A brief geography of time


Sometimes referred to as the fourth dimension, time has a highly geographical relevance. For human geography, population sizes can have as much impact on the ‘tempo of places’ as culture or even climate. In physical geography, the concept of time is indispensable for an understanding of how the natural environment has changed and keeps changing.
In the 21st century, time has been described as being a commodity itself, affecting everything from manufacturing and trade, to financial flows and global transport links.
The general geographic distribution of time zones is based on the general concept of dividing the world into zones of equal time following a 24-hour day around the world. In theory, this means that there are 12 time zones of 15° width in which each differs by one hour’s time difference.
The necessity of time zones was closely linked to growing needs of transport and communication links during industrialisation. British railway companies began adopting Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which helped to coordinate timetables. In 1880, GMT became standard across Britain and time differences of tens of minutes between cities in the country started vanishing. At a global level, time zones became established in the first decades of the 20th century.

Population Cartogram of Time Zones
(click for larger version)

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Mapping the global village

Changing times was the title of a session at this year’s Annual Symposium of the British Cartographic Society (not to be confused with the Society of Cartographers which will have its annual conference in September).
My contribution as a speaker in this session was titled Changing views of a changing planet. In the presentation I took a look at how changes in data and technology can provide alternative ways of mapping a globalised world, and mapping cities as the hotspots of globalisation. Continue reading

Geovisualisierung im Zeitalter der Globalisierung

Unlike the post-apocalyptic scenario in infamous Waterworld, what would a world without oceans look like? An oceanless world, so to say, but not like one of the supercontinents that we already had. Instead, more like our today’s continents in the shape of the living space of humankind. In the digital era of cartography, this kind of map is just a few clicks (and much processing time) away, and results in this map curiosity: The image of the world as an oceanless population planet:

gridded population cartogram of an oceanless world
(click for larger version)

The map has been presented first at my talk for the DGfK‘s (German Cartographic Society) colloquium at the University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe (a German summary can be found here). In 2013 it has been published as a E&P A feature (see here).
As it was all about visualisation (and maps, of course), I used the Prezi presentation tool to visualise this talk. Here it is:

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