A weirdly fascinating single-serve site: How many places are named Pittsburgh? (Spoiler: three!)
I discovered the Wendover Productions website last year when they posted a great video explaining why trains suck in America. Their latest video is an animated, fun-fact-filled tour through all 50 states in the US. One thing I learned is that a part of Canada is farther south than California. Read the rest
Let’s Split! causes me no end of joy and pain. It is my favorite Nietzsche quote come to life. (“Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule.”) It is also a 636-page atlas of separatism, national identity, fringe geopolitical movements, and a baleful cry from oppressed minority populations.
The book is put together with the obsessive care of an eccentric Victorian explorer documenting each step of his journey through uncharted lands, never stopping to discern between the observed real and the observed surreal. But Roth is no Victorian. He’s an anthropologist who’s worked with indigenous peoples in Canada and Alaska for governmental recognition and rights. Let’s Split! began life in 2011 as a blog that Roth maintains titled Springtime of Nations. (Full disclosure: by some trick in the time/space continuum, author Roth lives just a few miles from me and we have friends in common. I found this out after I discovered his blog and book.)
Conceptually, the idea of a nation-state is relatively new in the spectrum of development of human societies. People were once few on the earth and tended toward the homogeneity of tribal affiliation. As populations grew, coalitions, hegemony, and politics took shape both psychologically and politically.
Organized by continent, Let’s Split! leaves no territory behind. (Though Roth rightfully excludes "cybernations" and the giggling masses of "micronations" invented by bored teenagers declaring their basement lairs sovereign territory no longer oppressed by the evil overlords, Mom & Dad.) Included with each entry are pictures of the flags, potential population, geographic size, and finally, its likelihood for autonomy. Read the rest
The Transport for London tube map, building on Harry Beck's pioneering work in 1931, is rightly hailed as a masterpiece of simplification and clarity in data visualisation. Read the rest
The Cape Kiwanda sandstone pedestal, a feature of the Oregon coastline known to locals as the duckbill, was "toppled intentionally" by tourists. Video captured at a distance by visitor David Kalas of Hillsboro shows a group of people heaving and pushing the rock until it falls to the ground and collapses: "Got it!" one shouts. Read the rest
The crowdsourced database that was use to seed locations to catch Pokemon in Pokemon Go came from early augmented reality games that were played by overwhelmingly affluent (and thus, disproportionately white) people, who, in an increasingly racially segregated America, are less and less likely to venture into black neighborhoods, meaning that fewer Pokemon-catching landmarks have been tagged there. Read the rest
For more than a decade, BB pal Eames Demetrios (grandson of Charles and Ray Eames) has developed Kcymaerxthaere, a fantastically strange collection of parallel universe stories physically tied to real world sites that link the alternate reality with our own. The actual installations are at 121 sites in 25 countries so far. "It’s like a novel with every page in a different place," Eames says. Now, he and his collaborators are creating a limited edition book compiling the stories of the physical markers and historic sites of Kcymaerxthaere. Eames has launched an Indiegogo campaign to translate the stories into myriad languages and distribute those translations to libraries and schools in the communities those host Kcymaerxthaere installations!
Kcymaerxthaere: The Story So Far (Indiegogo)
Chinese law makes independent mapmaking a crime (you may not document "the shapes, sizes, space positions, attributes, etc. of man-made surface installations") and requires tech companies to randomly vary the locations of all landmarks by 100-500m. Read the rest
If you've ever locked yourself out of your home and googled for a locksmith, you've seen that it's virtually impossible to reach a real local locksmith. Read the rest
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a village on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales, UK. Nice work, Liam Dutton of Channel 4. Read the rest
The most common way of representing Africa on maps and globes dramatically understates the size of the continent. Read the rest
They've 700,000 miles, but mostly the same few thousand miles, over and over again -- because the cars only work if every single light, piece of street furniture, and other detail is mapped and verified by armies of human and computer analysts, and when anything changes, the mapping needs to be re-created. Read the rest