Beautiful Maps

April 4th, 2015

Beautiful Maps presents exactly what the name suggests. Well worth a look.

Beautiful Maps tumblr

[Via swissmiss]

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Census 2011

June 29th, 2014

DataShine: Census provides a simple, map-based view of the UK's 2011 census data. I could browse this thing for hours….

The DataShine mapping platform is an output from an ESRC Future Research Leaders Project entitled "Big Open Data: Mining and Synthesis". The overall project seeks promote and develop the use of large and open datasets amongst the social science community. A key part of this initiative is the visualisation of these data in new and informative ways to inspire new uses and generate insights. Phase one has been to create the mapping platform with data from the 2011 Census. The next phases will work on important issues such as representing the uncertainty inherent in many population datasets and also developing tools that will enable the synthesis of data across multiple sources.

[Via Flowing Data]

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Geography as a matter of opinion

June 24th, 2014

I was vaguely aware that occasionally Google Maps deals with disputes over sovereignty between nations by showing different search results according to the searcher's location, but I hadn't realised just how frequently, and how rapidly this sort of action is required:

Abroad, Google Maps has waded into raw, tender issues of national identity. For example, take its depiction of Crimea on, where a dashed line reflects the U.S. view that the area is an occupied territory. But in Russia, on, the boundary line is solid – Russia has officially annexed Crimea.

[Via Quartz, via Memex 1.1]

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Actual European 'Discoveries'

July 29th, 2013

Actual European Discoveries: land unknown by humans before the Age of Exploration

Discoveries map (excerpt)

Every Columbus Day, we're reminded of the difference between discovery and "discovery" – and rightly so. But let's not sell Europe short; after all, European explorers found plenty of diminutive islands that no human had ever seen before, along with extravagant amounts of ice and snow. Just the islands alone add up to more than 0.14% of the world's total land area, and today they're home to more people than live in all of Connecticut!

All sarcasm aside, it's worth remembering that almost everywhere Europeans went, they were met by existing inhabitants. […]

[Via radicalcartography]

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Upside up and upside down

January 19th, 2013

The World Is What You Make It:

This is a map that takes some time to get your head around; quite literally, because to appreciate it fully, you need to consider it both with its north side and its south side up.

Earth 'upside up'

[…] There is no right side up – or rather: there is no wrong side up. For this is a planisphere palindrome, a planet-chart that can be 'read' the same way 'upside up' and upside down.

That Slartibartfast was a sneaky old bugger.

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Monarchism, mapped

June 6th, 2012

The Yorkshire Ranter has plotted a map showing which local council areas authorised the most Jubilee street parties per head of population.

It turns out my home borough of North Tyneside is a little island of monarchism. Who knew?

[Via Blood & Treasure]

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Population Density

April 17th, 2012

This interactive map of Population Density presents a very different perspective on the world.

It's not surprising that as you ratchet up the population density filter Australia disappears from view early on, but it's pretty amazing to see how long Greater London stays on the map, and that it survives longer than any part of the United States. As always, knowing that London is a densely populated city is a very different thing from being able to see how few parts of the world are populated on that scale.

[Via Flowing Data]

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Maps With Me

April 14th, 2012

Maps With Me is a pretty good offline mapping program for iOS and Android. Using OpenStreetMap data, it lets you download maps for the countries of your choice and store them on your mobile device, so you can consult maps wherever you are regardless of whether you have a data connection.1

The Pro version is the one to go for IMHO, since it allows searching for place/street/business names as well as viewing maps.2 I'd been using the free Lite version for a bit now, but for my money the Pro version's search function promotes MapsWithMe from the category of useful toy to that of essential tool.

  1. The maps don't take up as much room as you'd expect: England takes up just 189MB, whilst Guernsey uses just 250KB.
  2. It doesn't do bookmarking or adding existing features to a favourites list or route planning, but now that they've added the search function I would expect it'll add the first two features before long.

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Old Maps Online

February 28th, 2012

I spent much more time than I'd intended this evening playing with Old Maps Online, which looks to be another project from the creators of the A Vision of Britain through Time site I linked to a couple of years ago.

The initial map and search interface are more powerful on the new site, but as viewing a particular map usually links out to the site actually holding the map1 the user experience from that point on can be confusing as different sites use somewhat different styles of navigation. However, the biggest and best feature of the new site is that it is global in scope.2

I know it's not the same tactile experience as leafing through an old atlas, but I'll take the convenience, flexibility and scope of the electronic version every time. Definitely a site I'll be exploring a lot.

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. In many of the cases I looked at, this turns out to be the Vision of Britain site.
  2. That said, as it turned out I spent most of my time exploring old maps in my area. I've always known that my corner of town was all fields not just in 1832, but only five years before I was born, but it's still fascinating to see graphical evidence of just how recently the town of North Shields expanded inland as it turned into a dormitory suburb of Newcastle.

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The Modern Atlas

January 10th, 2012

Google's Willem Van Lancker has posted a fascinating piece on the evolution of Google Maps, Google Maps: Designing the Modern Atlas:

As Google Maps has broadened in scope, we have also had to address fundamental differences in tasks as basic as navigation and driving directions. We have found that, generally speaking, people navigate primarily by street names in Western countries and by landmarks and points of interest in the East. This is due to a combination of factors including a lack of road names (e.g. in India where locals rely on landmarks) or just a more complex street addressing system (e.g. in Japan where street numbers are assigned by date of construction, not sequentially). […]

[In Japan…] schoolchildren are taught a set of unique icons for everyday things like post offices and hospitals. To ensure familiarity in that country, replacements were created specific to Japanese users. While we employ standardized icons for many modes of transportation (e.g. buses, trams, trains), subways lack an international sign. As subways are often used by both tourists and locals, the local branding systems for subway stations worked best – helping guide users both on maps and as they navigate outside in the real world. Additionally, a custom body of regional road shields has been maintained, ensuring consistency and familiarity with real-world roadside markers.

I suppose I was somewhat aware that Google Maps featured some degree of regional customisation, but I had no idea how far it went, nor of the sheer range of factors that make maps 'work' for users in (or simply visiting) a given locale.

[Via Flowing Data]

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