Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm a cartographer.


"So, what do you do?"
"I am a cartgrapher."

"What's that?"
"I make maps"
"Yes, I get that a lot and it is a great job."
"But wait, hasn't everything already been mapped?"

This is how it often goes, but as cartographers this is one of the most enjoyable exchanges we have.

It's hard to find someone who doesn't love maps. In our day to day activities we see people who take it even one step further. I work with people who are nuts over road maps, they actually get updates to highways emailed to them. I work with people who are fanatical about boundaries and can instantly pick out the improper boundary of Finland, for example, depending on the year of the map. This is what we do, and we love it. Photoshop addicts, who think about the best way to bring out the shading of a hill. Energy like this will be gathering in one week from today for the mapgiving kick-off. The Wayfinders will be uniting, some meeting for the first time, to apply the love of this craft to our very deserving client.

Do you love maps too? We're considering making some additional buttons if there is interest.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bits and bites

In sorting through the hundreds of megabytes of data, I realized around 3 pm that I'd neglected to eat even one bite of food all day. We are excited to have so much data in-hand, yet we went on hunt to find more. Our client informed us of a group in the Milwaukee area that has an extensive collection of data.

So we searched, contacting some colleagues that might have had some more information about this data, and after a little more sleuthing, we found the data we were looking for. Now, we are working with this group to obtain, a more manageable sub-set of these data. While we want to be prepared, we must balance the desire to have more than what the teams really need to complete the maps, with having too little data, or worse, not having the right data for the job. If we get too much data, it would likley lead to unecessarily large file sizes, making it difficult to work with when trying to map the area of interest.

On the way to the fax machine I made a desperate effort of rummaging through my bag in search of something edible, as luck would have it, I found a lonely Cliff Bar (
black cherry almond) buried below a CDs, a collection of "to-do" lists, and books. I do like Cliff Bars, don't get me wrong, but It's amazing how good something can taste when it's the first thing you had to eat all day.

Once we receive this set of data (truly incredible to find all of this in one place), we will pause to ask ourselves, "To trace or not to trace?". Is it too detailed, does the detail interfere with the purpose of the map? If so, Lou and I will need to decide if this is a task that is manageable for the ten Wayfinders, within the twelve hour time frame that we have established with all of the other things we are asking them to do.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The goodies

Tonight we are organizing data. As we dig through the information that we have, we are dividing it up based on each Wayfinder's specialty, as they have indicated to us in our communication with them. The captains, will then be handed all of the information and will direct the production.

Friday, September 26, 2008

the (un)usual suspects

Are you curious as to who the wayfinders are for the kick-off event? Without giving away all of the juicy details, we would like you to meet the team...

Neil Allen (captain, print) Allan Cartography
David Barnes ESRI
Martha Bostwick Maps.com
Nat Case Hedberg Maps
Ginny Mason National Geographic
Jim Meacham UO InfoGraphics Lab
Glen Pawelski XNR Productions
Nick Ramirez Humbolt State University
Nick Springer (captain, web) Springer Cartographics LLC
Jeremy White Blueshirt and University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Putting the pieces together

The meeting with the client today was great. We are excited to get all of the information organized and start sharing it with you. We received the standard base map information (which we're very grateful to have) and some wonderful surprises too (e.g., historic photos, cultural data).

We will continue to offer you pieces of the puzzle over the course of the coming week, in anticipation of seeing the teams come together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Tomorrow I head back to Milwaukee, after a successful conference call last week. We decided it is beneficial for me to meet with the client. The purpose of the meeting will be to secure data and assets for our teams. The client is extremely excited about the proposed approach and had many great ideas to add.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can you hear me now?

After a few weeks of trying to connect all of the necessary parties, we were finally able to get the two representatives from the client's side and Lou and I all on the phone together this afternoon.

We felt super-charged after the conference call to have had the chance to share our ideas and hear the client's hopes and uses for the maps. We are encouraged because there will be more data to work with than we had anticipated. Next week, I will be going to Milwaukee to meet with the client to sift through all of it. The packet of information that the teams receive on October 7 will be a goldmine of information.