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Book Review – Atlas of Design

Atlas of Design swirling seas

Why read Atlas of Design?

I’m not sure you would ‘read’ it. I rather think you would use it as a reference and/or have it grace a coffee table for the pleasure of returning to it from time to time. Certainly the cover, stark slate grey with a gunmetal number 1 (or perhaps more appropriately, the international symbol for turn on?) is very smart. Unfortunately fingerprints tend to show up for a while.

What might be in it for you?

Atlas ofDesign contents
Numbers relate to page numbers in text

New takes on classics

Such as p10, US highways. At first glance it is an extended London Tube map (1931, Harry Beck). And p36, Marlborough Sounds, must surely be a NZ government topo map? Subtly but definitely, no.

The new wave of popular prints?

Move over Monet, Manet, and Buffet. Surely these city maps composed of names will soon be adorning apartment walls. Modernity for the streets, rivers and parks of Washington D.C. on p4. Tradition through the first streets of Madison Wisconsin on p58 via signatures of the signers of the US constitution.

From form to function

Designed for a Brazilian annual report, the Hora Mundial (world time) map on p8 places Brazil at the centre of its world. It assailed me at first glance and I didn’t spend much time on it. But each time I look at it I discover more good design for its anticipated users.


There is imagination in every map in this book. If you can’t see it, just read the accompanying story of the map. But a few maps exemplify an imagineering approach. p28, eCartacoethes, is a series of this ilk. Melding the visual languages of electronic design and maps, the series is smart, amusing, and a few of the maps are initially realistic.

Williamette R

Art forms

◊ Extrapolated defines p20 (took me a few goes to divine this clever history)
Purposed p28
Re-purposed p31
Captured p70 — absolutely gorgeous, see portion at left.


The cold hand of death on p34 contrasts with the warm climes of p36 and gorgeous colour laid down on p68 — my 2nd favourite visually.


À la London Tube in curvaceous tendrils on p14. Graphic design melds with GIS on p50.


You won’t see this book the way I did. That scope for interpretation is what makes it so interesting. Don’t be misled by my selection above. There is no uninteresting map in this atlas.

Still, don’t rely solely on my opinion — that this atlas is in its 2nd printing, within a year of release, speaks well of its acceptance. It seems these maps indeed represent the editors’ opinion that —

[quote]To truly engage map users requires that we present them with something worth looking at.[/quote]

Atlas of Design, Volume One. Editors: Timothy R Wallace & Daniel P Huffman. Published by North American Cartographic Society (NACIS). 2012. US$35 +shipping.


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Australia’s first topographic map

Newcastle 1913 topo

Newcastle 1913

The National Library of Australia has just released online Australia’s first topographic map. Newcastle 1913 was also the first inch to the mile (1:63,360) in Australia. It is termed a sketch map as triangulation had not been introduced at that stage.

You can also order a printed copy or even print a small copy on your home printer .

For more detail on the production of early topo maps in Australia Papua New Guinea and some islands, you might like to read

Australia's Military Map Makers book

Australia’s military map-makers : the Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915-96 by Coulthard-Clark, C. D. (Christopher David).

While it might seem a dry topic, if you are interested in maps generally, and especially if you have a military background, you could find this a good read as I did.

Map librarians

Wondering if there are better ways to preserve your personal, club’s, state’s, nation’s collection of orienteering or rogaining  maps?  Then tune in to the free webinar  Care and Feeding of Maps: Tips for Managing Your Map Collection

The presenter is Hallie Pritchett, Head, Map and Government Information, Library, University of Georgia

On Monday, March 18th, 2013, 1500-1600 EST, head to  No registration required.

Maps are an integral part of many library’s collections, but due to their unique needs and issues librarians and library staff members often fear them. This session will address and alleviate the concerns often associated with collecting and working with these valuable resources, offering advice on how to arrange, house, and maintain paper maps and providing an overview of resources for managing map collections of all shapes and sizes. Sponsored by ALA MAGIRT – the Map and Geospatial Information Round Table.

 Thanks to Brendan Whyte via ANZMapS for this info.


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DIY NearMap

NearMap logo

Vale NearMap

More than a few orienteer mappers are missing NearMap and its useful Hypertiles app. While we still have access to images that we downloaded, it can be difficult to find the image we want, there is no seamless transition from image to image and we lose zooming.

Hail eBee

eBee aerial photographer
eBee aerial photographer

But there is a solution. The Sensefly eBee is now available in Australia and offers these functions;

  • fly your specific requirements when you want
  • up to 10 coverage per flight
  • packs into a trunk that fits in your car
  • accompanying software produces georeferenced mosaics
  • and DEM files for contours.

Orienteering Australia’s next grant submission?

I don’t know the price but I am guessing we might need to come up with additional uses to justify 😉

  • aid to coaching – eBee could be the eye in the sky tracking an orienteer in action for the coach to critique
  • event coverage – instant aerial shots of major events for the media
  • controlling – send eBee out to validate the positioning of controls (a great help to our ageing controller cohort)

Read all about it …

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Custom Map Maker, Connie Brown

If you enjoyed any of the books I referred to in recent post Mapping Books that are Not Atlases, then you may be interested in this Wall Street Journal article A Mapmaker Takes on the World. Custom map maker Connie Brown creates maps that reflect the travel, history, even eating preferences of clients (the latter related to her son).

The featured image is by Brad Trent for Wall Street Journal.