It feels a bit strange to be sitting here in my home office penning this letter to you, the readers of CP. I would hazard a guess that few of us would have imagined our current circumstances as the year turned over into a new decade, but here we are. The speed of modern transportation networks aided the quick spread of the novel coronavirus, but modern communication technologies have also helped us to more efficiently spread information that can reduce the human costs of the virus. Unfortunately, they have also led to the faster spread of misinformation, but that is a topic for another day.

Maps have been important to investigating and curbing disease outbreaks long before we were able to identify their causal agents through imaging techniques like microscopes or through cell cultures, assays, and DNA testing (Koch, 2005; 2011). They have been ubiquitous in devising responses to coronavirus in different parts of the world. Everyone connected to the internet must by now have seen some form of the Johns Hopkins dashboard that tracks cases across the world, and every major news outlet has their own set of maps and information visualizations about the outbreak. Even in my own household, I cannot escape coronavirus mapping because one of my family members is on the team that makes daily maps of cases to update decision makers here in Australia. Looking at too many of these maps can make you wonder how we will get through these times.

But maps are much more than technocratic tools for supporting decision making. They can also be used to give us joy, pleasure, and hope. For those of us who need something along these lines, I can point to a few ways that maps can give us moments of enjoyment in the upcoming weeks and months, during which many of us will be sheltering at home, with our normal activities curtailed or redirected. First, Anton Thomas’s long-awaited, hand-drawn map of North America is now in print. Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a copy of your own to hang on the wall, you can get lost in it for a while through some of the presentations he’s given on its construction at past NACIS Annual Meetings (2017; 2019). Second, Volume 5 of the Atlas of Design is currently being put together by editors Nat Case, Brooke Marston, Caroline Rose, and Vanessa Knoppke-Wetzel. This is definitely something to look forward to poring over later this year. For those of you who need a pick-me-up far sooner than that, there is the #mapsathome hashtag that Ken Field started a few weeks ago on Twitter, where you can find a daily dose of mappiness. If it’s interpersonal interaction with fellow map nerds that you’re missing, you can check out How to do Map Stuff, an online streaming conference started by Daniel Huffman, being held on 29th or 30th of April (depending on your location). Finally, I can now offer you this new volume of CP to peruse.

In CP 94, you will find two peer-reviewed articles. In the first, Georgianna Strode and colleagues revisit Bruce Trumbo’s ideas from the 1980s on bivariate choropleth map design. They offer a set of focal models that illustrate how bivariate choropleth maps can be designed to answer one of three types of questions. In the second article, Chelsea Nestel combines insights from cartographic semiotics and experiential graphic design to analyze the maps and signage at the ancient site of Troy. Her work underscores the importance of good design in enhancing the user experience at cultural heritage sites, especially those at which maps can help visitors to imagine landscape features that are now present only as remnants of their former structure.

At a time when many of us might like to escape planet Earth (or maybe only your housemates!), you can travel to the Moon with Eleanor Lutz’s piece in practical cartographer’s corner. It describes how she created the Geologic Map of the Moon that she displayed in the 2019 NACIS Annual Meeting’s Map Gallery.

In visual fields, Darin Jensen shows it is possible for people from all over the world to quickly collaborate to create something together in his piece on Guerrilla Cartography’s Atlas in A Day project, which took place in October 2019.

Four book reviews complete CP 94. Michelle Church reviews Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates, a thematic atlas produced through a collaboration between several Wyoming-based scientists and science communicators, and cartographers at the University of Oregon’s Infographics Lab. Allan Mustard, the banquet speaker at the 2019 NACIS Annual Meeting, draws on his past experience as diplomat posted to the USSR to ably provide a perspective on John Davies and Alexander Kent’s The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World. Daniel Cole summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of GIS for Science: Applying Mapping and Spatial Analytics, a recent Esri Press book edited by Esri’s Chief Scientist, Dawn Wright, and Christian Harder, which profiles interesting scientific projects that make use of mapping technologies. Finally, Jenny Marie Johnson compares the contents of three recent volumes penned by Edward Brooke-Hitching, an English writer and map collector, that tell the story behind a selection of historic maps. Each volume uses a different lens through which to view its selection of maps.

Please take care of yourself and each other. I hope CP 94’s contents provide you with a few hours of mappiness in these uncertain times.

Amy L. Griffin (she/hers)
Editor, Cartographic Perspectives


Koch, Tom. 2005. Cartographies of Disease: Maps, Mapping, and Medicine. Redlands, CA: ESRI Press.

———. 2011. Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.