This is the two thousandth post I have made to The Map Room. It’s taken me a while to get here: four years, four months, and a few extra days.
When I started this blog, I was interested in maps, didn’t know enough about them, and wanted to learn more, but I couldn’t find a site that gave me what I wanted — namely, an introduction to what I thought would be a large body of mapping sites on the web. So I started one myself, figuring that I would learn as I went.
Along the way, other blogs have appeared: blogs about maps, mapping and cartography; blogs about the geospatial industry; blogs about Google Maps; blogs about Google Earth. Many of them are very good, and are written by people who know what they’re talking about. Some generate more traffic and revenue than I do here. But they cover a differnet niche. I simply can’t cover the geospatial industry as well as someone who actually works in it, and there’s too much about mashups and Google Earth to cover them and everything else. I’m relieved that there are other people there to do a better job of it.
As a result, The Map Room has become, at least in my own mind, the map blog for the generalist — for amateurs like me. My imaginary reader — the one who I write for — is someone for whom the latest ArcGIS release is not really important, for whom the inside baseball of the geospatial industry is irrelevant unless it has an impact on the maps they view, who may be interested in map mashups — how to make them, but not in their technical details or their monetization — and who, most importantly, is interested in maps for their own sake: how they’re made, how they look, and their history.
It doesn’t always work out that way: in practice, it has become a blog that reflects my own obsessions. Most blogs are like that. I’ve been learning to trust my instincts. And my instincts have led me toward regular coverage of a number of topics: I’ll always make time to cover projections, Macintosh software, news of map thefts, books and new mapping blogs; as a photographer I have an unhealthy interest in geotagging, and I think I have latent roadgeeking tendencies. Sometimes my desire to be thorough borders on the compulsive: see, for example, my coverage of l’affaire Forbes Smiley (see Map Thefts), the controversy over paper topo maps in Canada (see Topo Maps & Trails), and the hurricanes of 2005. Lately I seem to be cataloguing every stupid GPS navigation-related driving error as well.
Because I’m not an expert, and because this blog was seen from the beginning as a means to point to mapping-related material elsewhere, it has not been a source for much original content. This has been commented upon, though not nearly to the same extent that, for example, it has been for Slashgeo (a bit unfairly, I think). But pointing to neat stuff elsewhere was blogging’s original purpose, and I won’t apologize for it. Even so, I have managed to be somewhat original from time to time. My book reviews, for example. Here are a few others:
- On the iPhone and Its Lack of GPS (July 11, 2007)
- Apparently I’m a Pundit Now (May 11, 2007)
- Local Logging Maps (February 19, 2007)
- Turn the Map Over (February 12, 2007)
- The Piri Reis Map of 1513 (February 1, 2007)
- Google Maps on a Palm TX (October 13, 2006)
- Non-Mapping Blogs That Nevertheless Have Map Content from Time to Time (April 30, 2006)
- Maps and Me: A Personal Essay (March 31, 2005)
- Mapping Middle-earth (August 17, 2004)
- Maps on Your PDA (June 25, 2003)
- Universal Transverse Mercator (June 5, 2003)
I have some ideas on where to go from here. There are books I’d like to review, interviews I’d like to conduct, features I’d like to add to the site — maybe even get into podcasting. Trouble is, I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, especially since I’m working on a full-time contract at least for the next couple of months, so many of these ideas will have to wait even longer than usual. Whatever; I’m not going anywhere — at least not yet.