Artistic Maps of Pakistan & India Show the Embroidery Techniques of Their Different Regions

Journalist Saima Mir posted to Twitter this "map of Pakistan showing the embroidery techniques of its regions." And, sure enough, it led to someone surfacing a corresponding map of Pakistan's neighbor, India. The underlying message of the maps? It's to show, as @AlmostLived noted, "how diverse elements come together to make beautiful things." The map above was originally produced by Generation, a Pakistani fashion company. We're not clear on the origin of the India map, unfortunately.

via Boing Boing

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All the Rivers & Streams in the U.S. Shown in Rainbow Colours: A Data Visualization to Behold

This is a sight for sore eyes. Created by Hungarian geographer and map-designer Robert Szucs, using open-source QGIS software, the high resolution map above shows:

all the permanent and temporary streams and rivers of the contiguous 48 states in beautiful rainbow colours, divided into catchment areas. It shows Strahler Stream Order Classification. The higher the stream order, the thicker the line.

When you look at the map, you'll see, as The Washington Post observes, "Every river in a color drains to the same river, which then drains into the ocean. The giant basin in the middle of the country is the Mississippi River basin. Major rivers like the Ohio and the Missouri drain into the behemoth." Pretty impressive.




The map was apparently made using data from the European Environment Agency and the Rivers Network System.

You can find the map on Imgur, or purchase "ultra high" resolution copies through Etsy for $8.

Szucs has als0 produced data visualizations of the river systems in China, India, Europe and other parts of the world.

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Ancient Rome’s System of Roads Visualized in the Style of Modern Subway Maps

Sasha Trubetskoy, an undergrad at U. Chicago, has created a "subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD." Drawing on Stanford’s ORBIS model, The Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary, Trubetskoy's map combines well-known historic roads, like the Via Appia, with lesser-known ones (in somes cases given imagined names). If you want to get a sense of scale, it would take, Trubetskoy tells us, "two months to walk on foot from Rome to Byzantium. If you had a horse, it would only take you a month."

You can view the map in a larger format here. And if you follow this link and send Trubetskoy a few bucks, he promises to email you a crisp PDF for printing. Enjoy.

via coudal

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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“The Wonderground Map of London Town,” the Iconic 1914 Map That Saved the World’s First Subway System

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Animated GIFs Show How Subway Maps of Berlin, New York, Tokyo & London Compare to the Real Geography of Those Great Cities

You can't make a perfectly accurate map, as Jorge Luis Borges so succinctly told us, without making it the exact same size and shape as the land it portrays. But given the utter uselessness of such an enormous piece of paper (which so frustrated the citizens of the imaginary empire in Borges' story that, "not without some pitilessness," they tossed theirs into the desert), no mapmaker would ever want to. A more compact map is a more useful one; unfortunately, a more compact map is also, by its very nature, a less accurate one.

New York

The same rule applies to maps of all kinds, and especially to transit maps, quite possibly the most useful specialized maps we consult today. They show us how to navigate cities, and yet their clean, bold lines, sometimes turning but never wavering, hardly represent those cities — subject as they are to variations in terrain and density, as well as centuries of unplannably organic growth — with geographical faithfulness. One can't help but wonder just how each urban transit map, some of them beloved works of design, strikes the usefulness-faithfulness balance.

London

Living in Seoul, I've grown used to the city's standard subway map. I thus get a kick out of scrutinizing the more geographically accurate one, which overlays the train lines onto an existing map of the city, posted on some station platforms. It reveals the truth that some lines are shorter than they look on the standard map, some are much longer, and none cut quite as clean a path through the city as they seem to. At Twisted Sifter you'll find a GIF gallery of 15 standard subway maps that morph into more geographically faithful equivalents, a vivid demonstration of just how much transit map designers need to twist, squeeze, and simplify an urban landscape to produce something legible at a glance.

Tokyo

All of those animations, just five of which you see in this post, come from the subreddit Data Is Beautiful, a realm populated by enthusiasts of the visual display of quantitative information — enthusiasts so enthusiastic that many of them create innovative data visualizations like these by themselves. According to their creations, subway maps, like that of New York City's venerable system, do relatively little to distort the city; others, like Tokyo's, look nearly unrecognizable when made to conform to geography.

Austin

Even the maps of new and incomplete transit networks do a number on the real shape and direction of their paths: the map of Austin, Texas' Capital MetroRail, for instance, straightens a somewhat zig-zaggy northeast-southwest track into a single horizontal line. It may take a few generations before Austin's "system" develops into one extensive and complex enough to inspire one of the great transit maps (the ranks, for example, of "The Wonderground Map of London Town"). But I wouldn't count out the possibility: the more fully cities realize their public-transit potential, the more opportunity opens up for the advancement of the subway mapmaker's art.

See all 15 of the subway GIFs at Twisted Sifter.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Timelapse Animation Lets You See the Rise of Cities Across the Globe, from 3700 BC to 2000 AD

Last year, a Yale-led research project produced an innovative dataset that mapped the history of urban settlements. Covering a 6,000 year period, the project traced the location and size of cities across the world, starting in 3700 BC (when the first known urban dwellings emerged in Sumer) and continuing through 2000 AD. According to Yale's Meredith Reba, if we understand “how cities have grown and changed over time, throughout history, it might tell us something useful about how they are changing today,” and particularly whether we can find ways to make modern cities sustainable.

The Yale dataset was originally published in Scientific Data in 2016. And before too long, some enterprising YouTuber brought the data to life. Above, the history of urban life unfolds before your eyes. The action starts off slow, but then later kicks into high gear.

You can read more about the mapping of urban settlements at this Yale website. And see the animated map in a larger format here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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Timelapse Film Shows How the British Library Digitized the World’s Largest Atlas, the 6-Foot Tall “Klencke Atlas” from 1660

As a way of currying favor with a monarch, Johannes Klencke’s gift to Charles II (1630-1685) was one of the most audacious and beautiful objects ever offered. Klencke was a Dutch sugar merchant and knew that the king loved maps, and hoped that his gift would land him a favorable trading deal. (It did. He got knighted.)

The gift, the 1660 Klencke Atlas, is one of the world's biggest books at nearly six feet tall and nearly seven and a half feet wide when open, and it contains 41 wall maps of various accuracy. We first posted about the Klencke Atlas back in 2015, where you can see a short BBC doc on the British Library’s care of the book. But only recently has the library been able to scan the maps so the public can now access them for free in high resolution.




The above video, which the British Library posted by way of Daniel Crouch Rare Books, shows a time-lapse of the multiple day shoot, which took several people, a very large room, several lights, and a specially designed stand to hold the heavy volume.

The public domain images are now part of the Library’s Picturing Places website, which holds many examples of rare maps, landscapes, and large scale technical drawings.

The book itself, as huge as it might be, is actually very fragile, so now the public and scholars can fully explore these maps at leisure while the original goes back into storage.

via Hyperallergic

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

New, Interactive Web Site Puts Online Thousands of International Folk Songs Recorded by the Great Folklorist Alan Lomax

These days everyone’s hung up on identity. But I don’t mean to talk politics, though my point is maybe inescapably political: the identities our jobs and incomes give us---the status or lack thereof---become so central to who we are in the world that they eclipse other essential aspects, eclipse the things we do strictly because it gives us pleasure to do them.

Music, dance, art, poetry.... These fall under what Alan Lomax called an experience of “the very core” of existence, “the adaptive style” of culture, “which enables its members to cohere and survive." Culture, for Lomax, was neither an economic activity nor a racial category, neither an exclusive ranking of hierarchies nor a redoubt for nationalist insecurities. Cultures, plural, were peculiarly regional expressions of shared humanity across one interrelated world.

Lomax did have some paternalistic attitudes toward what he called “weaker peoples,” noting that “the role of the folklorist is that of the advocate of the folk.” But his advocacy was not based in theories of supremacy but of history. We could mend the ruptures of the past by adding “cultural equity… to the humane condition of liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and social justice,” wrote the idealistic Lomax. “The stuff of folklore,” he wrote elsewhere, “the orally transmitted wisdom, art and music of the people, can provide ten thousand bridges across which men of all nations may stride to say, ‘You are my brother.’”

Lomax’s idealism may seem to us quaint at best, but I dare you to condemn its results, which include connecting Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie to their global audiences and preserving a good deal of the folk music heritage of the world through tireless field and studio recording, documentation and memoir, and institutions like the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), founded by Lomax in 1986 to centralize and make available the vast amount of material he had collected over the decades.

In another archival project, Lomax's Global Jukebox, we get to see rigorous scholarly methods applied to examples from his vast library of human expressions. The online project catalogues the work in musicology of Lomax and his father John, who both took on a “life long mission to document not only America’s cultural roots, but the world’s as well," notes an online brochure for the Global Jukebox. Lomax believed that “music, dance and folklore of all traditions have equal value” and are equally worthy of study. The Global Jukebox carries that belief into the 21st century.

Since 1990, the Global Jukebox has functioned as a digital repository of music from Lomax’s global archive, as you can see in the very dated 1998 video above, featuring ACE director Gideon D’Arcangelo. Now, updated and put online, the newly-launched Global Jukebox web site provides an interactive interface, giving you access to detailed analyses of folk music from all over the world, and highly technical “descriptive data” for each song. You can learn the systems of “Choreometrics and Cantometrics”---specialized analytical tools for scientists---or you can casually browse the incredible diversity of music as a layperson, through a beautifully rendered map view or the colorfully attractive graphic “tree view,” below.

Stop by the Global Jukebox’s “About” page to learn much more about its technical specificities and history, which dates to 1960 when Lomax began working with anthropologist Conrad Arensberg at Columbia and Hunter Universities to study “the expressive arts” with scientific tools and emerging technologies. The Global Jukebox represents a highly schematic way of looking at Lomax’s body of work, and its ease of use and level of detail make it easy to leap around the world, sampling the thrilling variety of folk music he collected.

It is not, and is not meant as, a substitute for the living traditions Lomax helped safeguard, and the incredible music they have inspired professional and amateur musicians to make over the years. But the Global Jukebox gives us several unique ways of organizing and discovering those traditions---ways that are still evolving, such as a coming function for building your own cultural family tree with a playlist of songs from your musical ancestry.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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