Thursday, October 25, 2012

The inaccurate map

A chap by the name of Mark Noad has designed a new London Tube map. A couple of years ago an official map was released that did not have the River Thames on it. Useless! Public pressure ensured the river was quickly put back as it was important for people who used the river to orient themselves, as I did.

But why did Mr Noad design a new map? For mine, if it ain't broke, it don't need no fixin'. As I was reading a little about the map, it became personally very clear to me why a better map was needed. The piece gave an example of where many go wrong because the reality and the representation do not match, and we did exactly as the example said.

We studied the map as we wanted to go from Trafalgar Square to Paddington. The nearest station was Charing Cross and we would then change to another line one station away at Embankment to get to Paddington, and this worked fine.

Except, as the article says, Embankment is a three minute walk from Charing Cross. So, to get to Paddington in the minimal time, we should have just walked to Embankment and caught a train from there.

We were tourists, so it didn't matter to us, but why didn't we realise Embankment was so close? Because it did not look close on the Tube map, and this is the problem that Mr Noad has attempted to address with his newish map.

This is the traditional Tube map, based on Harry Beck's 1931 design.


And this is Mark Noad's design. A more accurate map it may be, but it makes me feel a little queasy in the stomach. From what I have read, it really is a much better map if it is to be judged by how close to reality you can get with a stylised map. I hope there is soon an Adroid app so I can play with both.


16 comments:

  1. This PROVES that transport maps and city maps are mutually exclusive! The first map is great if you want to get around on the Tube. The 2nd map is more realistic for touring via other means - but is WAAAAAY too busy! I'd just give up & ask a local!!

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    1. Red, have you ever asked directions from an English person? They have their set routes to where they go, and remain unaware of any other area.

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  2. The newest London Underground Mark Noad map looks very much like the PRE-Harry Beck version. So in becoming more accurate and less stylised, they have actually gone backwards.

    See the 1914-1932 Underground maps in http://tinyurl.com/9v8t7u3

    In one way it will be a shame to lose the traditional Harry Beck design. Years ago *sigh* I knew every line and every station off by heart.

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    1. It does Hels. I shouldn't worry. The new map might be better, but people will stick with what they know.

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  3. It's funny how much time one can spend studying maps, and for that matter, time tables, and actually enjoy it.

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    1. Are you a map and time table fiend Rubye? There are three of us in the world, at least.

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  4. Beck's map still looks stylish and presumably is the model for so many others around the world including Sydney's rail system map.

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    1. Victor, it does appeal to my geometric senses.

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  5. The new one definitely works better for me, though I must say Tube staff were incredibly helpful during my two brief visits to Londinium.

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    1. Intersting that you like the new one FC. We only asked for help once, at Heathrow, and she was a grumpy old cow.

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  6. The new map looks like someone took the old map, screwed it up, then tried to smooth it out a bit. It's probably more accurate.

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    1. I laughed out loud River. Nice work.

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  7. That's why you have an A-Z to work out distances.

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    1. Is there an A-Z app Fen?

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    2. that I do not know, however I am about to find out... yes, there sure is! Oh how cool.

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    3. I was going to install it til i realised it cost $7.68. I'll buy it if I get back over there as it seems quite nifty. Can't justify it for reminiscing purposes...

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.