Recently I’ve been getting back into digital cartography. I’ve been helping to develop resources for minority language communities and trying to piece together history based on not only oral histories but linguistic information as well. To do this we need to map a bunch of historical data which can be found across about a dozen different old paper maps, but which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere in a single location.

With that I’ve also been helping to get others involved in projects like OpenStreetMap, as Google Maps (while otherwise great) doesn’t have much (anything) about a lot of the locations of towns and villages throughout rural China where people are coming from.

All that to say that I’ve been getting back into the mapping aspect of things. At one point, we were using this map:

That was the appearance of the map used for this site, and one that I was really pretty happy with. The problem with it and the reason it got taken down basically came down to bandwidth. That, and to get it with the kind of resolution for the level of detail we wanted, it just wasn’t feasible. Or rather, it was but barely, and we felt things were going to improve so we put it on the back burner and focused on other things.

The hope was that MapBox was going to continue development of TileMill which is what I’d used to make it, and that with that continued development we’d have more options and more flexibility. That didn’t happen. Instead, TileMill was discontinued and MabBox instead pushed MapBox Studio, which is nice, but doesn’t let you host your own data. Screw that. We don’t have the money to pay their fees to do what we’d want to do.

While we were waiting for things to happen that never happened, we lost track of the map and kinda just left it at the OpenStreetMap default tileset, which I hate. It’s super ugly and not easy to see features in a lot of places.

However, I’ve been thinking, since I’m already spending the time working on custom tilesets for other projects, it wouldn’t really be much trouble to kick one back out for Phonemica. Maybe even getting back to that particular design.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen. But it might. I’d like it to. So now it’s just seeing if I can get the time together to get it done with everything else that’s going on around here.

Man I miss that map.