presentational) as well as ‘sign functions’ (the relationships maps’ create). You might have guessed from the terminology (icons, codes, signs etc.) as well as the title (‘myth and meaning’), that it is heavily indebted to Roland Barthes.  You can download the paper from Wood’s website here.

A recent reflective piece by Wood and Fels on that paper was printed in the Martin Dodge edited book Classics in Cartography (2011). Again, you can download it from Wood’s homepage here.

Minding the Gap in Cartography: from maps to mapping practices

Fiona Ferbrache with a short discussion of Kitchin et al.’s (2012) latest TIBG paper.

Geography Directions

by Fiona Ferbrache

If the biologist’s iconic tool of the trade is a microscope, then the geographer’s might well be a map.  Both tools offer an alternative perspective of the world, but unlike the microscope, which enlarges for the biologist, the map serves the geographer through reduction.  Maps and processes of mapping are the topics of enquiry in a TIBG paper by Kitchin, Gleeson and Dodge (2012) – one of the latest pieces of work on cartography by these authors.

For those unfamiliar with the scholarly literature, it is perhaps assumed that “a map is unquestionably a map” (Kitchin et al. 2012:2) – something that exists to measure and represent the world, even through its different forms.  For example, the London Tube map, celebrated this year as part of the 150-year anniversary of London Underground, is a topographical map showing connections between stations, rail lines and fare zones.  This is…

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Creepy cartography

A whirlwind introduction to the world of digital mapping technologies over at The Guardian today. Lots of predictable quotes, here are some of a selection;

‘The transition to print gave far more people access to maps. The transition to ubiquitous digital mapping accelerates and extends that development – but it is also transforming the roles that maps play in our lives.’  Jerry Brotton (academic) on the speed of technological change.

‘Before [Google Maps launched], we were on that old Mapquest thing – that was just an interface for loading a static map, really. But then Google… comes along, and suddenly you feel like you’re in this seamless interactive environment.’ David Heyman (map company founder) on interactivity.

‘The map is mapping us…[and] I am quite suspicious and cynical about products that appear to be innocent and neutral, but that are actually vacuuming up all kinds of behavioural and attitudinal data.’ Martin Dodge (academic) on data ethics

‘People should be free of the worry of some hi-tech peeping tom technology violating one’s privacy when in your own home.’ Chuck Schumer (Senator) on digital privacy

‘Every map… is someone’s way of getting you to look at the world his or her way.’ Lucy Fellowes (curator) on maps as political tools.

Scroll down the article to see ‘how technology is making us mentally flabby‘ (ha).