Friday, February 08, 2008

No need for GPS

This post via Steve got me thinking about the old strip maps I have from the 1920s and 1930s (Fresno to Huntington Lake, etc). USC has a nice collection of AAA strip maps from that era. Here is LA to Bakersfield, and LA to La Canada and Sunland.

Strip maps are an old idea, check out this one from over 300 years ago.

Strip maps have been extensively studied, such as in "A linear view of the world: Strip maps as a unique form of cartographic representation". This discussion of cognition:
One reason for the success of strip maps over time and across cultures is the advantage of process over state descriptions for route following. In addition, continued popularity of the format and potential for its expanded use may also relate to advantages of such maps in helping people develop a cognitive map of an unfamiliar environment.
reminds me of Edwin Hutchins' book Cognition in the wild, which you should have read by now.

David Rumsey let you play with his collection of historical maps online way before Google maps. We've looked at the user interface as part of the graduate HCI class.

About ten years ago I picked up one of the 1000 copies of California 49:
California was an unusual corner of the world. The Spaniards kept what little information they had under tight wraps. There were few reasons to visit today's California - little water, no obvious gold, and few people to exploit, so it remained a backwater for centuries. European mapmakers tried filling the vacuum, struggling with a lack of accurate information but always ready to copy from one another. This is how "the island of California" was born.

This intriguing anomaly has fascinated map collectors for years. The California Map Society decided to pull together important historic maps as a state sesquicentennial project. Their 1999 publication, "California 49," included forty-nine such maps. Printed in only 1000 copies, it quickly sold out. You might look for a copy in your local or University library.
Finally, sometimes I occasionally turn a map upside down, but I find this disturbing.