Archive for the ‘Maps’ Category

Digital Mapping + Geospatial Humanities

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Digital Mapping + Geospatial Humanities by Fred Gibbs.

From the course description:

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in human consciousness and society caused by our ubiquitous connectedness via the internet and smartphones. These globalizing forces have telescoped space and time to an unprecedented degree, while paradoxically heightening the importance of local places.

The course explores the technologies, tools, and workflows that can help collect, connect, and present online interpretations of the spaces around us. Throughout the week, we’ll discuss the theoretical and practical challenges of deep mapping (producing rich, interactive maps with multiple layers of information). Woven into our discussions will be numerous technical tutorials that will allow us to tell map-based stories about Albuquerque’s fascinating past.

This course combines cartography, geography, GIS, history, sociology, ethnography, computer science, and graphic design. While we cover some of the basics of each of these, the course eschews developing deep expertise in any of these in favor of exploring their intersections with each other, and formulating critical questions that span these normally disconnected disciplines. By the end, you should be able to think more critically about maps, place, and our online experiences with them.

We’ll move from creating simple maps with Google Maps/Earth to creating your own custom, interactive online maps with various open source tools like QGIS, Open Street Map, and D3 that leverage the power of open data from local and national repositories to provide new perspectives on the built environment. We’ll also use various mobile apps for data collection, online exhibit software, (physical and digital) historical archives at the Center for Southwest Research. Along the way we’ll cover the various data formats (KML, XML, GeoJSON, TopoJSON) used by different tools and how to move between them, allowing you to craft the most efficient workflow for your mapping purposes.

Course readings that aren’t freely availabe online (and even some that are) can be accessed via the course Zotero Library. You’ll need to be invited to join the group since we use it to distribute course readings. If you are not familiar with Zotero, here are some instructions.

All of that in a week! This week as a matter of fact.

One of the things I miss about academia are the occasions when you can concentrate on one subject to the exclusion of all else. Of course, being unmarried at that age, unemployed, etc. may have contributed to the ability to focus. ;-)

Just sampled some of the readings and this appears to be a really rocking course!

Invading Almost Everybody

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

A map showing the 22 countries that Great Britain has not invaded

Britian invades

A map that makes the United States look almost benign. ;-)

Invasion of America

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Invasion of America

One of the most compelling combinations of a history timeline and a map I have ever seen!

In a nutshell, the map shows the loss of territory by native Americans from 1776 until present.

This should be shown and assigned as homework in every American history class.

Some people who merit a special shout-out for this work:

The Invasion of America is a project of

Project director: Claudio Saunt, Russell Professor of History at the University of Georgia

Technical director: Sergio Bernardes, Center for Geospatial Research

Special thanks to David Holcomb and Daniel Reeves at ITOS for implementing the map on ArcGIS Server.

The Invasion of America

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The Invasion of America

A dynamic map with a timeline of United States history and its “acquisition” of land from the inhabitants already present.

The continued power of American exceptionalism, the force that drove that conquest, makes the map all the more frightening.

I first saw this in a tweet by Lincoln Mullen.

Map Distortion!

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Mercator: Extreme by Drew Roos.

The link takes you to a display setting the pole to Atlanta, GA (near my present location).

You should search for a location near you for the maximum impact of the display. Intellectually I have known about map distortion but seeing it for your location, that’s something different.

Highly interactive and strongly recommended!

Makes me wonder about visual displays of other map distortions. Not just well known map projections but policy distortions as well.

Take for example a map that sizes countries by the amount of aid for the United States divided by their population.

Are there any map artists in the audience?

I first saw this in a tweet by Lincoln Mullen.

Mapped with a purpose

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Mapped with a purpose by Andrew Janes.

From the post:

A few years ago, a colleague asked me for help in finding a map. What he wanted, he told me, was a fairly up-to-date map that showed Great Britain at ‘a normal scale’.

After laughing briefly at him, and then apologising for my rudeness, I plucked a road atlas from one of the bookshelves in our staff reading room. Fortunately, this seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think that there are two morals to this story:

1. What is obvious to one person is not obvious to another. Like any good researcher, my colleague should have tried to explain what he wanted in a less ambiguous way. Equally, like any good public services archivist, I should have helped him to shape his request into something more sensible.

2. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ map. The features and attributes of any map (including its scale) depend on its purpose. Why was it made and what was it intended to be used for? Two maps of the same place made at roughly the same time, but for different reasons, can look quite unlike one another.

Andrew illustrates his point with three maps of Nottingham made during the early 20th century. Vastly different even to the unpracticed eye.

The maps are quite fascinating but I leave to you to visit Andrew’s post for those.

Andrew then concludes with:

If you want to look for an old map and you think that The National Archives might have what you want, the map pages on our website are your best starting point.

When searching, bear in mind that a map showing the right place at the right date may not suit your needs in other ways. In other words, think about ‘what’ and ‘why’, as well as ‘where’ and ‘when’.

Those are some of the same rules for writing and reading topic maps.

I say “some” because Andrew is presuming a location on a particular sphere, whereas topic maps don’t start with that presumption. ;-)

Interactive Maps with D3.js, Three.js, and Mapbox

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Interactive Maps with D3.js, Three.js, and Mapbox by Steven Hall.

From the post:

Over the past couple of weeks I have been experimenting with creating 2D maps that can be explored in three dimensional space using D3.js and Three.js.  The goal was to produce some highly polished prototypes with multiple choropleth maps that could be easily navigated on a single page.  Additionally, I wanted to make sure to address some of the common tasks that arise when presenting map data such as applying well-formatted titles, legends and elegantly handling mouse-over events. The two examples presented below use D3.js for for generating nested HTML elements that contain the maps, titles and labeling information and use Three.js to position the elements in 3D space using CSS 3D transforms.  Importantly, there is no WebGL used in these examples.  Everything is rendered in the DOM using CSS 3D transforms which, at the time of writing, has much wider browser support than WebGL.

This article is an extension of two of my previous articles on D3.js and Three.js that can be found here and here.   Below, I’ll go into more depth about how the examples are produced and some of the roadblocks I encountered in putting these demos together, but for more background on the general process it may be good to look at the first article in this series: D3.js, Three.js and CSS 3D Transforms.

The maps here are geographical maps but what Steve covers could be easily applied to other types of maps.

The Internet Is Obsessed With Maps…

Monday, May 19th, 2014

The Internet Is Obsessed With Maps — Here’s Why It’s Gone Too Far by Mike Nudelman and Christina Sterbenz.

From the post:

“There’s something about maps that’s really authoritative and hard to question — we’re so used to seeing them …. But the more popular something becomes, the more people try to duplicate it without the expertise,” Fanning explained.

Condensing complex data into an easily and quickly digestible package often leads to oversimplification or, worse, misinformation. That becomes especially problematic when the map is viewed and shared far from its original context.

Of course, the maps in question are all visual but you could easily represent some topic maps as visual maps and capture that same sense of authority.

Have you faced issues of “oversimplification” or “misinformation” from use of a topic map? Any impact from a map being removed from its original context?

BTW, correction to the first map in the post. Tulane isn’t the “most desirable” college in Louisiana. LSU Baton Rouge is the “most desirable” college in Louisiana. ;-)

There Should Be a Checklist for Maps

Friday, May 16th, 2014

There Should Be a Checklist for Maps by Betsy Mason.

From the post:

Earlier this week, Stephanie Evergreen posted this great checklist for data visualizations. She and Ann Emery designed it to help social scientists understand the elements of a successful graph and offer guidance on how to make a graph better.

I’ve seen the list tweeted by data viz experts like Alberto Cairo and had it forwarded it to me by a designer I used to work with. It got me thinking that a list like this for maps would be really useful. We’re beginners at mapmaking here at Map Lab, and we’d love a list like this to check our own maps against, and to help us evaluate maps we come across.

Betsy has located one such guide but is seeking your advice on what should be on the checklist for map?

A checklist for maps, no disrespect intended towards data visualizations, is a very deep question. Maps, useful ones at any rate, reflect their author, purpose, intended audience, social context, technology for making the map, etc.

Suggestions? Comments?

The evolution of Ordnance Survey mapping

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Evolution of Ordnance Survey mapping

From: The evolution of Ordance Survey mapping:

If you’re a lover of old maps, you may be aware of the changes that have taken place on Ordnance Survey maps over the years. Changes to colour, styling, the depiction of roads and vegetation for example. As you can imagine, visitors to our Southampton head office often want to visit our Cartography teams and see the work they’re doing now – and compare this to how things used to be done.

The Cartography team put their heads together and came up with a display to show visitors the past present and future roles of cartography. One aspect of the display was produced by Cartographer Alicja Karpinska, making use of her photography and digital image manipulation skills, to complete an image showing the evolution of Ordnance Survey mapping.

See the post for more details.

Assuming that topic maps recur in particular subject areas, a similar evolution of mapping is a distinct possibility at some point in the future.

Indexers map properties to subjects every day so topic map can’t claim to be the first to do so.

However, topic maps are the first technology that I am aware of that makes that mapping explicit. That a rather important difference and is crucial to supporting an “evolution of mapping” for topic maps at some point in the future.

Judgmental Maps

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Judgmental Maps

Imagine a map of a city with the neighborhood names removed but the interstate highways and a few other geographic features remaining.

Now further imagine that you have annotated that map with new names to represent the neighborhoods and activities in that city.

I tried to pick my favorite but in these sensitive times, someone would be offended by any choice I made.

You can create an submit maps in addition to viewing ones already posted.

I first saw this at Judgmental Maps on Chart Porn.

Digitising Tithe Maps

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Digitising Tithe Maps by Einion Gruffudd.

From the post:

Cynefin is a Welsh word for the area you are familiar with. It is also the name of a project for digitising the Tithe Maps of Wales. This is a considerable challenge, there are over a thousand of them and they are large, some are two by three metres or more. The maps are highly popular with the public, and with television programmes, and it is easy to see why. Not only are the maps very detailed, but they also have attached schedules or apportionment documents which include the names of the people who were paying tithes around the 1840s, and where they were farmers, as most were, more often than not the names of their fields are included.

The Cynefin project will produce digitised images of the maps and the apportionment documents, and much more as well. As there is such a wealth of information in the apportionment documents, they will be transcribed, but for this we are reliant on help from the community. We also plan to link the apportionment entries directly to the field numbers which are on the maps, this work will also involve volunteers. There will soon be a crowd sourcing platform giving the public an opportunity to contribute directly to the project.

Think of these maps as being the equivalents of a modern data tax assessor’s maps for property taxes, sans the need to tithe to support the local church.

Such rich maps offer many opportunities to create links (read associations) between these records and other sources of information from the same time period.


Language is a Map

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Language is a Map by Tim O’Reilly.

From the post:

I’ve twice given an Ignite talk entitled Language is a Map, but I’ve never written up the fundamental concepts underlying that talk. Here I do that.

When I first moved to Sebastopol, before I raised horses, I’d look out at a meadow and I’d see grass. But over time, I learned to distinguish between oats, rye, orchard grass, and alfalfa. Having a language to make distinctions between different types of grass helped me to see what I was looking at.

I first learned this notion, that language is a map that reflects reality, and helps us to see it more deeply – or if wrong, blinds us to it – from George Simon, whom I first met in 1969. Later, George went on to teach workshops at the Esalen Institute, which was to the human potential movement of the 1970s as the Googleplex or Apple’s Infinite Loop is to the Silicon Valley of today. I taught at Esalen with George when I was barely out of high school, and his ideas have deeply influenced my thinking ever since.

If you accept Tim’s premise that “language is a map,” the next question that comes to mind is how faithfully can an information system represent your map?

Your map, not the map of an IT developer or a software vendor but your map?

Does your information system capture the shades and nuances of your map?


Physical Manifestation of a Topic Map

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

I saw a tweet today referencing Cartographies of Time: A Visual History of the Timeline by Maria Popova by The O.C.R. I have posted about it before Cartographies of Time:… but re-reading material can result in different takes on it. Today is an example of that.

Today when I read the post I recognized the potential of the Discus chronologicus (which has no Wikipedia entry), could be the physical manifestation of a topic map. Or at least one with undisclosed reasons for mapping between domains.

discus chronologicus - Christoph Weigel

Granting it does not provide you with the properties of each subject, save possibly a name (you need something to recognize), with each ring representing what Steve Newcomb calls a “universe of discourse,” and the movable arm represents warp holes between those universes of discourse at particular subjects.

This could be a useful prop for marketing topic maps.

First, it introduces the notion of different vocabularies (universes of discourse) in a very concrete way and demonstrates the advantage of being able to move from one to another. (Assuming here you have chosen universes of discourse of interest to the prospect.)

Second, the lack of space means that it is missing the properties that enabled the mapping, a nice analogy to the construction of most information systems. You can assure the prospect that digital topic maps include that information.

Third, unlike this fixed mapping, another analogy to current data systems, more universes of discourse and subjects can be added to a digital topic map. While at the same time, you retain all the previous mappings. “Recycling prior work,” “not paying 2, 3 or more times for mappings,” are just some of the phrases that come to mind.

I am assuming composing the map in Gimp or other graphics program is doable. The printing and assembly would be more problematic. Will be looking around. Suggestions welcome!

Jane Goodall MOOC!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

From Jane Goodall’s roots & shoots:

In Africa, the Jane Goodall Institute’s experts in conservation and science use Participatory Mapping to incorporate local, indigenous knowledge in the creation of conservation and development projects around chimpanzee habitats. At Roots & Shoots, our young people are the experts! You will use the same strategy as the Jane Goodall Institute field professionals to explore your community and identify areas to make a difference with a tool called Community Mapping.

Why Map?

How do you know where to make a difference if you don’t have a strong awareness of where you live? When you map your community you REALLY get to know about the people, animals and environment around you. Mapping is the key to discovering a real community need that leads to the most effective service campaigns. Master your mapping skills and get to know your community on a whole new level!

How to Map

There are several types of mapping tools for you to choose from. Are you tech savvy and love digital maps? Or are you the type that prefers to chart by hand? Regardless of which mapping tool you use (and you can use more than one), what matters is that you get out and take action!

Jane Goodall launched this effort on her 80th birthday.

Check out the course as well as the article that tipped me off about it.

It will be interesting to see how communities are viewed by their members and not urban planners.

Perhaps conventional maps are more imperialistic than they appear at first blush. Ordinary people have lacked to tools to put forth contending views on mapping their communities. Mapping between “conventional” and “community” maps could be contentious.

I first saw this at: Jane Goodall launches online course in digital mapping by Katie Collins.

Norse Live Attack Map

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Norse Live Attack Map

From the post:

Today, we’d also like to announce the availability of a completely new and updated version of the Norse Live Attack Map. When we posted our first map back in late 2012, we did not really think much about it to be honest. Norse CTO Tommy Stiansen created it on a whim one weekend using mostly open source code, and attack maps are not necessarily a new concept. Like a lot of things, it was created out of a need for a quick and easy way for people to visualize the global and live nature of Norse’s threat intelligence platform. While the activity on the map is just a small subset (less than 1%) of the total attack traffic flowing into the Norse platform at any point in time, map visualizations can be a powerful way to communicate time-based geographic data sets.

Over the past year, the reaction by all types of people to the map has been great and we’ve received a lot of requests for enhancements and new features. Like all early stage companies, we’ve had to focus our development efforts and resources. That meant that improvements to the map were often put on the back burner. Having a new and improved map in the Norse booth at RSA 2014 provided a great incentive and target date for the team however, and we showed a preview version at the show. Aside from the completely new visual design, here is a summary of the new features.

Interesting eye candy for a Monday morning!

While the IP origins of attacks are reported, the IP targets of attacks are not.

Possible artifact of when I loaded the attack map but the United States had low numbers for being on the attack. At least until shortly after 10 A.M. East Coast time. Do you think that has anything to do with the start of the workday on the East Coast? ;-)

Live Attack Map (Norse)

BTW, from under the “i” icon on the Norse map:

Norse exposes its threat intelligence via high-performance, machine-readable APIs in a variety of forms. Norse also provides products and solutions that assist organizations in protecting and mitigating cyber attacks.

That must be where the target IPs are located. Maybe they offer a “last month’s data” discount of some sort. Will inquire.

Just a random observation but South American, Africa and Australia are mostly or completely dark. No attacks, no attackers. Artifact of the collection process?

Mapping IPs, route locations, attack vectors, with physical and social infrastructures could be quite interesting.

PS: If you leave the webpage open in a tab and navigate to another page, cached updates are loaded, resulting in a wicked display.

Precision from Disaggregation

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Building Precise Maps with Disser by Brandon Martin-Anderson.

From the post:

Spatially aggregated statistics are pretty great, but what if you want more precision? Here at Conveyal we built a utility to help with that: aggregate-disser. Let me tell you how it works.

Let’s start with a classic aggregated data set – the block-level population counts from the US Census. Here’s a choropleth map of total population for blocks around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The darkest shapes contain about five thousand people.

Brandon combines census data with other data sets to go from 5,000 person census blocks to locating every job and bed in Manhattan into individual buildings.

Very cool!

Not to mention instructive when you encounter group subjects that need to be disaggregated before being combined with other data.

I first saw this in a tweet by The O.C.R.


Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Synthicity Releases 3D Spatial Data Visualization Tool, GeoCanvas by Dean Meyers.

From the post:

Synthicity has released a free public beta version of GeoCanvas, its 3D spatial data visualization tool. The software provides a streamlined toolset for exploring geographic data, lowering the barrier to learning and using geographic information systems.

GeoCanvas is not limited to visualizing parcels in cities. By supporting data formats such as the widely available shapefile for spatial geometry and text files for attribute data, it opens the possibility of rapid 3D spatial data visualization for a wide range of uses and users. The software is expected to be a great addition to the toolkits of students, researchers, and practitioners in fields as diverse as data science, geography, planning, real estate analysis, and market research. A set of video tutorials explaining the basic concepts and a range of examples have been made available to showcase the possibilities.

The public beta version of GeoCanvas is available as a free download from

Well, rats! I haven’t installed a VM with Windows 7/8 or Max OS X 10.8 or later.

Sounds great!

Comments from actual experience?

Open Access Maps at NYPL

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Open Access Maps at NYPL by Matt Knutzen, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Map Division.

From the post:

The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper. First, create an account, then click a map title and go. Here’s a primer and more extended blog post on the warper.

…image omitted…

What’s this all mean?

It means you can have the maps, all of them if you want, for free, in high resolution. We’ve scanned them to enable their use in the broadest possible ways by the largest number of people.

Though not required, if you’d like to credit the New York Public Library, please use the following text “From The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library.” Doing so helps us track what happens when we release collections like this to the public for free under really relaxed and open terms. We believe our collections inspire all kinds of creativity, innovation and discovery, things the NYPL holds very dear.

In case you were unaware of it, librarians as a class have a very subversive agenda.

They want to provide as many people as much access to information as is possible.

People + information is a revolutionary mixture.

USGS Maps!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

USGS Maps (Google Map Gallery)

Wicked cool!

Followed a link from this post:

Maps were made for public consumption, not for safekeeping under lock and key. From the dawn of society, people have used maps to learn what’s around us, where we are and where we can go.

Since 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been dedicated to providing reliable scientific information to better understand the Earth and its ecosystems. Mapping is an integral part of what we do. From the early days of mapping on foot in the field to more modern methods of satellite photography and GPS receivers, our scientists have created over 193,000 maps to understand and document changes to our environment.

Government agencies and NGOs have long used our maps everything from community planning to finding hiking trails. Farmers depend on our digital elevation data to help them produce our food. Historians look to our maps from years past to see how the terrain and built environment have changed over time.

While specific groups use USGS as a resource, we want the public at-large to find and use our maps, as well. The content of our maps—the information they convey about our land and its heritage—belongs to all Americans. Our maps are intended to serve as a public good. The more taxpayers use our maps and the more use they can find in the maps, the better.

We recognize that our expertise lies in mapping, so partnering with Google, which has expertise in Web design and delivery, is a natural fit. Google Maps Gallery helps us organize and showcase our maps in an efficient, mobile-friendly interface that’s easy for anyone to find what they’re looking for. Maps Gallery not only publishes USGS maps in high-quality detail, but makes it easy for anyone to search for and discover new maps.

My favorite line:

Maps were made for public consumption, not for safekeeping under lock and key.

Very true. Equally true for all the research and data that is produced at the behest of the government.

The “Tube” as History of Music

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The history of music shown by the London Underground

I have serious difficulties with the selection of music to be mapped, but that should not diminish your enjoyment of this map if you find it more to your taste.

Great technique if somewhat lacking in content. ;-)

It does illustrate the point that every map is from a point of view, even if it is an incorrect one (IMHO).

I first saw this in a tweet by The O.C.R.

R resources for Hydrologists

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

R resources for Hydrologists by Riccardo Rigon.

From the post:

R is my statistical software of election. I had hard time to convince my Ph.D. students to adopt it, but finally they did, and, as usually happens, many of them became more proficient than me in the field. Now it seems natural to use it for everything, but this was not always the case.

An annotated list of R resources for hydrologists, annotated by Riccardo with comments.

Great for hydrologists but also good for anyone who wants to participate in water planning issues for rural or urban areas.

I first saw this in a tweet by Ben Gillespie.

Introducing Google Maps Gallery…

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Introducing Google Maps Gallery: Unlocking the World’s Maps by Jordan Breckenridge.

From the post:

Governments, nonprofits and businesses have some of the most valuable mapping data in the world, but it’s often locked away and not accessible to the public. With the goal of making this information more readily available to the world, today we’re launching Google Maps Gallery, a new way for organizations to share and publish their maps online via Google Maps Engine.

Google Map Gallery

Maps Gallery works like an interactive, digital atlas where anyone can search for and find rich, compelling maps. Maps included in the Gallery can be viewed in Google Earth and are discoverable through major search engines, making it seamless for citizens and stakeholders to access diverse mapping data, such as locations of municipal construction projects, historic city plans, population statistics, deforestation changes and up-to-date emergency evacuation routes. Organizations using Maps Gallery can communicate critical information, build awareness and inform the public at-large.

A great site as you would expect from Google.

I happened upon US Schools with GreatSchools Ratings. Created by

There has been a rash of 1950’s style legislative efforts this year in the United States, seeking to permit business to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. Recalling the days when stores sported “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” signs.

I remember those signs and how they were used.

With that in mind, scroll around the GreatSchools Rating may and tell me what you think the demographics of non-rated schools look like?

That’s what I thought too.

80 Maps that “Explain” the World

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Max Fisher, writing for the Washington Post, has two posts on maps that “explain” the world. Truly remarkable posts.

40 maps that explain the world, 12 August 2014.

From the August post:

Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. So when we saw a post sweeping the Web titled “40 maps they didn’t teach you in school,” one of which happens to be a WorldViews original, I thought we might be able to contribute our own collection. Some of these are pretty nerdy, but I think they’re no less fascinating and easily understandable. A majority are original to this blog (see our full maps coverage here)*, with others from a variety of sources. I’ve included a link for further reading on close to every one.

* I repaired the link to “our full maps coverage here.” It is broken in the original post.

40 more maps that explain the world, 13 January 2014.

From the January post:

Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August’s 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I’ve searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I’ve included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.

Bear in mind the usual caveats about the underlying data, points of view represented and unrepresented but this is a remarkable collection of maps.

Highly recommended!

BTW, don’t be confused by the Part two: 40 more maps that explain the world link in the original article. The January 2014 article doesn’t say Part two but after comparing the links, I am satisfied that is what was intended, although it is confusing at first glance.

The case for big cities, in 1 map

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The case for big cities, in 1 map by Chris Cillizza.

From the post:

New Yorkers who don’t live in New York City hate the Big Apple. Missourians outside of St. Louis and Kansas City are skeptical about the people (and politicians) who come from the two biggest cities in the state. Politicians from the Chicago area (and inner suburbs) often meet skepticism when campaigning in downstate Illinois. You get the idea. People who don’t live in the big cities tend to resent those who do.

Fair enough. Growing up in semi-rural southeastern Connecticut, I always hated Hartford. (Not really.) But, this map built by Reddit user Alexandr Trubetskoy shows — in stark terms — how much of the country’s economic activity (as measured by the gross domestic product) is focused in a remarkably small number of major cities.

A great map, at least if you live in the greater metro area of any of these cities.

I could 21 red spots, although on the East coast they are so close together some were fused together.

It is also an illustration that a map doesn’t always tell the full story.

Say 21 or more cities produce have of the GDP.

Care to guess how many states are responsible for 50% of the agricultural production in the United States?


Legendary Lands:…

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Legendary Lands: Umberto Eco on the Greatest Maps of Imaginary Places and Why They Appeal to Us by Maria Popova.

From the review:

“Often the object of a desire, when desire is transformed into hope, becomes more real than reality itself.”

Celebrated Italian novelist, philosopher, essayist, literary critic, and list-lover Umberto Eco has had a long fascination with the symbolic and the metaphorical, extending all the way back to his vintage semiotic children’s books. Half a century later, he revisits the mesmerism of the metaphorical and the symbolic in The Book of Legendary Lands (public library) — an illustrated voyage into history’s greatest imaginary places, with all their fanciful inhabitants and odd customs, on scales as large as the mythic continent Atlantis and as small as the fictional location of Sherlock Holmes’s apartment. A dynamic tour guide for the human imagination, Eco sets out to illuminate the central mystery of why such utopias and dystopias appeal to us so powerfully and enduringly, what they reveal about our relationship with reality, and how they bespeak the quintessential human yearning to make sense of the world and find our place in it — after all, maps have always been one of our greatest sensemaking mechanisms for life, which we’ve applied to everything from the cosmos to time to emotional memory.

Eco writes in the introduction:

Legendary lands and places are of various kinds and have only one characteristic in common: whether they depend on ancient legends whose origins are lost in the mists of time or whether they are an effect of a modern invention, they have created flows of belief.

The reality of these illusions is the subject of this book.

Definitely going to the top of my wish list!

I suspect that like Gladwell‘s Tipping Point, Blink, Flop (forthcoming?), it is one thing to see a successful utopia in retrospect but quite another to intentionally create one.

Tolkien did with the Hobbit but for all of its power, it has never, to my knowledge, influenced a United States Congress appropriations bill.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that successful utopias are possible but it is difficult to calculate their success and/or impact.

In any event, I am looking forward to spending serious time with The Book of Legendary Lands.

PS: For the library students among us, the subject classifications given by WorldCat:

  • Geographical myths in literature.
  • Geographical myths in art — Pictorial works.
  • Geographical myths.
  • Art and literature.
  • Geographical myths in art.

I haven’t gotten a copy of the book, yet, but that looks really impoverished to me. If I am looking for materials on reality, belief, social consensus, social fabric, legends, etc. I am going to miss this book in your library?


Linux Kernel Map

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Linux Kernel Map by Antony Peel.

A very good map of the Linux Kernel.

I haven’t tried to reproduce it here because the size reduction would make it useless.

In sufficient resolution, this would make a nice interface to usenet Linux postings.

I may have to find a print shop that can convert this into a folding map version.



Monday, February 17th, 2014

ViziCities: Bringing cities to life using the power of open data and the Web by Robin Hawkes and Peter Smart.

From the webpage:

ViziCities is a 3D city and data visualisation platform, powered by WebGL. Its purpose is to change the way you look at cities and the data contained within them. It is the brainchild of Robin Hawkes and Peter Smartget in touch if you’d like to discuss the project with them in more detail.


Here’s a demo of ViziCities so you can have a play without having to build it for yourself. Cool, ey?

What does it do?

ViziCities aims to combine data visualisation with a 3D representation of a city to provide a better understanding what’s going on. It’s a powerful new way of looking at and understanding urban areas.

Aside from seeing a city in 3D, here are some of the others things you’ll have the power to do:

This is wickedly cool! (Even though in pre-alpha state.)

Governments, industry, etc. have had these capabilities for quite some time.

Now, you too can do line of sight, routing, and integration of other data onto a representation of a cityscape.

Could be quite important in Bangkok, Caracas, Kiev, and other locations with non-responsive governments.

Used carefully, information can become an equalizer.

Other resources:

ViziCities website

ViziCities announcement

Videos of ViziCities experiments

“ViziCities” as a search term shows a little over 1,500 “hits” today. Expect that to expand rapidly.

…Open GIS Mapping Data To The Public

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Esri Allows Federal Agencies To Open GIS Mapping Data To The Public by Alexander Howard.

From the post:

A debate in the technology world that’s been simmering for years, about whether mapping vendor Esri will allow public geographic information systems (GIS) to access government customers’ data, finally has an answer: The mapping software giant will take an unprecedented step, enabling thousands of government customers around the U.S. to make their data on the ArcGIS platform open to the public with a click of a mouse.

“Everyone starting to deploy ArcGIS can now deploy an open data site,” Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s Research and Development Center in D.C., said in an interview. “We’re in a unique position here. Users can just turn it on the day it becomes public.”

Government agencies can use the new feature to turn geospatial information systems data in Esri’s format into migratable, discoverable, and accessible open formats, including CSVs, KML and GeoJSON. Esri will demonstrate the ArcGIS feature in ArcGIS at the Federal Users Conference in Washington, D.C. According to Turner, the new feature will go live in March 2014.

I’m not convinced that GIS data alone is going to make government more transparent but it is a giant step in the right direction.

To have even partial transparency in government, not only would you need GIS data but to have that correlated with property sales and purchases going back decades, along with tracing the legal ownership of property past shell corporations and holding companies, to say nothing of the social, political and professional relationships of those who benefited from various decisions. For a start.

Still, the public may be a better starting place to demand transparency with this type of data.

Build your own [Secure] Google Maps…

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Build your own Google Maps (and more) with GeoServer on OpenShift by Steven Citron-Pousty.

From the post:

Greetings Shifters! Today we are going to continue in our spatial series and bring up Geoserver on OpenShift and connect it to our PostGIS database. By the end of the post you will have your own map tile server OR KML (to show on Google Earth) or remote GIS server.

The team at Geoserver has put together a nice short explanation of the geoserver and then a really detailed list. If you want commercial support, Boundless will give you a commercial release and/or support for all your corporate needs. Today though I am only going to focus on the FOSS bits.

From the GeoServer site:

GeoServer allows you to display your spatial information to the world. Implementing the Web Map Service (WMS) standard, GeoServer can create maps in a variety of output formats. OpenLayers, a free mapping library, is integrated into GeoServer, making map generation quick and easy. GeoServer is built on Geotools, an open source Java GIS toolkit.

There is much more to GeoServer than nicely styled maps, though. GeoServer also conforms to the Web Feature Service (WFS) standard, which permits the actual sharing and editing of the data that is used to generate the maps. Others can incorporate your data into their websites and applications, freeing your data and permitting greater transparency.

I added “[Secure]” to the title, assuming that you will not hand over data to the NSA about yourself or your maps. I can’t say that for everyone that offers mapping services on the WWW.

Depending on how much security you need, certainly develop on OpenShift but I would deploy on shielded and physically secure hardware. Depends on your appetite for risk.