Remembering maps from memory

Today, I found this awesome post on Uncertain Cartographies (via Flowing Data), and it immediately took me back to something I made when I was in college and studying fine art.

So check out that link first, as this post will make more sense in relation to it, and it’s pretty fascinating anyway.

Then I’ll continue my reminiscence… :)

I used to have a framed print of a map I’d drawn on the wall at home, though when I say “print” it was ~10 bits of A4 photo paper I had carefully cut and glued together. It lasted about 6 years on the wall before the ink faded and the paper peeled and I had to take it down. And I hadn’t thought about this map again until today.

Then after reading this paragraph in particular, I really wanted to find my old map:

“Places where I once lived are deeply etched in my mind. Given a blank sheet of paper, and a little lenience, I can draw a respectable map of Murrays Bay, Mount Eden, Kingsland, Longburn, Summer Hill or Mana from memory. Yet most New Zealand localities are at once familiar and largely unknown to me.”

I went searching for my old map.

Amazingly (to me at least) I managed to find a copy of my original Photoshop artwork file on an old archive CD-R that’s followed me from desk to desk, between many house moves and a couple of countries and that I’ve not had any cause to look at until today.

I’ve posted the map below, but first here’s some context:

This was something I created 10 years ago when I was 18 and I’d been driving for less than a year. I didn’t really use maps for directions, but I drove quite a lot to play gigs with my band, and to visit my girlfriend (now wife) who was studying in Exeter. I knew my way around by which junctions led to where, but I’d never had to ‘map’ these places in a proper geographic context in my mind. This is pre-Google Maps/Earth (hence the AA roadmap styling) and it’s interesting now to think how the ability to browse maps so quickly and fluidly online shapes the way we visualize the abstraction of location in our minds. Even more so when you factor in navigation aids.

To create the map, I sat down with a pen and a large piece of paper and drew the roads leading out around me to all the places I had traveled in recent months. I didn’t allow edits or corrections, and there was no advanced sketching of where places were located. I drew the roads and made the links between places in one go. I did this until I ran out of roads I could meaningfully label. Scanned the whole thing in and traced the lines in Photoshop (no fixes allowed). I recall this “giant” file crashing my computer on a regular basis, though looking at it now, it’s only 50mb.

Anyway, that’s getting a bit nostalgic and I don’t mean it to. What I meant to do was post this map as a response to the thought provoking piece I read today.

A little insight into my earlier years
A little insight into my earlier years

 

 

Something I wrote for Engaging Networks

A few weeks ago I received a marketing email from the Engaging Networks team quoting some stats about the possible improvements to website conversion rates that can be achieved with A/B testing.

I was caught off guard (but pretty chuffed) when I realised I was being quoted my own case study from a presentation I had given a couple of years earlier.

I sent a quick reply to the email and was delighted to find it was sent from a real address with a real person at the other end reading the replies (@Rachel_shares).

This turned into a nice discussion about conversion rate testing, and somehow I agreed to write a guest blog post. Which, with some helpful editing from Rachel has now been posted on the Engaging Networks blog.

I thought I should share the link with all two of my readers on this blog, just in case you’re not also reading the EN blog :)

The real story behind WWF’s fundraising split test success:
http://www.engagingnetworks.net/uk/blog/wwf-split-testing

Bibliofaction short story website needs a new home

Free to a good home
Free to a good home

Would you like to run Bibliofaction.com?

Despite our best efforts, Andrew and I are no longer finding the time to properly look after the Bibliofaction website and community. So it’s time to find someone new to take care of it.

It’s going free to a good home (though it has some costs involved and would benefit from some technical work).

We’d like the website to be run by someone who supports the original goals of the site – to encourage everyone to have a go at writing a short story. It should be a welcoming, inclusive and inspiring place – but we won’t have ongoing involvement in the site, so really it’s your call!

Here are some top-level facts that might be useful to you:

  • 3,500+ published stories
  • ~10,000 visits per month (it was a bit higher when we were actively running competitions etc) – see stats screenshot below.
  • The Bibliobucks virtual currency system doesn’t make us any money (but did a good job encouraging conversations when it was launched)

Beyond that, have a look around the site to see how it works. If you can’t spare the time to look at the site now, you won’t have the time to run the site in the long run. I say this from experience.

Technical bits:

  • The website is a bespoke platform, developed in ASP.NET, in C# with a MSSQL database.
  • It was written for ASP.NET 2.0
  • It’s a 3-tier application (Website, BLC, DALC) so has a pretty solid code structure
  • It was best-of-breed in 2007 – you wouldn’t write it quite like this today, but it won’t cause a new developer too much panic to look at it now.

What’s included:

  1. Transferring ownership of current Easyspace VPS hosting to you (including billing)
  2. All source-code and database files
  3. Google Analytics account including 7+ years of historic stats
  4. The bibliofaction.com domain name – it’s an old domain name now, so good for search engines
  5. Social media accounts (@bibliofaction, Facebook, G+)
  6. Any artwork files I have (logos, PSDs etc)
  7. Transfer of any copyright (logo, brand, code etc)

What’s not included:

  • Tech support. I wish I had time to spend on this, but if I did, we wouldn’t be looking for a new owner. You will need access to the appropriate development skills (whether you are them, know them or buy them).
  • Existing email provider (only because this is tied up with some other services I use). You’ll have to set something new up and point the DNS records.
  • Any form of guarantee, warranty, liability etc ad infinitum

Some immediate opportunities to improve the site:

  1. Integration with social media
  2. Short story apps for tablet and phone
  3. Build on the existing platform, or migrate data to another platform
  4. Anything else you can think of!

I’m interested! What now?

  • Send us your proposal, in any format you like to press [at] bibliofaction.com
    • In an ideal world, we’d like to see someone who can offer ongoing community management, and the technical investment to bring the site up to scratch.
    • The closing date for applications is 31 May 2013
  • Post  questions in the comments below, as we won’t be providing feedback on the proposals or replying to individual questions by email (too little time, sorry).

Thanks and good luck!

Stats for Bibliofaction.com
Stats for Bibliofaction.com