From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
On June 3, almost 9 months after the first post on September 10 last year, the hit counter on strangemaps went up to 1 million. Today, a bit over a month after the first million, the counter hit 2 million. At this rate of acceleration, strangemaps will hit its third million within a week. And will be up to a gazillion come September 10 this year.
Well, maybe not.
The map comparing US states to countries with similar GDPs (#131) was a gigantic crowd-puller, garnering a little over 160.000 hits in just one day, June 12. The speed with which the second million swung around is in large part due to the attention that map generated. To see a few thought-provoking spin-offs of the map and read some interesting background on its origin, please go to the follow-up post (#135).
I don’t know whether a similar big hit will come around. In any case, I’m not looking for one. I’ll keep doing what I did – look for ‘strange maps’: maps that are ‘different’, tell a story, probably aren’t in any atlas and are nice to look at to boot. The search for those maps has become easier by the hundreds of suggestions that have flooded in via the strangemaps e-mail address (in the sidebar). I’m thankful for all those mails, but please understand I won’t be able to post each and every suggested map.
This might also be a good moment to answer the most frequently asked question: Is there an RSS feed for this blog? Even though I don’t quite know what an RSS feed is, I can tell you that yes, there is one: strangemaps.wordpress.com/feed should do it. And maybe one day soon I’ll figure out how to put that address in the sidebar.
I’m also in the process of categorising the 140-odd map entries so far, which should make for some interesting sub-collections… Please browse the categories and let me know what you think.
That’s it. Thanks for watching!
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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