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#1
frax

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I am quite excited - I have been contracted by a municipality (city administration) in Sweden to hold a one-day seminar in cartography. It will be for technical staff in making better maps. Originally it was supposed to be a half-day seminar, which would have been easier. I haven't gotten to nailing the agenda yet (I need to talk more to the client etc) but I have started to think.

My idea is that it will be a little too much for me to do all the talking, not that I am a bad speaker, but there is some variation needed. I would like so tips on a more interactive session.

My thoughts are to divide the day into 5 sessions:

  • Background/introduction - introducing myself, and the participants introduce themselves and what they work with. Talking about maps as communication means, and target audience.
  • Map elements - deconstructing maps - line styles, fills, legends, map elements
  • Interactive session? - here I would like to have something where the participants discuss in groups given a challenge or something, using the info in the previous sessions...
  • Map types/tricks - different types of maps, figure-ground, choropleth, cartograms
  • Show and tell/critique - the participants show maps that they like, that that have turned out well or maps that they have had problems with, and we discuss it together

Any tips for that 3rd session?
Hugo Ahlenius
Nordpil - custom maps and GIS
http://nordpil.com/
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#2
David Medeiros

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Hey Frax, congratulations on the contract! Below is a link to some slides I used for a cartographic design lecture I gave to a Stanford GIS class last year. I still need to go back and re work the slides and lecture a little but perhaps they can be of some help. I had a very short 1 hour to go over all of this so it's not very comprehensive. I did find that most of the interest was in the interactive portion near the end where I had students evaluate map slides using learned information form the lecture topics. If I were to go back and do this again I would increase the interactive portion or intersperse the interactive map evaluations within each topic.

Good luck!

http://www.sonic.net...Cartography.pdf

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#3
Giasen

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How to Lie with Maps

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/0226534219
GPS

#4
Hans van der Maarel

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How about a little map-off in section 3? Do you have the facilities (computers, software) for that?

Have the attendees make groups, give each group the same source data and assignment (an easy one given the small amount of time of course) and then discuss the results afterwards. Explain that there's different ways of mapping things, we all have our own style. One is not necessarily better than the other.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#5
Gretchen Peterson

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Hugo, I'm in the same boat as you. I'll be giving a half-day seminar at Colorado State University this fall. One of the interactive sessions that I'll probably do involves going through the entire design, build, peer review, revise, present workflow of a typical map. It'll all be done quite quickly, with the students being given a map concept ("sketch out the places you go to regularly"), have time to design and create a sketch, then do a simple peer review and revision, then present their final map to a fellow student. I would want it to all be done really quickly, say 15 minutes tops, so that the students don't get hung up on the sketching part.

I'm also planning on doing some map critique of interactive and static maps that I've collected. At the end of the seminar will be a good time to have a discussion about the future of cartography.

#6
frax

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Hi, and thanks for all the tips!

My audience are all processionals, and my seminar is a refresher, so they won't be all green. I would prefer to not have to worry about a lab, and technical things (I don't even know - yet - what platform they are on).

One idea I had is to prepare a batch of maps with obvious errors/rooms for improvement and hand that out to groups to discuss and highlight things that could be done differently.
Hugo Ahlenius
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http://nordpil.com/
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#7
François Goulet

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A bit of Imhoff text placement couldn't hurt even trained cartographers:

Positioning Names on Maps

#8
Dennis McClendon

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I used to do talks like this for city planners. These were my main bullet points:

Prepare the map for printing instead of display. Think about line weight and type size when the map is used in an 8.5 x 11 report, not how it will look as a 30 x 48-inch plot at the meeting.

Start with a good base map. Less of a concern now, in the full GIS era, than it was back then. But people today use data layers—just because they have them—that are only of marginal importance to the point of the map. If you're mapping the cities where NACIS has been held, is shaded relief relevant?

Use data at an appropriate scale. You can't use shorelines digitized at 1:1 million on a map showing the city's waterfront at 1:4800. Similarly, those mountain roads digitized at 1:10,000 will pile up on each other at 1:250,000. Time to introduce generalization, aggregation, and displacement.

Don't be afraid to redraw. Still the thing I think would make the biggest difference in most maps. Once you've moved the map over to the Illustrator side, look at whether you could dramatically improve the look of the map by redrawing a few important but overly fussy lines: the city limits, an overly elaborate water feature or park, freeways or railroads that need to be smooth curves, long streets or boundaries that need to look straight.

Generalize. Related to the last point, but like shouting into the wind in the GIS era. But let me quote 1988 Dennis: "Every jot and tittle of a city's legal boundaries need not be shown, for instance, on a simple map locating a neighborhood within the city. In fact, it's distracting."

Use standard symbols. US highways have a distinctive shield, which is different from Interstates, and both are different from state shields. I was also railing back then against the inappropriate use of fill patterns that made no sense, such as Zipatone film with little tufts of grass to represent industrial districts.

Symbols may not be the best way to present data. Often it's better to just label every library than to invent some inscrutable symbol. If there's a symbol in the legend that only appears once on the map, time to rethink. And never force the reader to look at a numbered list if the labels will fit on the map.

Consider small multiples. Rather than cramming everything onto one big map, think about whether your point might be better made with a series of small multiples. Libraries and fire stations aren't interchangeable; why show them on the same map if you're looking for areas that lack one or the other? Even for land-use maps, perhaps the point is that most of the multifamily is east of the freeway, and a map for each type of use would better show the patterns than one big multicolored map.

Think negative as well as positive. We're so used to sketching with dark ink on white paper that we don't think about things like a gray or neutral-color ground, with some background information (like county lines or side streets) reversed out, and more important info in positive dark colors on top.

Think about the limits of reproduction. Back then I was talking about registration, the advantages of working in negative, and other quaint artifacts. But remember things like press gain, and beware of RGB color formulas that might get printed (unpredictably) in CMYK, or fonts that aren't incorporated in the final file sent to press.

Observe lettering conventions. Water features in italics, big features like mountain ranges letterspaced (but only if they're all caps).

Watch those patterns (and colors). Back then, people used patterns that didn't always have a clear progression. Today, they want to wander through the entire crayon box to differentiate thematic map districts, when they should be ranking those in a clear progression. Introduce them to ColorBrewer and sequential vs. qualitative. A grayed color palette can give a map sophistication that grocery-store reds and blues don't have.

Is a choropleth map appropriate? Or is the size of your districts overwhelming the differences in the data? The old familiar red-blue election night map problem. Alternatives: dot-density, bar charts or graduated circles on the districts.

Choose appropriate data class breaks. Quintiles vs. natural breaks vs. equal classes, etc.

Finally, my three pet peeves about marginalia: North-arrow worship (more attention apparently paid to that than the map itself); legends headed Legend; and class breaks like 200.0-499.9 that imply a false precision.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#9
frax

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Thanks all of you! The seminar went really well, even though I wasn't as prepared as I maybe should have been... The client was very happy, in any case!

Bit thanks to David - I borrowed a fair bit from your presentation, I hope that's ok!

For the interactive session(s) - on the clients suggestion we had two sessions of "speed-mapping" - like speed-dating, but with maps. In the first session, groups discussed four maps with four minutes for each maps - looking at the overall, and try to discuss if the maps were good in their communication of core messages.

In the second speed-mapping session the groups were looking at some of the same, and some new maps and examining the map elements and deconstruction - as well as looking for possible improvements. I had lectured about these things just before.
Hugo Ahlenius
Nordpil - custom maps and GIS
http://nordpil.com/
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