Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Black Riders of the Internet III: Not Going Underground

This posting spins off from me doing one of my intermittent searches of the internet for interesting maps. As you will know I do not do this as assiduously as bloggers such as Strange Maps but it does give me pleasure to collect together interesting samples in this kind of scrapbook of a blog that I run. Having seen a postcard from Bath which portrayed that city as if it was the London Underground system I went in search of other locations which might have done this. Back in August 2007 if you look on my 'Atlas of Imaginary Worlds 5' posting you will see a couple of examples, including the underground map being used as a piece of art work, 'The Great Bear' produced in 1992. Since then lots of people have used the structure of the map for highlighting various things and I will show some examples in the posting which follows this one. However, this posting is about what else that I found out. As with many issues I came to this a couple of years late. It is about internet censorship, something else I posted on twice last August with two postings titled 'The Black Riders of the Internet' which detailed how lawyers are rampaging around the internet especially looking for maps of the world of 'The Lord of the Rings' and shutting down websites which feature them. These sites are run by fans not by profit-making organisations; no-one was trying to sell these maps. Yet, for the lawyers they would rather squash the enthusiasm of fans in an incredibly heavy-handed way and no doubt for a fat fee, so actually damaging rather than aiding the Tolkien estate.

I encountered the same thing when I was looking at maps which borrow from the London Underground map. Loads of people do this there are ones, in particular, featuring different music genres. Yet lawyers, Healeys Solicitors, on behalf of Transport For London the body which now runs the London Underground targeted one of these. The man they targeted was Geoff Marshall who just like 'The Great Bear' by Simon Patterson, took the map and simply altered the labels for each of the stations. What was clever, as you can see below, is that he made anagrams of the original station names. This in itself must have taken ages especially to come up with so many coherent names. Geoff was a real fan on the underground system and an advocate of its usage. However, the pressure from the solicitors back in March 2006 led him to turn completely around and now he drives everywhere in London. Many organisations face spoofs of their advertisements, I recently featured a whole slew of them around Absolut vodka's advertising, many of which were pretty offensive. In contrast Geoff was just producing art work based on something he loved. Of course in contemporary UK to go against the desires of the rich even to produce art is now illegal. Corporations seek to control every minute element and by doing so are stamping on our contemporary culture. What would have happened if Andy Warhol had been censored by soup manufacturers or by Chairman Mao or Marilyn Monroe?

Anyway, below is the excellent picture, please copy it and spread it so far around the internet that we can contest the censorship which is going on. There are so many evil things on the internet, including images, that no-one lifts a finger to stop, that it seems criminal that instead they spend so much effort to crush enthusiasts and fans and artists. If you are interested in others visit: or

In fact many featured there are not silly and show things such as stations with wheelchair user access and where the toilets are, which as someone who used to travel 2 hours per day on the underground, I know can be vital.

Anagram Map by Geoff Marshall (2006)

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