“Monkey Business” — blast from the past #1

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

3 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    It’s wonderful how much NOAA’s historical chart site has improved ( http://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/ ). I easily downloaded a stack of high resolution local charts, now in easy-to-handle .jpg format. My hope that PC charting programs, or even plotters, would one day be so powerful that they could show you the old view hasn’t happened yet, but you can do it yourself.

  2. Christopher says:

    The Portolan charts you show would have been state and mercantile secrets for most of human history. The impetus not to share these is in the DNA you mentioned.
    The mercantile and physical survival importance of knowledge of ports for trading and offensive/defensive purposes is deeply biological and only slightly culturally nuanced. The Spanish, Portuguese, Genoan, Venetian, Dutch, British, and French policies were virtually identical — For most of human history, being caught with charts, sailing directions, sailing cards of an adversary was a death sentence. Equally, they were among the first things sought out after a ship was captured.
    The charting and geodesy people who did the best job of protecting (and obscurating) this information were the institutional survivors in the their relatively tiny community.
    Today’s M, C & G technological protectionism and obscurantism is a cultural inheritor to this tradition. In this business a level playing field only serves the consumer…
    Competition for the marginal consumer dollar favors vendor lock-in over open standards. With open standards one has to differentiate on price and quality. With vendor lock-in one just has to make it too fiscally painful to change.
    What this business needs is a killer app in the Downes and Mui sense of the word.
    And if I sound a tad irritated it’s because of what I just had to pay to update my high-end digital products that still manage to take me through bridge abutments, docks and across dry land in several spots. Products I am locked into by my choice of radar and chart plotter six years ago when this chart provider was the leader.

  3. Good historical data, thanks. Now we await the REAL next gen… Google Earth moving maps with full visual terrestrial viewing and pinpoint water accuracy. I have copied them and with a bit of copy and pasting and overlay work was able to have a second to real time plotting over a Google Earth map. Can’t wait the for the future…but I guess I will have to!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published.