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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"If you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image," explain the Googles, "click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons."
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."
Designer Jug Cerovic proposes a standardized approach to subway mapping, encompassed by 7 simple rules:
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."
"5 days of TED 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.
Its creator, Einar Öberg, has created a ton of other amazing mashups based on similar principles.
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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.
Martin Vargic has produced a gorgeous mashup of XKCD's Map of Online Communities and the classic National Geographic Maps, producing a work of art that is a wonder to behold. It's for sale on Zazzle, as a $37, 34"x22" poster.
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Google's autocomplete, as visualized by @Amazing_maps, discloses the questions that everyone is asking. [via]
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
How does Google Maps account for plate tectonics?
That's the seemingly simple question that led George Musser to unearth some fascinating facts about map-making, history, and the accuracy of modern GPS systems. Turns out, not only does the crust of the Earth, itself, move, but so do the locations of lines of latitude and longitude. Both those things contribute to small errors when your GPS tries to pinpoint exactly where you are.
I love California, but according to the personality test I took, I belong in Montana!
Which US state matches your personality?
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."
Zoom in: Pacific Rim, south-east Asia, the subcontinent, western Europe. [via MeFi]
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.
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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.
It seems hard to find in print form at a reasonable price (Amazon has it for $150). I've embedded an enormous 2MB image below.
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