The paper Becksploitation: The Over-Use of a Cartographic Icon by Kenneth Field and William Cartwright (free pre-print PDF) in The Cartographic Journal describes the Harry Beck’s famous map of the London Underground and what makes it great. It also offers a collection of misuses of the superficial structure, and critiques them. I wish we’d had papers (and titles!) like this in visualization.
The paper is available online for free for the next twelve months, along with a selection of other Editor’s Choice papers (including Jack van Wijk’s Myriahedral Projections paper – watch the video if you haven’t seen it).
Among the many interesting tidbits in the paper is this clever image by Jamie Quinn. The subway map to end all subway maps (other than for subways).