Into the big wide open: Think (twice) before you map!

A little bit from my archives which I never got around putting online before…here it comes: Last September I was invited to do a keynote at FOSS4G, OSGeo’s Global Conference for Open Source Geospatial Software. The event is the annual gathering of Open Source Geospatial Developers, Users and Leaders and was held at Nottingham’s new East Midlands Conference Centre, 17th to 21st September. The conference motto was ‘Geo for all’ because, as the organisers explain, “many people who work with geo software and maps find themselves becoming passionate advocates for the power of geography to make a difference: in government, business, travel, environment, crime reduction, social justice and communications to name just a few domains. Open Source Geo software makes this possible.
So how does a geographer, working with geospatial software but being less so a developer, address a huge crowd of people who are little reluctant to see themselves as geeks and nerds? Instead of pretending to be as clever as most of the audience I took a slightly different stance, trying to bridge the gap between those on the programming side and those on the applied side – two groups which sadly rarely speak to each other. Traditional cartographers often see their field of work undermined (and threatened) by computerised methods to generate mapping products, while coders very often find the obsession with minute detail and ‘artisan’ cartography annoying. If the two worlds would come a bit closer together, and both sides speak a bit more with each other, the world of cartography and geospatial visualisations could benefit so much more. Addressing a more technical audience, I concluded that we should all think a little bit more before we start mapping, and that we should give a good mapping project a little bit more time than we often do these days – but more importantly of course: We should never stop mapping. These are the slides of my talk, of course including many maps:

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The Visualisation of Spatial Social Structure: Reflections on Critical Methods

‘(How) do we understand Capitalism? Reflections on critical methods’ was the title of a workshop on critical methods at the University of Manchester (September 13-14th). As the announcement of the workshop states, ‘there is no consensus on what critical social science is, exactly. Largely it is defined as not orthodox economics or positivist social science‘. Continue reading

From geovisualisation to neocartography: Maps in a digital world

The ICA Commission on Neocartography
Changing technologies have always had a considerable impact on cartography and continue to do so. Several technological revolutions marked important steps in the practice and process of creating maps. Mechanical, optical and photo-chemical technologies changed the way maps were produced. Then, the discovery of electronic capabilities made a new dimension in map production accessible: Not only most of the design techniques were transferred to digital platforms, used at some step in the production of almost all maps created today, but also the possibility to deal with huge amounts of data that can hardly be analysed by a single person enables cartographers to find ways to automate data processing for cartographic visualisation. This is where the term neocartography comes into play, which gives credit to the most recent trends in the field of map-making. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Cities: London’s Health Inequalities

London is a special city, London is incredibly diverse and London has its own unique health problems. In 2012 the London Deanery, in partnership with the British Medical Association, is hosting a series of seminars that look to provide [...] an opportunity to debate some of the key healthcare issues that face the capital in 2012.” This extract from the announcement of the Metropolitan Medicine 2012 seminar series highlights the need to take a closer look at London’s position within the United Kingdom, as the challenges that the city faces are probably not different, but certainly unique to the problems that currently exist in the health sector of the country.
A tale of two cities: London’s health inequalities was the title of my contribution to the seminar series. In my presentation I highlighted some of the problems that are part of that issue, explaining how social and health inequalities are inevitably intertwined. London is unique in the social landscape, but also part of the processes that shape the UK, which I demonstrated in a series of maps in my slides that accompanied my talk: Continue reading

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