Friday, March 17, 2006

Getting into the Mood...

Often times I am tasked with creating a seemingly endless number of indexed maps, atlas style. Since ESRI has not yet to hold my hand through the post "multiple layouts" of the ArcView 3.X days, I have *.mxd files coming out the ears. I have tried the Map Book developer sample in the past, but lost then when I upgraded to Arc9. I know, I know, I have to understand that it is a change in work flow, not a change in application design. There needs to be a middle ground between endless layouts and endless bookmarks or *.mxd files.

Anyway... The point is, in order to get into the mood of doing this repetitive task, I like to put on some good map making music. What is good map making music? Good question.

To me it is something I’m familiar with, but that is not drilled into my head. It's like hearing new thing and going on a musical adventure, but not having to pay attention to the point of screwing up the scale bar. I think good map making music has a solid tempo, but not too fast or two slow. Speed Metal makes me rush through maps and make mistakes, Dream Pop or Show Gaze makes me fall asleep. I like something mid-tempo with a few punches of drama and energy.

I would discourage politically and socially charged lyrical bands for map making music, especially if you are working with non-environmental maps. Thinking about "the MAN" while confining your mapping art to arbitrary and political boundaries can just send you over the edge. You might even start to tweak boundaries as your way of "bringing the system down from the inside."

The following albums are on the short list of what I consider good map making music. One of these lucky bands will make it into my Foobar 2000 playlist before I take flight into cartographic bliss.

In no particular order:

  • Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
    • good for maps of social interaction
  • Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
    • good for maps of dark corners
  • The Decemberists - Picaresque
    • good for maps of the high seas and treasure maps
  • Iron & Wine - Women King
    • good for low relief maps
  • numbers - Death
    • good for mapping information networks/systems
  • Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
    • well, good for mapping the upper Midwest I suppose.
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Self Tilted
    • good for mapping your inner David Byrne

Well, something there should strike my fancy. If anyone of you have suggestion for dealing with multiple layouts or, more importantly, good map making music, let me know!

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