26 Sep 2008

Map of the Month: Sep 08 - Geological Map Jigsaw

When converted into a jigsaw puzzle, a map becomes purely decorative and a source of wonderful time-wasting. It’s refreshing that maps don’t always have to be earnest.
Map jigsaws have a magnetic hold over me. In my time I’ve given away jigsaws of chocolate-box tourist scenes (always with boring blue sky or thick trees), and great art, and baked beans - but never a map one.

5th ed. 1969, based on 1906 and 1912 surveys, Institute of Geological Sciences (now British Geological Survey).

So, looming above my computer as I work at home is one that I have a particular attachment to: it’s the Geological Map of the British Islands [sic], produced some years ago as a jigsaw by the British Geological Survey. The artist-scientists who ever designed geological maps deserve a medal: the thing is a colour riot, it makes a wonderful map and an even better jigsaw puzzle.
Britain’s rocks lend themselves well to a vast array of colours: we have everything from un-killable Pre-Cambrian stuff up in the north of Scotland and quantities of greywackes and other sharp things in the hills, via some fairly modern sheets of black lava, and two bright red sandstones of wildly different dates, as well as spreads of scarcely consolidated gunk hardly warm from the last Ice Age. This huge variety of materials has arranged itself in familiar great curving swathes and parallel blocks, interrupted rudely by drastic faults and bright heavy blobs. It could all have been designed as an eye-catching abstract painting. Colouring these on the map must have been some task: in the end it isn’t just tough old rocks being hard, dark colours, though: the outstandingly durable and ancient Lewisian gneiss is a nice pink, and the vicious Moine schists are a pale yellow. So another theory bites the dust. Great domes of granite just have to be bright red, though, and the Coal Measures a dirty grey. And the light greens do tend to stay in the soft South-East.
For sheer colour ecstasy, the geological map has probably only found a rival in those multi-coloured wonders produced in more recent years by the people who finally found out about fractal maths - including the fabulous Mandelbrot set, that you can never get to the bottom of. It’s a bit the same with geological maps: as above, so below. The deeper you go (the larger the scale), the more stuff of the same nature comes up, so for instance the geological map of the gorgeous igneous ring complex on Ardnamurchan looks as spectacular as its national counterpart, and just as intricate, because all the boundaries are fractal.
My wife, Alice, and I both had this jigsaw when we met. So we gave the one that had no pieces missing to a charity shop. The one with a gap got put up in a clip-frame, with its ‘beauty spot’ or blemish that emphasises the completeness of the rest and makes the visitor realise the thing is a jigsaw puzzle, that you don’t normally expect to see on a wall. Having the original map on display wouldn’t be the same.
The geological map is the cartographer’s colour indulgence at its pinnacle. You could say that it has triumphantly converted science into art, and it does work excellently in conveying knowledge. But it also happens to be a visual treat. And a great piece of entertainment as part of the bargain.
By Roger Pountain, Senior Information Analyst, Collins Geo

24 Sep 2008

I Want Your Job: Cartographer

Our very own Iain MacDonald was included in the Independent Newspaper ‘I Want your Job’ series.

"It's great when the atlases come out – seeing your revisions is very satisfying."

See his answers to questions such as:
What do you actually do?
What's the best thing about it?
What skills do you need to do the job well?

Independent 18 Sep 08 article

23 Sep 2008

Collins GEO at the Scottish Learning Festival

Collins GEO will be present at the Scottish Learning Festival this week. We will be exhibiting our full range of educational atlases and demonstrating our latest electronic flipcharts, developed with Promethean, a global leader and innovator of interactive learning solutions, for use on whiteboards. Visit us at stand J38.

Run by Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) 2008 takes place on 24 and 25 September at the SECC and Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. It is the largest annual conference and exhibition on the Scottish education calendar with 200 exhibitors, keynote addesses, seminars, Topic Surgeries, Learning in Practice area and the Scottish Education Village.

15 Sep 2008

Times Universal Atlas in the Sunday Mail

‘Dramatic transformation of our planet laid bare in Atlas’

The 14 September edition of the Sunday Mail, illustrates how our new Times Universal Atlas shows the world’s changing landscapes, and highlights the effects of climate change.

Online version of the article from the Sunday Mail

Times Universal details at timesatlases.com

11 Sep 2008

Geo Commendations at BCS Awards 2008

Collins Geo received two commendations at The British Cartographic Society Awards, at their Annual Symposium in Newport Pagnell. In the Stanfords Award for Printed Mapping category we were highly commended for the 2009 Collins Fold Out Atlas Britain and commended for the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World (12th edition).

12th Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World details

Collins 2009 Road Atlas of Britain Range website

Photos of Graham Gill receiving the award certificates

See BCS Press Release - Awards 2008 and more details about the winners, and photographs from the evening at the BCS Awards website.

10 Sep 2008

The Secret of Map Design …

A recent CARTO-SoC email details Nick Tasker’s light hearted definition of map design, as presented at the SoC summer school.

Map Design can be summed up in one word, "CARTOGRAPHY"

The capital "C" stands for compromise, for after all every map is a compromise.

That leaves 10 letters; each letter represents 10% of the total.

Next comes "ART", 30%.

Don't forget the "O" which stands for opportunity, a good 10% of every map is opportunity.

After that comes the science, "GRAPH", 50%.

And lastly never forget the "Y" (why?), 10% for the "why is it required/who you are doing it for/the user need etc".

Just a bit of fun, but hopefully some serious undercurrents that we should all bear in mind when designing maps!!

Nick Tasker, Commercial Communications Manager, UK Hydrographic Office

Distributed by CARTO-SoC, the Society of Cartographers Mailing List.
For more details about this List and the Society, visit their web site: http://www.soc.org.uk/

1 Sep 2008

Doors Open Day at HarperCollins Publishers

‘Doors Open Days’ is an annual event that takes place all over Scotland allowing people entry without charge to buildings and attractions not normally open to the public.

This year, the 500th Anniversary of Printing in Scotland is being celebrated, with a special focus on the Bishopbriggs/Cadder area. Our HarperCollins complex at Westerhill in Bishopbriggs will be one of the featured buildings. The long history of Collins began in 1819 in Glasgow, when the first William Collins went into business with Charles Chalmers to establish a printing and publishing business. Now, for the first time we are opening our doors to the public.

There will be an exhibition from the archive, including fascinating letters from Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Patrick O’Brian and others, giving a real insight into the minds of these authors. You can see how the popular Collins dictionaries are created and find out how books make it onto the shelves in your local bookshop, from the author submitting the manuscript right through to distribution of the finished book.

You can also discover how Collins Geo (the Cartographic department) evolved from the world famous map making firm of Bartholomew, and how we have created a range of award winning maps and atlases, including the world renowned Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. Limited tours of the map making department will be available to demonstrate the production process.

Open Saturday, 13th September 2008, 10.30am - 4pm.

See area brochure for details.

Area brochure for East Dunbartonshire (download 2MB PDF file).

Doors Open Days website

500 Years of Printing in Scotland website

Cartographic Conferences 2008

Last week saw Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference. This week we have the Society of Cartographers and British Cartographic Society annual meetings.

Society of Cartographers
44th Annual Summer School, Aberdeen, 1-4 September 2008
The programme has interests for every delegate with its well-established mix of lectures, workshops, visits and social gatherings.

The British Cartographic Society
Annual Symposium, Newport Pagnell, 3-6 September 2008
Under the banner of Mapping 2008: Making the Most of Maps, the event will combine world class presentations from leading experts with short, interactive workshops giving an introduction to a range of current issues and led by leading cartographic practitioners.

Online maps ‘wiping out history’

BBC News online (29 Aug 08) had a piece on how internet mapping didn’t include many landmarks and features that help users understand the landscape. Mary Spence, the president of the British Cartographic Society (BCS) spoke at the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) Annual Conference on how online mapping lacks the detail of traditional paper products saying "We're in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique, giving us a feel for a place even if we've never been there". BBC News: Online maps 'wiping out history'

Much comment and debate followed in the media:

Independent online: Internet maps 'demolish British history'

Times online: Heritage wiped off the map as sat-nav ...