This is a very slim, highly-curated selection of some of Kottke's favorite maps, emphasizing the old, weird, and awesome:
- Marco. Polo. Google. Rachel Leow retraces MP's voyage in annotations to Google Maps. I'm in this post!
- Maps as metaphor. Things like a recipe for omelettes conveyed in the form of maps.
- The beauty of maps, a BBC series.
- A Milky Way tube map.
- Ten maps that changed the world.
- 20 cool ancient maps.
- Maps of tunnel networks, the physical kind, not IPvWhatever. Great map of the Maginot line.
- Aerial map of NYC from 1924.
- A three-year-old's view of the NYC subway. OP drew a map showing landmarks most relevant to her niece.
- Caricature map of Europe, 1914. France is a kepi-wearing elephant, Norway and Sweden are trolls that look a lot like fish. (Probably just the shape.)
- Strange maps. You don't say.
- Nazi invasion of the USSR. This one's in Flash.
- Harry Beck's Paris Metro map. Beck designed the London tube map and tried Paris. Actual map's behind a firewall, but Jason's description is good.
- Typographic map of London. Like synthetic cubism with letters.
- Maps drawn from memory.
- "Wikipedia has a series of maps showing the political and social boundries of the world in 2000 BC, 1000 BC, 500 BC, 323 BC and so on."
- Historical maps on Google Earth.
- Map of the galaxy in which Star Wars takes place. Update: This one has succumbed to linkrot, but Wikipedia's got your back.
- "The Mannahatta Project is constructing maps of what Manhattan was like in 1609, before its 'discovery' by Henry Hudson."
Let's start with Gutenberg again. In 2008, Jason blogged about Stephen Fry's brilliant documentary The Machine That Made Us, about Gutenberg's career and his experiments with print. Fry even assembles a team to build a replica. The YouTube clips Jason embedded are gone, but you can still catch a short clip at the BBC. (I think Brits can still catch the whole thing on iPlayer, lucky bastards you are.)
If Gutenberg is too newfangled for you, there's also the St John's Bible, a hand-lettered illuminated manuscript that will set you back a cool $145,000 (and that's 2009 dollars.) A few months earlier, Jason assembled a catalog of some unusual Bibles, including copies in Manga and Lego.
If you actually want to read the Bible, there's the conveniently titled How to Read the Bible, by Hebrew Studies professor James Kugel, an Orthodox Jew who nonetheless dismantles most of claims of events in the Bible to be historical fact. Or if you think fresh eyes can have something more to offer than expertise, there's Blogging the Bible, by David Plotz, who writes about each book of the Old Testament having never read the book before. And if you want to close your eyes for the scary parts, here is a list of the Bible's greatest massacres.
If you don't actually want to read the Bible, at least as it is, you're in good company. Steven Johnson's Invention of Air includes a look at Thomas Jefferson, who famously crossed out references to miracles. The translators who wrote the King James Bible just made up unicorns, all on their own. And no, the Bible Code doesn't work either. It's just statistical noise.
Finally, are you into data visualization? Forget those boring "beget"s, artifact of that silly oral tradition. Have we got a family tree for you!
I know some of you probably miss Jason. I miss him too. So I rooted around in the boxes he keeps in the garage to find stuff that probably meant a lot to him and gathered it together to share with you.
Do you remember how in the 1980s, on The Tonight Show when Johnny wasn't hosting, and Jay Leno or Garry Shandling or whoever wasn't pitching in, they'd show a rerun with little clips of Johnny and Ed McMahon's voice gravely intoning "The Best of Carson"? That was as close as you got to YouTube back then. This is kind of like that.
This box from Jason's garage is marked August 2005. I'm going to try to do this once each day while I'm guest-hosting this week. And I feel that I'm on solid ground here, since my favorite Kottke post that month is "Looking backward at the future," a collection of long-past predictions of the future, little time capsules to open up and re-examine. Another, The present future, challenges readers to imagine the future of the web without using the following words:
Ajax, web services, weblogs, Google, del.icio.us, Flickr, folksonomy, tags, hacks, podcasting, wikis, bottom-up, RSS, citizen journalism, mobile, TiVo, the Long Tail, and convergence.
Terrific, revealing stuff in the comments on that one.
The structure of Kottke.org changed a lot that month. Jason changed the formatting of the shorter posts, which changed how the site was read and made:
It's a subtle change, but in a lot of ways it's a return for me to an older style of blogging: link-dense, off-the-cuff, linking for subtext and not reference (a practice pioneered by Suck). Not having to limit myself to one link (as with the old style of remaindered link) or feel like I need to write something of substance to justify a post with a title and it's own archive page (as with my main posts...it's kind of amazing how post titles and individual archives have made blog posts seem more like magazine or newspaper articles than, well, blog posts) has been great. There was a missing intermediate baby bear sort of post that was difficult for me to do easily and on a regular basis. With this switch, it's just right.
I think I'm still stuck on justifying the title, but Jason's practice definitely influenced the way I strung together multiple ideas into little constellations. Also, weird how the pull/comment + link style has been resurrected on Twitter.
Adding titles to posts (even shorter ones, eventually, got titles back) and largely moving away from comments changed how the site worked too -- see "A little less conversation and a little more philosophical voyeurism." (Psst -- that title puns on an Elvis song that was remixed and re-released and became popular in 2002. See how you forget these things?) We're still trying to figure out how comments on blogs are supposed to work. Maybe blogs have become more like a magazine, but a hyperconnected one. Magazines have definitely become more like blogs.
Peter Jennings died. Katrina and its aftermath devastated New Orleans and the Gulf coast. We were trying to name what looked to become the tenth planet in our solar system.
The Aristocrats, which was culturally huge, is (I think) mostly forgotten. The Wedding Crashers has fared better, helping kick off a spree of neo-Caddyshack comedies. Anchorman, released the year before, only got one star from Jason (without review) has probably become better-remembered and more indicative of contemporary comedy than either of them.
It might seem navel-gazing (even if it isn't my navel), but sometimes I think flattening out history (even if it's the history of a blog) -- looking at everything simultaneously rather than following a narrative of how one big thing changed -- tells you more than you'd think, by making everything seem less familiar, and much less inevitable.