I really love maps. Especially historical ones or even maps of fictional worlds. Have loved them ever since I was a kid, poring over them and dreaming of far off places. Unsurprisingly, I’ve worked a lot with GIS (back when it was still called that…) and with making maps available online or putting other types of content into geographical context through interactive maps. So I thought this time I’d share some thoughts on map related stuff.
First out is the map annotations solution, often called YUMA, developed by Europeana Connect. Apart from allowing crowdsourced georeferencing of maps it also allows users to annotate them. Unlike many other tagging tools these tags are cross-linked with sources like DBpedia or GeoNames and through them pulls in multi-lingual labels. That in turn makes it possibly to search such annotated maps using place names expressed in multiple languages or using older place names.
Take a look at this video to see how it works! The solution is open source so everyone out their with map collections, consider implementing it! Note that Europeana Connect has corresponding solutions for audio, video and image annotations and have also adapted the framework into a prototype for a nerdsourced map labeling prototype, Compass.
Let’s follow this up with some news that will also point the way to a great source of openly licensed historical maps: Wikimedia Commons. Recently they received a donation of high-resolution scans of historical maps from a commercial maps dealer.
I find it quite ironic that a commercial dealer so readily shares its maps under open licences when so many publically funded institutions claim copyright on scans of maps that have been in the public domain for centuries. So GLAMs could you please stop doing that?
As mentioned in the beginning of this blog post one of the things I really love with maps are the stories hidden within! Stories of adventure or as in this great example from the BBC the story of Africa. Another site that consistently brings out the stories hidden within maps is Strangemaps. Here is an example of one of their strange maps, a map of a Dutch mega-dijk that never was!