A Better Map was founded in the wilds of Alpena, Michigan, during the summer of 2014 ("summer" is that one nice month when you can wear shorts in northern Michigan). It is the lovechild of a decade of GIS experience and a passion for all things web, or the collision between a GIS bus and a web design truck, or... you get the picture. ABM's mission is to integrate the usefulness and beauty of maps with the power and modernness of the internet.
Is "staff" plural? Not anymore. A Better Map is owned and operated by Jason Lampel, who is also the lead designer, developer, secretary, chef, and janitor. Only-child: plays well with others, works alone.
Jason in Numbers
10Years of GIS
I got the GIS ball rolling straight out of college in 2004 after I was accepted for a GIS internship in Billings, Montana via the Chicago Botanic Garden. Go west, young man!
49U.S. States Visited
I saw most U.S. states before I was 5 while my parents drove a truck around the country, and all but one of the remaining states since then. Damn you, Hawaii!
I have worked in one capacity or other with U.S. government entities such as the BLM, USFS, FHWA, USFWS, and DoD. Selfish confession: I did it for the acronyms FWIW BTW FYI.
1Passion for Maps
I learned to read maps before I learned to read, won my 8th grade Geography Bee, and chose my college geography major during orientation. Yes, maps and I are BFFs.
My career originally focused on GIS and GPS. You can read about my sweet mapping skills on my LinkedIn profile or a more web-focused resume here. As a mini-departure from the GIS world, however, I have gradually been teaching myself the languages of the web:
- HTML5The magical cross-platform solution that will bring the web into universal conformity! Or just a cool semantic update to regular HTML with bonuses like geolocation.
- PHPFor those times when I get brave enough to edit WordPress themes on my own. Also nice for serving map tiles from cool applications like TileMill.
- SVGNot sure it counts as a language since it's basically just XML, but it's become such an excellent way to display vector graphics that I don't think I could live without it.
- Sass/ScssSpeaking of things I couldn't live without, Sass is just amazing. I went to edit some regular CSS the other day and got sad when I couldn't set a color using a variable. :(
This could turn into a really long section and it might be shorter to list the things that don't interest me, so I'll keep it brief:
- Technology: probably goes without saying, but I absolutely love all things tech. The nerdery behind the web, the newest iPhone features, the handiest apps- they make my nerd world go around.
- Running: I don't want to be one of those guys who shouts from their pedastal about the benefits of running, but I am. The freedom, the feeling, the fun. The alliterations.
- Hiking: you might assume that with all my nerd time, I might be indoorsy, but you'd be wrong- after so much computing, there comes a time when I simply HAVE to get out in the woods.
- Photography: if I had to choose a pursuit other than web maps, it would undoubtedly be photography. I have a handful of pics on Instagram, but usually shoot with my fancypants Nikon D90.
- Travel: I tend to see the world as a checklist. So far I am only about 20 countries deep into said checklist, but I love the minimalist style of backpacking and Couchsurfing.
- Conservation: In sci-fi shows, people are always looking for other planets after they ruin Earth, but I'd prefer to just take care of it. Plus, space travel is just too expensive, amiright? Besides, Earth is where I keep all my stuff. Oh, and if you forget to bring your reusable bag to the grocery store, I will remind you.