OT long - Maps and sense of place

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Tue Sep 14 12:33:59 EDT 1999

>>I find it annoying that fewer and fewer modern atlases (atlae?) print latitude
>>and longitude in the index.  They expect you only to use it to find a place on
>>the map, and they claim that people finde page + square references easier to
>>use.  Which means that it is more and more difficult to look up the
>>of places.
> Out of curiosity why do you want the exact lat-lon? Atlases will have
> the markigns on the maps even if it's not listed in the index, so a
> rough lat-lon is easy enough to get. I'd certainly agree that page
> references are necessary, but that doesn't mean they can't have both.

I cannot now remember why I wanted exact lat and long - but does it matter?
Isn't that what an atlas is for?  All the best ones give lat and long, together
with the page number of the most appropriate map.  Why do people find this hard
to use?  It is much, much easier than "page 51, square B7" on all but the
sparsest maps...

(I expect it's largely my scientist/engineer mentality - always want to know the
exact measurement, even if it doesn't matter...)

> And for national atlases aren't there standard grid systems? Certainly
> in the UK the OS National Grid seems just as useful as lat-lon for
> "geographical" (as opposed to what I think of as "planetary") data.

I have no objection to grid references using a standard grid.  At least the road
atlas I buy for the UK (A to Z FWIW) makes its grid squares follow the standard,
even if it still refers to "B7" or whatever in the index.

>>I am not a geographer - I just didn't mesh with the teaching we had at school,
>>and gave it up at age 14.
> Me too. But I am the daughter of a geographer, and I've always loved,
> memorised, and drawn maps.

I've always loved maps.  It's just geography I hated (why should we be tested on
the exact breeds of sheep and cattle that happened to be raised on the
particular farm that was used as the textbook example?...) :-)

>>  But more recently I have been buying books on
>>geography, cartography and the like and my interest is reviving.  My personal
>>problem is that most of these books adopt a very non-mathematical approach,
>>I keep asking How do you calculate this and that...
> That's cos the majority of geography students can't cope with maths!!!
> <vbg> (sorry geog students, I know lots of you can). At the uni here
> it's a bit like the game Black Maria (to try to get this vaguely back on
> topic!) -- whoever ends up having to teach first year stats has lost the
> game.

:-)  Why not a textbook appendix...

[Grid-plan cities]

> Can anyone think of any at all in Europe? I've never been to a grid city
> but imagine them to be a little dull? Less landscape and town plannign
> history to them, and probably really boring road names???? (coo, what
> prejudice <g> I grew up with mediaeval layouts extant.)

Many UK cities have mediaeval grid cities buried in them, though I'd have to
look up which they are.  The only sizeable grid that springs to mind in the UK
is Milton Keynes, a totally modern city (very confusing, and the only town I
know where the signposts have postcodes on them...).  But even that grid breaks
down when it tries to incorporate older towns like Bletchley.


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