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"Mapping Hacks": Zooming in on Digital Cartography

June 24, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--Humans have been creating maps for centuries to identify spaces, detail new places, and provide direction. Over time, mapmakers have become increasingly precise and more sophisticated. Cartography has evolved from wall paintings on caves and imprints on clay, to online interactive maps and global positioning systems (GPS.) Today, any PC user with Internet access and the right tips and tools can find resources online and create their own customized maps.

In Mapping Hacks, (Erle, Gibson, and Walsh, O'Reilly, US $29.95)--a richly detailed book with full color maps, charts, and graphics-the authors provide a comprehensive guide with a collection of 100 tips, tools and valuable resources for producing customized digital maps. Digital mapping is illuminating geographic data like never before, and the appearance of Open Source mapping projects has spurred growth for the development of interactive mapping-generating new resources and more ways to use geospatial data.

At O'Reilly Media's Where 2.0 Conference, June 29-30, in San Francisco, CA, Michael Frumin will present "Visualizing Democracy," a talk on "Fundrace," an online mapping service that details political affiliations and support in any given geographical area. Frumin also contributed hacks from this presentation to Mapping Hacks.

"Historically, the enormous complexities of cartography and geospatial analysis have been kept as the preserve of a talented and select few," comments coauthor Schuyler Erle. "Today, by contrast, thanks to recent advances in personal computing technology, geospatial analysis has escaped from the ivory tower, and, slowly but surely, cartography is shifting from being a traditionally read-only medium to most people, and into becoming a read/write medium. Our hope is that Mapping Hacks will introduce people to the wonderful possibilities for exploration and storytelling inherent in digital cartography and geospatial analysis, and inspire them to seek new and compelling ways to tell their own stories through their very own maps."

Mapping Hacks provides the best sources for geographic information, and guides the reader to integrate data and create their own maps-including adding personal data like weblogs and photo galleries. More than a tutorial, Mapping Hacks is also a must have resource guide.

Among the tips and tools included are:

  • Compare and Consider Alternate Driving Routes: Access and review different routes from online mapping sources and choose the fastest or the most scenic
  • Zoom in on Your Neighborhood: Zoom in on any location and find out exactly where it lies on the map and learn how to create your own animated zooming application
  • Retrace Your Journey With a Tracklog: Learn how to download a tracklog from your GPS receiver, create a visual log, and use tracklogs for future travel
  • Establish an OpenGuide to Your Home Town: Setup a collaborative web site with details on directions, personal annotations on favorite places and eateries
  • "It's a combination of tips and tricks that allows users to better use mapping tools that are already out there, to tweak existing offerings to do more than might be expected, and perhaps most importantly for the arm chair reader and 'how does it work fan,' to understand how all this stuff works," states Adena Shutzberg, Executive Editor of "Direction Magazine." "The book is as much about sharing what others have learned as it is about enabling new hacks. Just reading the 'how tos' will get the creative juices flowing."

    Additional Resources:

    Mapping Hacks
    Schuyler Erle, Rich Gibson, and Jo Walsh
    ISBN: 0-596-007035, 568 pages, $29.95 US, $41.95 CAN
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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