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Archive for the ‘Cartography’ topic

The Breakup of Belgium

Or: Fifteen Ways to Crack an Egg

Every few months, the media feels inclined to warn us of the impending break up of Belgium. And these news reports have been steadily feeding us for what? The past hundred years?

It is said that Belgium is, not only the only failed nation state in the world that actually works, but that it is also an accident of history. It’s not hard to imagine why. Consider this: In the summer of 1830, after a night of heavy drinking at the opera, some blokes woke up the next morning, not only discovering that they had acquired a set of cool new tattoos, but that they had also in-avertedly created a new country.

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A Travel Map based on Time

A time travel map with cities relative to Brussels

I’ve always had this nagging feeling that certain places, even though they are physically quite close, always seemed to be so far away. Further even than distant places, simply because they are more time consuming to reach thanks to a lack of direct highways or too many traffic lights along the way.

So while the shortest route between two points may be a straight line, the quickest route on the other hand is determined by the fastest mode of transportation at your disposal. To illustrate this, I created a time travel map that positions cities relative to Brussels based on how long it takes to reach them using only public transportation.

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Mapping Belgium’s Absurd Borders

baarle_closeup

It’s finally out: The Strange Maps book by Frank Jacobs, the man behind the wonderful Strange Maps blog. The book itself has become a hefty anti-atlas bringing together some of the strangest, weirdest and interesting maps ever created or found.

I’m also glad to say that it contains two maps of my own.

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The Nchiwe Map

nchiwe_map

There are still some finishing touches to be done on the Pangaea Expedition site before it is ready for prime time. But in the mean time, I’ve finally completed the Nchiwe Map. It depicts the settlements of the Nchiwe civilization some 75 thousand years ago. Creating it was one thing. Exporting it to a 90×60 cm image was another matter. It was a real test in patience. Now I’m investigating which services are best suited to sell it as a poster. Lulu seems to offer the best quality prints at 300 dpi. That’s a 10800×7200 pixel image (77 mega-pixels). I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about the site. But while they may be great for books, the whole process of purchasing posters seems rather complex and not always very clear. Another problem is the fact that they offer the posters in three different formats. But for some reason, they don’t share the same aspect ratio. So if the buyer doesn’t choose the intended format, he’ll get a trimmed version instead. In the case of the Nchiwe map, choosing a smaller format means bye bye New Zealand (Aotearoa on the map). And Lulu doesn’t offer the publisher the option of only selling one particular format instead of all three.

The other alternative is Cafe Press. Their shop is more polished and clearer to use. At least you know exactly what you’re purchasing. My only doubt is the quality. While they do except 300 dpi images, they seem to prefer 200 dpi ones. Does this mean that they are printing it at max 200dpi or are they rightly assuming that for photo enlargements, up-scaling it beyond 200 is useless? I guess I’ll just have to purchase my poster and do a quality check before I actually start selling them.

Update: Looks like my choice has been made for me. I just got a mail from Lulu. They will soon no longer be offering posters for sale.

T-shirts with the god Shiva print