A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to a Calendar

The call for maps for the 2017 GeoHipster calendar has closed and review is underway. I haven’t begun collating the responses yet, so I have no idea how it will turn out, but I can say that, for me, the process so far has been personally rewarding.


I was not involved in the making of the 2015 calendar. When it came time to considering doing one for 2016, I volunteered to coordinate¬†the process; with no idea what to expect. We had quite a response and I was impressed with the quality of the work received. Because it was my first time through, I was pretty consumed by the process and probably didn’t get to give as much consideration to the art that was before me.

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GeoHipster Call for Maps

Earlier this year, I joined the newly-formed advisory board for the web site GeoHipster. The site, and specifically the Q&A interview format with people working throughout the geospatial industry, had rapidly developed an audience and the logistics had outpaced the ability of the site’s founder, Atanas Entchev, to keep up. So a group of us signed on to help out. As a result, many of us have contributed interviews and helped Atanas manage the direction of the site.

One thing that became clear to me even before joining the advisory board was that Atanas was taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to the “hipster” label. He was simply having fun with a prevailing cultural meme. The content of the site, however, belied a desire to celebrate the work being done throughout the industry. I admired that interviewees often had clearly strong opinions on issues and that Atanas, while staking no specific positions for the site itself, did not attempt to buff away the hard edges of these opinions. I have found the site’s content refreshingly honest and often fun, which is why I wanted to get involved.

Last year, GeoHipster introduced a number of mechanisms to help defray the costs of running the site. These included sponsorship (Thanks, Mapbox!), patronage, and the sale of merchandise such as calendars and t-shirts. The calendar was a particularly fun showcase of the artistry of the geospatial industry and GeoHipster is reprising it for 2016.

Last week, the site published a call for maps for the 2016 GeoHipster calendar. We’ve already seen a great response and are looking forward to more. There is a lot of imagination in our industry and the maps we’ve seen so far reflect that. The calendar is a great way to showcase your art so I encourage anyone to send a submission. The advisory board would like nothing more than for the job of selecting 13 maps to be as difficult as possible.

The sales of the calendars help keep the site running. GeoHipster is not a nonprofit but it is certainly not profitable. The costs of operating the site include obvious things such as hosting and design work but also include the costs of sending a free t-shirt to each interviewee and the distribution of the stickers that have become a fixture on geospatial laptops across the world. So your maps will help keep a good thing going. If you’ve enjoyed reading GeoHipster this year, and you feel you have strong cartographic skills, I encourage you to submit a map.

A GIS Day Map for World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day. It also happens to be GIS Day so I thought a map (not mine) of new diagnoses would be in order:

Source: International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, Fifth Edition (Click image to visit)

To learn more about Type 1 Diabetes, please visit the JDRF.

How long until the ads stop?

In celebration of this day when the non-stop political ads, robo-calls, junk mail, and social media posts *should* finally come to an end. I threw together a little map to show the latest time at which polls close in each state. This should represent, state-by-state, the time (EST) at which you can safely go back to answering your phones. Click the image below to go there (the data takes a couple of seconds to load).

Democracy is a wonderful thing, but it will be nice to have this campaign season behind us.

Mowers and Maps

I was mowing the lawn today and trimming with the push mower pictured below. If it looks old, that’s because it is. I first acquired it in 1978 when it was given to me by neighbors that were moving to an apartment near the city, meaning they no longer needed it. It still starts on the third pull and I’ve used it every summer since it was given to me.

As I was mowing, I thought about how old the mower is and how it came to be in my possession. This led me to think about the origin of my fascination with maps. What does one have to do with the other? Allow me to explain.

As you can imagine, I was fairly young when the lawn mower was given to me. I had gotten to know the neighbors up the street by playing with their son. One day, I noticed a large shelf of identical, leather-bound books taking up the entire back wall of a room. I asked what they were and they invited me to browse them. It turned out that my neighbor was the son of a long-time chair of the National Geographic Society. These books were actually bound collections, by year, of every issue of National Geographic from the first issue on.

Over time, I would spend hours poring through these volumes, fascinated by the world as it was documented by National Geographic from 1888 forward. I did not get to read every issue but I was especially drawn to the maps when they were present. I realize now that my identity as a “map nerd” took root there.

Coincidentally, 1978 was the year I first started programming. Those two experiences turned out to be major influences on who I became.

Quilted Map of Monongahela National Forest

I found this map on display at the Cranberry Glades visitor center in West Virginia (click any of the pictures to enlarge them):

One of the rangers working there told me it is to scale (although the quilt itself lacks any indication of scale).

The next two pictures are close-ups showing the north arrow and the use of buttons as place markers. The kids we are traveling with were fascinated by this map. You will notice a red box over a portion of the forest. That was the area covered by a relief map on a table elsewhere in the visitor center.