The longest toponym

Is that REAL???  😀  I’d love to visit this place!




A Morning with MongoDB – Milan

Yesterday I’ve attended “A Morning with MongoDB“, the first Italian MongoDB event officialy promoted by 10gen (here is a list of past/upcoming MongoDB events throughout the world).

It’s been a nice way for Italian SW developerss and managers to get acquainted with MongoDB features, as well as to assess its spread potential into Italian IT market. Successful case histories have been shown by Italian companies.

For me, it has been a good time to get in touch with a few of the presenters and to strenghten my MongoDB knowledge, as I’m going to need it to solve problems at work. I was also particularly interested in understanding MongoDB’s capabilities as regards geographic datasets storage and querying and if there is any OGC-compliant map server that can be backed by a document-oriented datastore such as Mongo.

The latter question still remains unanswered to me.

Guide me o thou north star…is my map pointing northwards?

Pierre Descelier's world map (1550)

Pierre Descelier’s world map (1550)

I just came across this page, showing queer examples of upside-down world maps (thanks to its author, btw!).

Just think about it: why is one expected to look at a map having the North direction pointing up? Isn’t it just a convention? Yes, it is: this convention raised after centuries of world explorations by European salesmen, which were using the compass. But it has not been like this since the birth of mankind – just to mention one, the ancient Romans’ maps (like the Tabula Peutingeriana) were meant to have East pointing upside (why? The Roman Empire kept on expanding towards East for decades): here is where the term “Oriens” (which in latin means: “East“) came into spoken language to identify the concept of…orientation! Simply put: one should bear the map at the direction he/she prefers, at convenience.

Mr. Pierre Descelier, a 16th-century French cartographer from Dieppe, Haute Normandie (one of the places I am going to visit in August – but unfortunately I will miss Dieppe by only 40 kms :-/ ), in 1550 hand-drew a map where South was the upper direction…in other words, it was upside-down with respect to canonical maps! I guess this was meant to simplify life to those who had to travel southwards…The map is part of the British Library collection (London).

Here you can find a lovely BBC website explaining the map.

Ancient GIS

This is the Tabula Peutingeriana (here is a high-resolution picture, about 7 MB heavy), one of the most ancient Geographic Information Systems in the world…people had no computer science, no GPS, no compasses… but maps like this just WORKED FINE!

Adriatic sea according to the Tabula Peutingeriana

Adriatic sea according to the Tabula Peutingeriana