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NACIS 2006 review


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#31
benbakelaar

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Cheese ass?


Aw man I was all over that one, but I refrained :) There has to be a Cartography Ass. out there right? :D

#32
Nick Springer

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NACIS is the cartography ass.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#33
Matthew Hampton

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I felt that your map was the one that the "client" (lady from the wi cheese ass.) liked the best.



Thanx Frax,

Given another hour, the backgound would have been polished up a bit - but it was a quickly created map. The "wine-county-tour" feel was the objective - and I think that came across.

If NACIS is the cartography Ass. what is Carto-talk?

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#34
benbakelaar

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If NACIS is the cartography Ass. what is Carto-talk?


Well, following that analogy, I think Cartotalk must be the liver!

From Wikipedia: The liver plays a major role in metabolism and has a number of functions in the body including glycogen storage, plasma protein synthesis, and drug detoxification. It also produces bile, which is important in digestion. It performs and regulates a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions requiring specialized tissues.

#35
MapMedia

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So if we're not producing bile, NACIS gets constipated. It all makes perfect sense now!

#36
JB Krygier

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Some photos from NACIS 06 ...

http://ubikcan.blogspot.com/

A click on Lou takes you to a few dozen photos on flickr.


jk

#37
Derek Tonn

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I believe what I said was "Hmmm....elegant? Well, this one is all in Arial, which I don't usually use in the same sentence with 'elegant'."


That was YOU, Dennis? Oops! Didn't mean to get under your skin in here. Sorry about that. I purposefully didn't watch any of the people making comments during that entire feedback session, as I didn't want to put names and faces to a few of the people's negative comments towards the four entries. ;)

Here's the thing related to my choice of typeface on that piece: The reason Arial was chosen as a dominant font within that Map-Off piece was:

1. That particular entry had so much else going on related to iconography, the "Alien Cow", etc. that I felt that the map needed a strong, "familiar" san serif font to stabilize the design.
2. It was a "yin" and "yang" type of balance between the very busy/fussy font of the producer locations, north designation, and all the graphics on the right side of the piece. Busy/fussy, clean/simple legend, busy/fussy. If that makes any sense.
3. A strong, bold, sans serif font helped to reinforce the B&W "Holstein" theme I was going for.
4. <A BIG one> Many/most people have that font on their PCs (Helvetica on their Macs), and it is one less thing for a "client" to do if they end up trying to tweak or maintain a graphic themselves post-design. Either that, or buying a copy of all the special/unusual fonts used in a job will typically add to our or a client's bottom-line. I thought the "busy" font could be converted to curves upon export, but the main block of text (and text labels on parts of the map) needed to be exported as text, not curves.
5. Arial is a good font to use when developing lots of custom leading/kerning between characters. Much of the text in the "legend" of the piece (and on the map design itself) had manually altered spacing between many characters.

To me, typeface is an artistic decision....just like one's choice of color, the balance between negative and positive space in an image, etc. HOWEVER, sometimes "art" has to take a back-seat to functionality/usability (ESPECIALLY related to wayfinding tasks such as map design, as well as issues of accessibility)...and I think that a big reason why many tables in the room said that Map #2 was the most legible/usable was font and #1 on my list above. #4 is a big issue for many of our firm's clients too, as the lion's share of our projects/clients tend to be price-sensitive. Even $25-$35 for a single typeface can sometimes makes our clients grumble, believe it or not. If this was around a $700 project, every font purchase required can add 4-5% more to a client's bottom-line.

Honestly though, it's all just opinion and personal preference, which is what makes something like a Map-Off so interesting and fun. If you have 150 people in the room, you probably have 150 different preferences related to most of the judging categories. As long as people realize that their opinions are no more "right" than any of the other opinions in the room, it's all good. Mapping theory and philosophy is wonderful, but I guess what I enjoy more than anything is "mapping for the masses"........getting maps into people's hands who aren't well-read and/or haven't had master's/doctoral work in cartography, but simply need a graphic that can get them from where they are to where they are going as effectively as possible.
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#38
Derek Tonn

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I think it would be fun with a more challenging task though, that would challenge the participants to use some more innovative solutions - that would make them differ more (now they were, in a way, quite similar). Maybe some tri-variate thematic maps with a time series... ? :)


Hugo,

Yes, I agree. However, one thing that was tough related to the Map-Off project, in that respect, is that we were instructed to not spend more than a total of 15-20 hours on the project. That's not a lot of time....especially when you are "starting from scratch" in creating all of your base map imagery (not using the Tiger file). The other type of project I would really, REALLY like to see in a future Map-Off is a theme of accessible mapping. New/innovative maps for the visually impaired, mapping which illustrates subject matter depicting OTHER senses besides sight (sound, smell, touch, taste), etc. That would be an incredibly interesting, different type of project.

I think the Map-Off and PCD was definitely the highlight of the conference for me! That, and getting to spend some time with folks like Hans, Nat, Dennis and many others over 3+ days. It was SO nice to be able to talk with other people who make maps for a living. I work out of a home office, and in the winter I can literally go DAYS without seeing other people (apart from my wife and two daughters). That time together in-person was well-worth the price of admission, in my opinion.

One other Map-Off thought that I was surprised didn't really get discussed at NACIS: choice of color. Many studies have shown that the color orange tends to make people think about food/eating more than others. Hence, the color schemes used at restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Hardees, et al. On a cheese producers tour, I would think that the idea of "food" or being hungry (use of the color orange) would be very important to the client. However, that never really came up in the overall discussion.
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#39
Hans van der Maarel

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Jim Woods ("Woody") has more photos up:
http://www.csulb.edu...acis/nacis.html
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#40
Dennis McClendon

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A little background on the Map-Off. This was an idea that some of us hatched a few years back as a way to get map design the center of conversation at NACIS. The first year was a street/tourist map of Alturas, Calif. (I was one of the entrants). The second year I organized it. Since I am so much associated with large-scale street maps, I wanted to do something thematic, so I assigned a map "for a national newsmagazine" showing migration from various Mexican states. Last year the assignment was something like a newspaper might publish showing some aspect (I can't remember precisely what) about Hurricane Katrina damage, and we moved it to be the opening night event in place of the opening local speaker we'd previously had.

As for Arial, Derek raises some good points, particularly about easy availability. As a Mac guy, I have very little experience with Arial, but my initial impression was that the sidebearings/kerning pairs didn't seem particularly well executed, or were compromised for on-screen display. Thus I'm surprised to read Derek's point #5, unless he means that it requires custom kerning pairs. When using a plain vanilla (and overexposed) typeface like Arial, I think you have to work harder to develop elegance, using techniques such as weight variation and well-thought-out paragraph leading/spacing. Arial (like Helvetica Medium) also seems trapped in that deadly no-mans-land, not light enough to be a text face and not heavy enough to be a headline face.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#41
Derek Tonn

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Dennis,

I've got over 1,300 typefaces on my computer to choose from. However, I frequently find myself going back to "the basics" when it comes to map design......Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Cronos, etc. They aren't as "clever", "sexy" or unique as thousands of other serif or sans serif typefaces that are out there to choose from. However, they work, are very legible, and are readily available on a great-many people's computers.

I came out of a studio arts and business educational background. My "arts" training directly/indirectly taught me that to "conform" or choose the non-clever, "mainstream" approach is to be shunned and/or ridiculed by your peers. My business background taught me that, while being unique/clever can be very self-gratifying, it often does not do the job as effectively OR pay the bills. ;) It's an interesting dichotomy....but one in which I've always believed that the "tie" between function and fashion has to be given to function. Function AND fashion is always the goal, of course! However, function wins....ten times out of ten, especially when wayfinding/navigation is involved.

Maybe part of it for me is the fact that much of the work I do is being created for online display? Non-standard sans serif or ESPECIALLY serif fonts do not always render well on a computer monitor and can add to one's eye fatigue/strain in viewing and interpreting an image. A bit off the beaten path of the NACIS 2006 discussion, I know. However, an interesting topic of discussion.

Has NACIS ever had any articles published regarding the use of type in mapping projects? I've seen dozens of articles on typography through my graphic design coursework, but the use of type within map-specific designs would be a very interesting topic....at least to me. Thanks!
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
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#42
MapMedia

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Thanks Hans for the photo link.

Some of the posters elicit drool factor for sure. The 'CONUS poster map' is bee-otchin, yet the treatment of the oceans kind of makes me think one could go snorkeling off the coast for hundreds of miles. :P

#43
Rick Dey

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I've been meaning to weigh in here with my impressions as a first timer at NACIS.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time in Madison. The blend of individuals from both the academic and commercial sides all with an unabated love of quality maps was wonderful. Being able to talk to other individuals with such varied backgrounds that were all interested in maps was refreshing. Although I work in an office with 11 other individuals involved in map production, having the chance to get fresh perspectives on design ideas and production techniques is a welcome change.

Connecting faces and sharing with many of you here from CartoTalk helps to enhance this forum, next year though we need to add an extra tag to our name badges noting our online names. Although we had the opportunity to get together at Night Out I'd like to see us try to organize a CartoTalk gathering if possible. I know it was planned this time but in combination with Night Out and so many other people there it didn't quite come together.

The overall hospitality of all the attendees I met was way beyond anything I've experienced at similar conferences/meetings especially of the size of this group. I didn't experience the egos that some of you have mentioned, but then maybe I was just ignoring them.

PCD was excellent, i would have liked to have seen it go on an extra half day. Although I tended to shy away from the more academic presentations (you can only listen to so many papers on perception of dot density on one and multi-colored maps) I found most of the presentations to be interesting and came away with a number of ideas and inspirations. Some excellent work in the poster session did inspire a drool factor.

For just plain fun GeoDweeb Geopardy was great. A wonderful job with that Dennis, but those people are in a class I'm not going near!

The MapOff and peer review were excellent opportunities to share ideas, meet others, and have a good time. There is no doubt that to put your work out there to a group like that is a phenomenally intimidating thing to do and my hat is off to those who placed themselves in harms way.

I'm looking forward to St. Loius.
Rick Dey

#44
DaveB

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Maybe easy for me to say, not having been a participant, but I wouldn't take the map-off critiques too seriously. 1) given the limited amount of time most of us realize any maps produced would likely have room for improvement; as someone said, these are really just first drafts. 2) given a room full of map-lovers it's likely there would be a large range of opinions and no single "correct" map solution. 3) given the criteria (adjectives, open to individual interpretation) the critiques were focused on that and not necessarily on overall design. 4) I think most of us look at the map-off as a fun way to get into discussions about maps and map design and kick off the meeting.

Any of the maps, including the original cheese association map, were worthy and useful/usable. My hat's off to all participants.

As far as egos go I think any group has them and NACIS is no exception, but overall the vast majority of nacites are fun, friendly, open, fellow map-geeks.

By the way, did anyone end up going to Devil's Lake? We drove to it, but didn't hike there (a bit cold and rainy by the time we got there). We did hike at Parfrey's Glen nearby before it got too rainy, very cool hike up through a ravine in the woods.
Dave Barnes
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#45
natcase

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You know, one of the perennial problems with the map-off is the maps are often still in their "underwear" -- there is only so much time a guinea pig volunteer can be expected to donate.

It would be intersting to do a Map-Off with a set of established similar examples: like the primary "Africa" spread from a variety of world atlases, or tourist maps of San Francisco, or... I'm sure there are an almost inexhaustible supply.

Besides, we can save any potential bruising of egos because we can pick examples from large publishers who never send folksto NACIS :)

Nat Case
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maphead.blogspot.com






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