My Year in Maps

Lots happened in 2016 to keep cartographers busy…here are some of my highlights (in no particular order).


Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line at the British Library is an absolutely extraordinary exhibition at the British Library. The breadth and quality of maps on display is amazing. (Inspired by the exhibition, I am giving a talk at the British Library on Feb 3rd. Details here).


My favourite blog post of the year was written by Greg Miller. Entitled How Map Makers Make Mountains Rise Off The Page, it was a great exploration of one of the hardest things a cartographer can do – creating realistic terrain.

Select maps from our new book, Where The Animals Go

Publishing Where the Animals Go was easily the biggest personal highlight. Oliver Uberti and I invested a huge amount of effort in the cartography create visually appealing maps that packed a huge amount of detail – both about the natural environment and also the animals themselves. atlas

I often get surprise reminders about the power of maps in unexpected places. This year I picked up The Wonder Atlas from a vintage market in Bristol. Written in a child’s handwriting on the first page was simply “To Wendy from Malcolm”. This is what made me buy it. Wendy (I assume) has coloured in the dot above as, I hope, she plans her first adventures “by air from London”.



Lots to talk about with Brexit but the two stand-out (in a bad way) maps for me were the BBC’s completely impenetrable 3D graphics (first above) and the leave campaigners’ very simple but powerful propaganda (second above) posted through my door in the run up to the referendum.


The Two Americas of 2016 published in the NY Times was an innovative take on showing the relative expanse of Trump supporters vs the compactness of Clinton’s votes. This urban/rural divide is well known but the fragmented map above really brings it home.


Kiln are doing lots of really impressive work with big data and visualisation. Their Ship Map is a fantastic example of this.

wrld_pop Duncan Smith’s World Population Density map is another favourite from the year. I really like the cartography and the additional statistics overlay.simdMy final map of the year is the interactive map of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation that Oliver O’Brien and I created for the Scottish Government. It is the latest to use the DataShine platform that he and I developed a number of years ago and has already proved to be a big success in communicating the areas of most (and least) need in Scotland.