The drinking society with a mapping problem
I’ve recently returned from Sacramento after attending the 2009 conference of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), and I wish to briefly plug the organization here in case either of my readers is not already familiar with it.
If you work with maps, you should join NACIS and go to its meetings. Consider these facts:
- NACIS represents all sorts of cartography, and you will see some amazing maps and learn about lots of work that’s going on in the field.
- NACIS comprises all sorts of cartographers, and you will meet some all-around fantastic people and make useful contacts.
- NACIS offers some incentives for students, including several map awards and I believe one or two travel awards.
- NACIS not only accepts, but embraces and encourages your drinking habit.
- NACIS is a darn good time.
Except that an outbreak of swine flu among my friends apparently occurred, I had a blast this year and greatly enjoyed shaking many hands and talking (with varying coherence) to many people whom I hope to call friends and whom I very much look forward to seeing again next year or sooner.
Some quick highlights:
- Stamen Design’s Michal Migurski was the keynote speaker. I was thrilled to meet and chat a bit with Mike, whom I admire to a point just shy of having posters of him on my walls. He’s posted his talk on his site, so check it out. It was very good to see someone like him and a topic like his invited to NACIS, as I think the organization has hitherto been lacking in representatives of some important new trends in cartography.
- Natural Earth Vector was unveiled here by Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson. This project is, quite simply, a godsend to cartographers. It’s a big collection of geographic reference vector data designed by cartographers for cartographers (i.e., designed to look good at various scales). Keep an eye out; it’s due to be released soon.
- Cartographic Perspectives, the NACIS journal, was introduced in a new digital, open-access format. You can download the special issue (PDF). Also see the CP page on the NACIS site, where you can access archived issues.
- Another face that was good to see at a NACIS conference: a representative from Google! Andy Szybalski, the designer of Street View, spoke about the powers and limitations of combining immersive views with maps, and gave us a look at the evolution of Street View’s design. All told he seemed to be a hit with everyone and was a pleasure to meet.
- Of course I’m going to promote my own work here. We gentlemen proprietors of Axis Maps showed off indiemapper for the first time, and are getting ever closer to being able to launch this awesomeness. I’ll let the website do the advertising, but if anyone who was present at NACIS should happen by here and didn’t already give us an earful (or, um, suspects that the Axis end of the conversation may not have recalled it the next morning), we welcome your feedback! Hit me or anybody else at Axis Maps.
- There was a bathtub full of beer.
And there were many other excellent people to meet and things to see and hear, too numerous to list. So get in on this! Next year, St. Petersburg, Florida!
A note on the post title: somebody (I don’t remember who) characterized the group this way in the past, so it’s not just me saying it, although we who came up through UW-Madison have tried to be the standard-bearers.