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Mapheads and Roadgeeks: The New Cartography

As maps go from paper to digital, a surprising number of amateur cartographers have arisen

3 min read
Mapheads and Roadgeeks: The New Cartography
Illustration: L-Dopa

When google launched its Maps service in early 2005, it didn’t include an application programming interface (API), but that didn’t stop Paul Rademacher from figuring out how to use Maps to display markers indicating available apartments in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was not only the first mashup (information created by combining data from multiple sources) but also the unofficial beginning of neogeography and neocartography.

Neogeography is the practice of combining online maps with data—such as blog posts, websites, and annotations—related to locations on those maps. It’s a subset of neocartography, also called citizen cartography, which is mapmaking as practiced by nonprofessional cartographers like Paul Rademacher and, nowadays, just about everyone else. Services such as Google Maps and OpenStreetMap, as well as the availability of massive location-based data sets, have made neogeographers of many of us. Great chunks of the population have been revealed as mapheads, people who are passionate about maps and cartography.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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