Off the Map

Gel Conference Map Workshop

May 23rd 2011

At the end of last month, I teamed up with Wendy Brawer, founder and director of Green Map System, to give a map-making workshop at her studio in the East Village as part of the annual Gel (Good Experience Live) Conference. Gel is a great event; as a featured speaker in 2010, I attended the whole conference and came away inspired. Like last year, Gel 2011 inspired me–not just the speakers and activities, but the interactions and energy among attendees.  The workshop Wendy and I gave this year was a city mouse/country mouse, tech mapping/manuscript mapping kind of thing: let’s just say I was the homemade map country mouse, as opposed to downtown Wendy, who infuses technological mapping with local and very human sustainability patterns. However different we are in approach, our aims–to deliver meaningful maps–are identical, and we loved the idea of giving a workshop together. Here was the challenge: we had 2 hours to provide a tasting menu of our respective map-making practices, and to demonstrate how we dovetail. Luckily, our attendees–young, creative, savvy, curious (typical Gel conference profile)–were quick studies, and moved back and forth between Wendy’s activities and mine. Despite the time constraints, many of our guests managed to create clever hand-drawn maps. For more details and photos, see Wendy’s blog entry on the workshop.


A Cloud in the Firmament

May 12th 2011

No, this is not a bad weather report. Cartographic historian John Cloud is traveling north from DC to give a free talk at the New York Public Library at 2:30 this Saturday (April 14th 2011) sponsored by the New York Map Society, on whose board I sit (have I said that I’m in charge of programming? Recommend a speaker if you know a good one; I aim to please).  John’s one of the best map speakers I’ve ever heard; furthermore, HE’S A ROPER, a little something he learned growing up in West Texas, which makes him–aside from his great oratorical skills–the coolest cartographic historian ever.  Below are particulars:

John Cloud holds a PhD. in geography from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he wrote a dissertation on the geographic applications of the declassified CORONA reconnaissance satellite system. He is now the NOAA historian of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, the oldest element of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) which makes NOAA the oldest scientific agency in the US government.  The agency began in 1807 as the Survey of the Coast, under a plan devised by the Swiss emigrant Ferdinand Hassler and accepted by President Thomas Jefferson. From the beginning, Hassler’s Survey was centered in, on, and around “New York Bay and Harbor and the Environs.” as Hassler termed it. Therefore, it is appropriate for NOAA people to return now and again to the ancestral homeland of the agency, here in “the Environs” of New York Bay and Harbor.