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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.
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Thinking of moving and wondering whether your new state's chief executive is a climate-denier?
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This is kind of neat. From the Official Google Blog: "Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world."
1. The city center sits at the center (because, duh).
2. The center is a basic shape, like a circle or square (for visual simplicity).
3. The center is zoomed in (because that area is always congested with lines).
4. All lines must run vertical, horizontal, or at 45-degree angles (again, for visual simplicity).
5. Their angles should be smooth (to feel more familiar, city to city).
6. Their colors and connection iconography are standardized (duh again).
7. All text must be listed in local and Latin lettering (for the tourists, aka all of us).
The subtext to subway remapping projects is often "London basically got this right 80 years ago, deal with it."— so his version of The Underground, above, is interesting food for thought.
My ultracreative friend Lucy Farey-Jones attended the recent TED conference in Vancouver and left delightfully overwhelmed. The only way she could make sense of what she learned was by mapping it on a single beautiful page.
"Upon my re-entry to the real world, friends, clients and folks at my firm say: ‘How was TED?’ And there is a big pause from me as my brain tries and fails to sum it up," Lucy says. "It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s like being asked ‘How is food?’ or ‘Puberty — how was it?’ Which is where this idea came in. I thought a way to answer this daunting question would be to make a graphic which tries to capture how TED makes me feel. I gave myself the challenge to capture 5 days in one page."
Urban Jungle Street View is a Google Street View mashup that pulls out the 3D information latent in the Streetview database and uses it to map lush, ecotopian foliage over the surfaces of the buildings and street furniture. You can put your own address in and see your home covered in climbing jungles and explore from there, or use great architectural landmarks as your starting point. Shown here: the Flatiron building in midtown Manhattan, where my publishers are located.
Via Public Domain Review: "The Open Country of Woman’s Heart, Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein” (1830s), by D.W. Kellog.
In the Guardian, Serge Wroclawski makes the case for Openstreetmap, a free/open map tool maintained by a volunteer community. Wroclawski argues that allowing companies to own maps allows them to own places: to determine which features of our neighbourhoods are worthy of inclusion, to determine which parts of our cities should and shouldn't be considered in route planning, and to monitor our decisions about where we travel and what we do when we get there. It's a dangerous proposition, and Openstreetmap is a viable, and often superior, alternative (see, for example, the map above of the neighbourhood around my office):
The second concern is about location. Who defines where a neighbourhood is, or whether or not you should go? This issue was brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) when a map provider was providing routing (driving/biking/walking instructions) and used what it determined to be "safe" or "dangerous" neighbourhoods as part of its algorithm. This raises the question of who determines what makes a neighbourhood "safe" or not – or whether safe is merely a codeword for something more sinister.
Right now, Flickr collects neighbourhood information based on photographs which it exposes through an API. It uses this information to suggest tags for your photograph. But it would be possible to use neighbourhood boundaries in a more subtle way in order to affect anything from traffic patterns to real estate prices, because when a map provider becomes large enough, it becomes the source of "truth".
Lastly, these map providers have an incentive to collect information about you in ways that you may not agree with. Both Google and Apple collect your location information when you use their services. They can use this information to improve their map accuracy, but Google has already announced that is going to use this information to track the correlation between searches and where you go. With more than 500 million Android phones in use, this is an enormous amount of information collected on the individual level about people's habits, whether they're taking a casual stroll, commuting to work, going to their doctor, or maybe attending a protest.
Why the world needs OpenStreetMap [Serge Wroclawski/Guardian]
My dialect — the sound, vocabulary, and grammatical structure of the way I speak English — is most similar to the dialect spoken by people in Topeka, Kansas.Read the rest
I love California, but according to the personality test I took, I belong in Montana!
Here is our world divided equally into territories of about 10m people, with existing boundaries taken into account.
"The logic of the map does not entirely discount existing ethnic or national boundaries, but neither is it beholden to them. The particular political rationale behind these divisions is not addressed - whether these are independent nation-states or provinces of a world government is left to the imagine of the viewer. The map is rather meant to provide a visual representative of the radically unequal distribution of the world’s population."
Joshua Katz, at NC State University's Department of Statistics, compiled a series of simple, striking maps that visualize the words Americans use—and where they use them. The data was compiled from a survey conducted by Bert Vaux at the University of Cambridge. Below are just a few to whet your appetite for the full set of 122. Read the rest
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John B. Sparks' 1931 Histomap charted 4,000 years of human civilization with beautiful, reductive clarity. Here's John Brownlee, at Fast Company:
From a modern perspective, Sparks’ Histomap will raise a few eyebrows. For one, it subscribes to an outdated (but, at the time, quite in vogue) idea about how different cultures throughout history could be grouped into various "peoples." The chart also underestimates or omits certain cultures that historians at the time didn’t truly appreciate the importance of. The chart is also more Eurocentric than it would be if it were created today, with little space devoted to African civilizations or even American civilizations before Europeans settled the New World in the 15th century.
New York has the worst subway map in the world. Instead of using London Underground-inspired abstract maps like a normal metropolis, the locals prefer a more geographically-faithful "spaghetti" rendering, thereby making wayfinding a pain for tourists. But it's not as if improvements haven't been attempted: New York's peculiar layout, and the density of its downtown lines, tend to make minimalist maps confusing in other ways. Mapmaker Max Roberts, however, has created this incredible "circular map", which uses a Tube-like style but with the 90- and 45-degree angles ditched in favor of radial lines emanating from the Upper Bay.
P.S. Roberts tried the same thing with the London map, but to my eye it only introduces unnecessary decompression to the original's optimized snarl.
Sound it Out # 49: Maps - “A.M.A” (free MP3)
James Chapman makes music under the name Maps in his basement in Northampton, England. And while he appears to be something of a loner as a musician, the songs on the new Maps record Vicissitude have a welcoming sweetness that feels like a fortuitous amalgamation of many talented minds.
“A.M.A.” is the first single from the new record, and it’s a keeper. Chapman’s whispery vocals combine with a sparse and relentless beat that is simultaneously cheerful and foreboding.
Download “A.M.A” for free below!
Vince Miklos collects GIFs of Empires, from the Roman to Soviet. [io9]
Jim sez, "My sister and I helped my mom start cleaning out her basement yesterday, and this 1978 Tony Graham Graphics 'United States of New York' poster was one of the things we found. As a little kid living in Brooklyn, this definitely goofed up my ideas about geography. My parents didn't want to keep it, so I got to snag it. I need to re-frame it, but then it's going up on the wall, since I definitely remember it from when I was a kid. So I wanted to share a very very big copy of it for any New Yorkers out there that may be interested. Sorry for the blurry bits, there's only so much resolution you can squeeze out of your cell phone."
The supremely creative design/data experimentalists at Stamen launched Map Stack, a fascinating and super-simple tool to design your own maps and cartographical mash-ups:
You can use it to combine custom cartography, colors, and satellite images into custom, easily modified maps.Map Stack by Stamen
We provide access to different parts of the map stack, like backgrounds, roads, labels, and satellite imagery. These can be modified using straightforward controls to change things like color, opacity, and brightness. So within a few minutes you can have a map of anywhere in the world with dark green parks and blue buildings. You can get very precise with image overlays and layer effects, using layers as cut-out masks for other layers. Or just make a regular-looking map in the colors you want.
[Click to enlarge]. Mikeal is making an incredibly labor-intensive scale model of the Game of Thrones Westeros map, and you can watch him build it at his tumblr: myownprivatewesteros.tumblr.com. 3D-printed castle models, walls of putty, hand-painted rivers and hills. This guy is serious.
(Thanks, Tom Osborn)
Elisabeth Lecourt recycles old maps and turns them into beautiful dresses and shirts. I don't imagine they're wearable, but they'd look lovely on the wall nevertheless.
Update: An idea so nice, I blogged it twice! Here's the original from 2008.
A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers is a beautiful art-book of spectacular illustrated maps:
From the publisher's site (where you'll find lots more images):
Drawing a map means understanding our world a bit better. For centuries, we have used the tools of cartography to represent both our immediate surroundings and the world at large—and to convey them to others. On the one hand, maps are used to illustrate areal relationships, including distances, dimensions, and topographies. On the other, maps can also serve as projection screens for a variety of display formats, such as illustration, data visualization, and visual storytelling. In our age of satellite navigation systems and Google Maps, personal interpretations of the world around us are becoming more relevant. Publications, the tourism industry, and other commercial parties are using these contemporary, personal maps to showcase specific regions, to characterize local scenes, to generate moods, and to tell stories beyond sheer navigation. A new generation of designers, illustrators, and mapmakers are currently discovering their passion for various forms of illustrative cartography. A Map of the World is a compelling collection of their work—from accurate and surprisingly detailed representations to personal, naïve, and modernistic interpretations. The featured projects from around the world range from maps and atlases inspired by classic forms to cartographic experiments and editorial illustrations.
Google Maps has added notorious, secretive North Korean prison camps to its maps of the country. The data is gleaned from user contributions, including a first-person account of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who escaped from Camp 14, a death camp where he was born and raised.
Called Map Maker, Google’s information for the country’s layout comes primarily from visitors and from former citizens who defected, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The mapping idea stemmed in part from a 28-year-old South Korean who tried to use Google maps on a trip to Laos four years ago, but found it unhelpful, at best. He ultimately helped devise the Google map application for North Korea.
“I thought if I could fill in information on North Korea, it might be useful in an emergency or tragedy if Google can provide a map for aid agencies,” the South Korean told the Wall Street Journal.