Time Travel Explorer Blog

Eddies in the Space-Time Continuum

by Bill Visick 16. November 2011 08:41

I'm sorry to report that the Time Travel Explorer team has been trapped by this phenomenon, although unlike Arthur Dent we do at least know who Eddy is. One side-effect of the temporal turbulence is that while we think we've been working hard, it might easily appear that this blog has been untouched for months.

Over the summer a straightforward exercise to streamline the app and enhance the time travel engine, as well as to scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the blog, has turned into an extended period of silence. I'm pleased to say that is now behind us and all systems are go.

We have been able to introduce a couple of major enhancements to the app which you will have discovered if you've installed the recent versions. Firstly, the size of the initial download has been drastically reduced from over 300M to about 10M. This makes installing it much easier, to say nothing of testing new versions, while all the map, image and audio data remains available to be streamed when needed or downloaded in bulk. We hope this makes life easier for everyone.

More excitingly we've been able to tweak the time-travel engine so that it is now possible to slide between any combination of maps, not just the two that were previously available. Sounds simple, wasn't! It's switched on as usual in Settings and you set your time destination by dragging the slider at the bottom of the screen. Then sit back and enjoy as the maps slide from one to the next. The stop button (bottom right) halts time travel at any point and you can move backwards or forwards:

By judiciously enabling or disabling the maps that are displayed in Map Manager, it's possible to time travel between any combination of maps. If you zoom right out, this is a really good way of seeing how London has grown and the centre has shifted westeards from the City. Here it is in 1682 (more on this map to come):

And now...

That's it, really. We think it's pretty cool. More to come, provided the Vogons don't get us.

Maps: they are what you make them

by Peter Watts 15. September 2010 10:47

One of the first things you learn when you start to take a more than passing interest in cartography is that maps are about much more than mere geography. Every mapmaker has to make a decision about what to include and what to leave out, making each map a subjective view of what the cartographer considers important.


For an idea of how this works, think about drawing a map of your home area (and see Londonist's gallery for examples). Do you show pubs? Cinemas? Museums? Churches? Schools? Do private roads get included? What about those go-nowhere roads that are in housing estates? Where do you choose to place your boundary? Do you show bus stops? Shops? Restaurants and takeaways? Alleyways? Public toilets? Every decision you make reflects your own interests, what you consider to be important and the information you feel needs to be passed on. It isn’t any different for the pros (or the people who financially backed them).


Take John Rocque, for instance. His elegant map of 1746 (available on the TTX app) was made to reflect ‘the view of his middle and upper class contemporaries – that their London was the new Rome... In such maps, there was no room for the poor, the danger, sickness and grime that is the focus of much contemporary writing about London.’ (‘Mapping London’ by Simon Foxall.)


Even Edward Stanford’s map of 1862 (also available on the TTX app), which is considered to be one of the more politically neutral maps available as it does not exaggerate particular features or types of information, makes a pretty bold statement by ignoring the entire Isle of Dogs, deeming it not central enough for his tastes despite the importance of the docks at the time to the London economy. Even today, generations of South Londoners are treated the same way by cartographers who insist that London stops at the Thames.