Our hypertalented data viz friends at Stamen Design are known for their interactive cartographical experiments based on open source mapping data. One of my favorite projects is their classic Watercolor Maptiles that presents OpenStreetMap data in the style of watercolor paintings. Yesterday, Stamen announced that Watercolor Maptiles was acquired by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. It was a great day for Stamen as they also scored a Webby Award for the wonderful "12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha's Archive with the Getty." Congratulations Eric Rodenbeck and team!
From the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's announcement of the Watercolor Maptiles acquisition:
It is the Smithsonian's first acquisition of a live website into its collections, consisting of over 56 million map tiles (separate png image files) and the underlying code. In addition to archiving these assets, a duplicate copy of the live site will be maintained as a Smithsonian version, prioritizing the free access and interactivity that is inherent to the work[…]
"I wanted to make a kind of gesture in mapping that I hadn't seen done before," said Eric Rodenbeck, founding partner and creative director at Stamen Design. "Map making is always an expression of power as well as aesthetics. I wanted to show, not just say, that the choices mapmakers make are just that: choices, informed by ideology and agenda and all kinds of other factors. Maps occupy a special place in our information systems; they relate most closely to the physical world, so they're a great conversation piece for issues of representation, power dynamics, technology, history. Everything gets wrapped up in maps if you look closely enough. There's no such thing as a 'neutral' or 'objective' map; maps always leave something out for everything that they include."