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Archive for December, 2012

Two Maps are Better Than One

 :: Posted by admin on 12-30-2012

If you want to make sure that people can get a birds-eye view of the area, and also navigate at street level, having two maps is a good idea. Illustrated maps are a powerful tool, but they tend to abstract out a lot of important details. This means that they’re useful for highlighting that the cathedral is in the northern part of the city, but not so handy for someone that wants to know how to get to the cathedral from their hotel.
One interesting example of how illustrated maps and detailed maps can be vastly different from each other is the fictional world of Achaea. This text-based game features two maps on its website. One is an illustrated map of the entire game world, which offers a simple overview of the locations of important cities. The second map is a location by location map of every single “room” in the game. There are thousands of “rooms” in the game, and the detailed map is so complex that it makes a map of the London Underground look like a child’s sketch.
A new player, or a first-time visitor, looking at the detailed map would be confused and bewildered, and would probably give up before exploring it in any detail. The illustrated map provides enough information for such a casual observer, and offers it in a more familiar, and much more easily understood, form.
It’s unlikely that you, as an event organizer, would need to produce a map on a level of Achaea’s detailed map (although some trade shows do have a huge number of booths these days!). However, the lesson remains the same. By putting usability first you can ensure that your visitors get the best possible experience, and don’t end up feeling lost before they even set foot in the area.

Satire in Illustrated maps

 :: Posted by admin on 12-01-2012

Many illustrated maps are serious in nature. Some are designed as artistic items, some historic illustrated maps have a religious significance, and some modern ones are simply playful, clear illustrations that are designed to make it easy for visitors to navigate the city they are visiting, or the festival that’s currently happening.
Some maps, however, have a more interesting purpose. Satire artist Fred W. Rose put together an interesting satirical cartoon map which laid out the status of Europe in 1877. That year was an incredibly volatile one for European politics. Rose’s map takes a traditional geographical map of Europe, and uses that as a framework for his satire.
At first glance, it looks like a normal map. Individual countries are colored in Red, green, orange, and yellow, and it’s easy enough to identify the countries by sight. The names of the countries are also provided.
What makes this map a satire is the way that he has merged anthropomorphic and zoomorphic maps. The countries are drawn vaguely in their own shape, but altered slightly so that they represent political figures and mythical animals.
An octopus is used to represent Russia, with tentacles reaching out to grab other countries. Turkey is depicted in national dress, aiming a pistol at the Octopus. Hungary is shown as being ready for a fight, but Austria is attempting to hold it back. Germany’s Emperor Wilhelm I is looking away from the conflict, but has a stockpile of ammunition ready, just in case. French general Patrice de MacMahon is depicted with a canon pointed at Germany, ready and waiting for the opportunity to avenge its defeat in the recent war.
The illustrations in this map are amazingly powerful. So powerful, in fact, that Japan made use of this particular illustration more than 20 years later as a propaganda image to win the support of Europe in their war.