THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Maps and views blog

16 posts categorized "Crowdsourcing"

29 July 2014

Tricky maps

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We are in the last quarter of maps of this BL Georeferencer release.  I always like to review at this stage what has been accomplished and what remains. The maps left can be the most difficult ones, so those who like a challenge and want to undertake some tricky online research, this is your time!

Some of my picks for greatest challenges:

Hand drawn! Transliterated from a non-Roman alphabet! On its side!

Drawn map of China explorations
This map is from W.J. Reid's account of his exploration of western China and eastern Tibet, Through Unexplored Asia. It depicts a mountainous and relatively remote area in central China. There are not a great number of placenames for this area in online maps, and even these may not be spelled the same as the handwritten map labels. Thanks to the volunteer ("digger"), who solved it by using the lat-long references on the map.

I should add that no-one likes a map on its side - one participant said "Help me please, before I need to visit my chiropractor"! Unfortunately, because these maps were semi-automatically extracted from the texts and posted online, this is not an option for now.

Early mapping! Medieval script! Book in Hungarian!

Flickr - Hungarian medievalThis map is a reproduction of a medieval map within an 1895 book in Hungarian, A magyar nemzet tortenete. 

Unless the map is already familiar to them, the participant will need to read the Hungarian text and decipher the map's medieval handwriting to place it - not a straightforward demand. (This one is still available, so Hungarian-speaking medievalist georeferencers, come forward!)

For every difficult map, however, there may be numerous more familiar ones.

Flickr - Essex coast
This map of Essex is one of 46 from the 1813 Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom.

If you've a talent for geography and curiosity about historic places and spaces, your input to BL Georeferencer will be valuable indeed. There are 762 maps remaining, waiting to be placed! 

 

14 July 2014

Maps in 19th-century books - what has been georeferenced

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We are pleased with the amazing progress georeferencing the maps released last week in BL Georeferencer. In just five days, 30 percent - nearly 1,000 - of the maps were placed. 

This set of mainly 19th-century maps from books is a fine representation of publishing activity and reader interests at the time. The publishing industry had grown and diversified to what we recognise today, and popular topics included: travel; geography textbooks and school atlases; histories; and contemporary exploration and military accounts. The maps are familiar, but eminently of their time.

Flickr - South Africa(The Competitive Geography Fourth ed. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1874.  British Library Shelfmark HMNTS 10005.bb.3. Download pdf of atlas online)

A surge of school atlases were published in Britain during the 1800s to educate the young, and it is no surprise that the British Empire figures largely. The above detail of "Sketch map of South Africa" is from page 419 of The Competitive Geography. The British Territories are named in the text as Cape Colony, Griqaaland West, Natal, and the Transvaal. Note “New Scotland”.

Contemporary accounts of military actions and histories, which usually featured maps and diagrams of troop movements and positions, also feature.   

Manassas battlefield - blog

From the uniquely-titled History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the final restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877.

The overlay above indicates the locations of infantry and artillery during the first battle of Manassas (1861), a determinate early conflict in the US Civil War. The area is now a National Park, and those boundaries, along with the crossroads, make the present-day area appear releatively unchanged.

Flickr - Bilbao detail

Part of the Carlist Wars in the Basque region of Spain, this “Plan of the town and vicinity of Bilbao, showing the positions occupied by the besiegers, during the siege of Oct 23rd – Dec 25th 1836" also derives from a published personal account, Six Years in Biscay: comprising a personal narrative of the sieges of Bilbao in June 1835... during the years 1830 to 1837.

While the city and course of the river have changed hugely since the 1830s, the contours indicating mountains on the original map match to the shaded ridge visible in the Google Terrain base layer of BL Georeferencer below, making the location apparent.

Flickr-Blilbao terrain

To explore what maps from 19th-century books are available to georeference, and search for yourself, visit the British Library maps subset in Flickr. There are links to georeference from below each image included in this release. See what you can discover and place!

To see the maps already placed, go to BL Georeferencer.

09 July 2014

New lot of maps for georeferencing - release TODAY

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Help us identify the locations of historic maps by participating in the largest release yet of BL Georeferencer. Over 3,100 maps, previously hidden within the pages of 17th, 18th, and 19th century books, are now available to georeference and overlay on modern mapping at

http://www.bl.uk/maps/

This set consists of the maps that the Library released to the public domain via Flickr.  All the illustrations in the books scanned by Microsoft - which included the themes of travel and geography - were extracted from the texts; once the images were posted to Flickr, the public assigned tags. Over the months that the tagging went on, we were thrilled to find a huge amount were maps, but are left with the question: "where in the world...?"

Screenshot for instructions

We have alot of work to do. Please help us identify the locations of these maps by participating in this release of BL Georeferencer!

21 February 2014

Historic maps in the public domain

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Maps contained within the pages of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century books are still being unearthed. Of the one million images that the Library extracted from scanned volumes and explosed on Flickr Commons, over 2,100 have already been tagged as maps by the public!

As these map images are in the public domain and so open for reuse, we've seen new interpretations, further exposure, and interesting geospatial applications. For instance, John Leighton's 1895 diagrammatic map of London Indexed in Two-Mile Hexagons has been brought up to date and into space in this dynamic visualisation created for International Open Data Day tomorrow in Osaka City, Japan. Though I've been warned that this is a work-in-progress, it is impressive already; the newly geo-aware index is interactively linked to its 18 component hexagonal maps, with the current location in OpenStreetMap appearing alongside. Ollie described the purpose of Leighton's mapping scheme in his Mapping London blog post in December. The results of making these maps available just keep getting better.

 Hexagon map images - web

Work-in-progress at http://museum-media.jp/london/
Hexagon map images - web2

Leighton's index map, the 18 component maps, and other images from the book

Here at the Library we're anticipating opening up the 2,100+ maps for public georeferencing. Once all of the one million images get tagged with keywords in Flickr, those identified as maps will be consolidated and released via BL Georeferencer. Please lend a hand by finding and tagging any maps among the remaining images! 

30 October 2012

Difficult maps

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Sometimes the map that's leftover, that no else wants to decipher, is the most valuable to georeference.

In my periodic checks on BL Georeferencer http://www.bl.uk/maps/, I've noticed that the more opaque, difficult to discern maps are avoided - and this is entirely understandable! Associating the places that appear on historic maps with their current geographic location on the ground can be straightforward, but not always. Here are a few of those more demanding:

Banbury castle4
This 16th c. drawing required reading the title and description to get any idea of where or what it was - there is no text on the map!

Shropshire
This ca 1600 map of Shopshire is nicely labelled, but requires some interpretation.  Shewsbury is labelled "Salop", an historical name for the city, and scale varies over the map: the loop of the river on which the city is located is of an inordinately large scale, but this emphasises its prime geographic feature making it firmly recognisable.

Thanks to Steven Feldman for taking on these two.

Below are a couple I am less certain will make it...

Kensington
Numerous maps from the Kensington Turnpike Trust are available, and all seem to be difficult to move. This, sheet 6, has even less information than most!

 
Estate map
No one has dared attempt this estate map of "the manors of Mincingbury, Abbotsbury and Hoares, in Barley, Hertfordshire." If anyone can figure where this might be located, please help!

What makes the difficult maps especially valuable to georeference is their very obscurity; because most folks will not know what they represent, they are made less useful. Once their location is known, they are able to be found and used as maps. 

My thanks and admiration go out those participants in the BL Georeferncer project that accept the challenging maps!

26 October 2012

Chance to georeference maps online!

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It was only this morning that a new set of 700 maps was opened to the public for georeferencing, but this afternoon I am overwhelmed at the interest we've received. Participating individuals examined the scanned maps closely - many of which were not easy to decipher, being of an earlier and more "characterful" sort - and, using an online gazetteer and map, found and assigned their locations. Amazing.

There is plenty left to do. Please give it a try!

http://www.bl.uk/maps/

Screenshot for instructions
Once a map has been georeferenced with this tool, it may be viewed overlaid on the landscape, and each participant is credited for the number of points they submit.  

But it is not all about immediate gratification and competition! Georeferencing these maps extends their usability and findability, and allows visualisation in new ways using popular geospatial tools. The British Library has tremendous collections of historic maps that, without georeferencing, lack visibility via digital technologies, so we decided to crowd-source the activity. All the data created from this effort will be used for enhanced searching; the results of our initial pilot (thanks to those volunteers) have already been applied in Old Maps Online (http://oldmapsonline.org) and we have plans for our own uses.

27 February 2012

Success in "placing" historic maps

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The crowdsourcing effort described in my last post was, I am happy to say, complete in less than one week. Many thanks to all that participated! Maurice Nicholson of Bedford submitted the most maps, and he will be in for a visit to the British Library in a couple of weeks.

Below is a visualisation of the maps completed (before any error-checking!)

Envelopes

All of the maps in the project are still open for editing. Adding more points - spread across the entire map - will improve the accuracy of the data. From here, simply click on the red marker representing the map you wish to edit to enter the Georeferencer tool. If you have local knowledge of an area, we'd appreciate you reviewing what's there to ensure the best fit and minimise errors.   

Because of the quick work, the newly-georeferenced maps were integrated into the JISC-funded Old Maps Online, in which The British Library is partnering, in time for its launch. More on that soon...

Get in touch via georeferencer@bl.uk if you wish to be contacted when the next batch of maps is ready for georeferencing.

14 February 2012

Georeferencing maps online - will it work?

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We're asking the online public to undertake a task beyond our own means: to georeference some of our treasures of British mapping. http://maps.bl.uk

The maps included represent a very small sample, to be sure. But the the Ordnance Survey Drawings are some of the most enquired-after maps we have, being unique manuscript documents that portray the lanscape of England and Wales before the onslaught of industrialisation made its mark.

  GE - Exeter4
This is a detail of OSD 40, pt. 3. In 1801, Exeter was a small and compact town!

The other collection we've included in this effort is a selection of the Crace Collection of Maps of London. I've found these maps to be more difficult to georeference, and am eager to see how others fare with them.

The project web page is http://maps.bl.uk - there is a short video there and detailed instructions. Access is also available from within the map pages in the Online Gallery. Please try this new tool out, as it will be a great help towards improving access to and visibility of these collections!