Posts Tagged ‘post’

Galapagos island relies on travelers to deliver the mail (Wash Post)

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

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[Editor's note: I've received a postcard thru the Galapagos "postal system", it works!]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Andrea Sachs. January 31, 2010

Floreana Island’s postal service hasn’t evolved from its origins hundreds of years ago. But unlike Darwin’s finches, it doesn’t need to adapt to survive.

Instead of stamps and postmen, the Galapagos isle relies on a barrel and the kindness of travelers to move its mail. Twice a day including Sunday, boatloads of unofficial mail carriers land in Post Office Bay and walk a few sandy yards to a wooden barrel crammed with postcards and notes left by past visitors. The guests, mainly cruisers eco-touring the Ecuadorian islands, sort through the stacks, looking for addresses within delivery distance of their homes. They also drop their own messages into the receptacle, adding another link to the chain of mail.

“Sometimes it’s faster than the regular mail,” said our guide, Carlos, as he yanked dozens of letters from a plastic bag. “You come one day and drop it off two days later.”

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

‘Citizen cartographers’ map the microcosms of the world (Wash Post)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

[Editor's note: The Washington Post's Mike Musgrove covers the OpenStreetMap.org phenomenon during a recent meet-up of MappingDC in the nation's capital.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Mike Musgrove

On a cold Sunday morning in Washington, none of the two-dozen scruffy students and techie folks crowded into one side of a bustling cafe noticed as Steve Coast, a 29-year-old British programmer, moseyed in and joined their ranks. They didn’t realize it, but there was the man with a plan to map the world.

They were there to do their part, but that’s the funny thing about being the leader of a large, online movement: Everybody knows your name, but nobody recognizes you.

The citizen cartographers, known as MappingDC, had gathered to help complete Coast’s interactive map of the globe — or at least Washington’s corner of it.

“Maps are expensive and proprietary,” said Coast, sipping on his coffee and explaining the core tenets of the project, called OpenStreetMap. “They should be free.”

Coast had the idea for OpenStreetMap in 2004, when he was a student living in London. Coast had a GPS and a laptop, you see, and he figured that with a little programming magic he could build a map of his local haunts that contained more useful information than any service he could find online.

What’s more, he said, “I figured that if I did that, and he did that, and you did that, then, together, we could put together a jigsaw map of the world.”

Since that day, a few hundred thousand people around the planet have pitched in online to enter information about everything from the name of their local library to an area’s handicap accessibility.

In Germany, the country with some of the project’s most enthusiastic participants, volunteers have very nearly catalogued their country down to the last lamppost. During a recent trip to Atlanta, Coast found that users had paid particular attention to the area’s storm drains, perhaps because of recent floods. In Denver, where he lives, Coast has noticed that users are obsessed with noting every footpath and bike trail.

As with Wikipedia, the premise here is that the collective contributions of an enthusiastic community can create a better service than something a corporate entity could put out on its own.

Sure, Google, with its massive resources, has the wherewithal to hire workers to record the street-level images used in its map service. But “a couple of guys driving a truck down a street don’t viscerally care” about whether they captured your neighborhood’s streets exactly right, said Coast, who was in town to attend a conference by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Remember encyclopedias? The problem with those dead-tree tomes was always that the information printed within could go obsolete the day they were published. It’s always been the same for paper street maps, too. MappingDC and OpenStreetMap project members argue that their map is better because it can be instantly corrected. Again, like Wikipedia, the belief is that the wisdom of the crowd will prevail or fix errors.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Money Talks During Health Reform (Wash Post)

Monday, July 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: Tree map charting.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
July 21, 2009. Related article: GOP Focuses Effort To Kill Health Bills

Nearly 60 percent of the health-care industry’s campaign contributions to members of Congress have gone to House and Senate leaders and lawmakers sitting on one of the five committees drafting legislation to reform the nation’s health system.

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Using Data Visualization as a Reporting Tool Can Reveal Story’s Shape (Poynter)

Friday, June 26th, 2009

[Editor’s note: My colleague Sarah Cohen at The Washington Post was recently interviewed by Poynter about creating data visualizations to help readers understand and reporters research complicated stories. Sarah is on her way to a big new gig at Duke University.]

Republished from Poynter.
By Steve Myers at 6:12 AM on Apr. 14, 2009

Readers have come to rely on interactive presentations to understand complicated stories, using them to zoom in on periods of time and highlight areas of interest. Yet to investigate these stories, reporters often create what amounts to handcrafted investigative art: flow charts with circles and arrows, maps shaded with highlighters and stuck with pins.

More and more, though, some reporters are using data visualization tools to find the story hidden in the data. Those tools help them discover patterns and focus their reporting on particular places and times. Many of the presentations, which can have rough interfaces or less-than-sleek design, are never published.

At the recent National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference, Sarah Cohen, database editor for The Washington Post‘s investigative team — and recently named professor of computational journalism at Duke University — showed how reporters can use interactive graphics for their exploratory reporting. [PDF]

Cohen described this approach to me via e-mail. Here’s an edited version of our exchange.

Steve Myers: How would creating a digital, visual representation of data help a reporter? What does it tell you that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise?

Sarah Cohen
Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen: The same way that visualizations and graphics help readers cut through a lot of clutter and display dense information in an efficient way. The most common things that early visualizations help with are place and time — two of the most important elements in reporting a complex story. Those two things are really hard to see in text. They’re really, really hard to see in combination. So the graphics can show you where to go to find your subjects or where to go to find the most typical subjects. They can also show you when the story you are trying to find peaked. Put them together, and you can start finding the very best examples for your story.

That’s pretty general, so let me give you a couple of examples. During a story on disaster payments in the farm subsidy system, we wanted to make sure that we went to places that had received the payments year after year after year. Using a database, we could find farms that had received multiple payments pretty easily. But looking at repeated images of density maps that I made of the payments, it was really obvious where to go — specific areas of North Dakota and Kansas.

Crop payments
Sarah Cohen/Poynter illustration
Cohen used density maps to figure out what areas of the country had received disaster payments year after year.


In another example, we were working last year on a story on practices used by landlords to empty their buildings, partly in order to avoid strict laws on condo conversions (visualizations: research version, published version. We knew one neighborhood of the city was Ground Zero — an area called Columbia Heights, in Northwest D.C. But making an interactive map with a slider that showed the timing, we could see that it was moving into other areas of the city, especially in Southeast. We could also quickly see that the most affluent areas of the city had none of them.

Continue reading at Poynter . . .

Top 10 Choke Points (Washington Post)

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

[Editor's note: This map is an example of direct annotation of a schematic flow diagram with real world map coordinates. Better than a list, better than interactive roll overs. All in a static graphic!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Despite an overall decrease in traffic congestion, there are still spots where traffic regularly comes to a crawl during peak periods. Here are the 10 worst traffic choke points in the region. These areas are characterized by severe congestion and extended delays – car speed ranged from 10 to 20 miles per hour, with 115 to 100 cars per mile, per lane.

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INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: The Post 200 Database (Kelso via Wash Post)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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[Editor’s note: Uses the Flare visualization API in Flash ActionScript 3 to display data about the Post 200 companies in a treemap format. A vexing and il-documented API, but powerful. We considered showing the data with a graduated circle map but the company locations were too clustered for that to be effective.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
13 May 2009. By Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Terri Rupar – The Washington Post

Use our interactive graphic to explore data — including revenue and employment — for the top companies in the Washington area.

Boxes represent individual companies grouped together by sector, size based on data.

View the interactive version at The Washington Post . . .

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Marinated in the Morning, Grilled at Night: The Charms of Peru’s Fusion Cuisine (Wash Post)

Friday, May 1st, 2009

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[Editor's note: Food is one of the perfect intersections of physical and cultural geography. This article from The Washington Post last month highlights how Peru's location and cultural heritage intertwine to bring us a special cuisine enjoyable when traveling afar or at your local cheap eat.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

By Jane Black Wednesday, April 1, 2009; Page F01.

LIMA, Peru — It’s usually the sneakers that give Americans away when they travel abroad. But here, it’s what you eat — and when you eat it. Only tourists would think of ordering ceviche after 2 p.m. If the fish, which is “cooked” in a marinade of lime juice, onion and chili peppers, has been out of the water for more than 12 hours, most Peruvians turn up their noses. It simply isn’t fresh enough.

It’s easy for Peruvians to be particular about their seafood. Fed by the icy, nutrient-rich Humboldt Current, the waters off the Peruvian coast are the most bountiful fishing grounds in the world. Which is why, seven days a week, starting at 4 a.m., fishermen at the Villa Maria market in Lima hawk Dover sole for ceviche, plus red snapper, tuna, scallops, squid and octopus just hours out of the sea.

Eating ceviche, the South American country’s best-known dish, is a must in Lima. But there’s so much more: tiraditos, a Peruvian take on sashimi; Chinese stir-fries spiked with Peruvian chili peppers; and sushi rolls filled with scallop and Parmesan cheese, a favorite combination in Lima.

“Right now, people want to discover new flavors,” says Peru’s most famous chef, Gaston Acurio, who owns 29 restaurants around the world. If the Japanese could persuade the world to embrace raw fish and seaweed, he reasons, “why can’t we dream of doing the same with Peruvian food?”

Peru’s campaign is well underway. In 2006, Acurio, 41, reportedly wowed the crowd at the prestigious Madrid Fusion culinary conference, which anointed Lima “the gastronomic capital of Latin America.” More recently, chefs such as Todd English and food magazines have declared it the next big thing, praising the diverse ingredients and creative combinations of flavors. (Indeed, Peruvian cuisine might finally be the thing to redeem “fusion,” which has been a dirty word in culinary circles ever since the 1990s brought us sesame-crusted everything.)

Hundreds of years of immigration have created a natural fusion of Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese influences. A wave of Chinese arrived in the 1850s to help build the railroads, bringing with them ingredients such as soy sauce and wok-cooking techniques. The Japanese came in the early 20th century to work on sugar and cotton plantations, and, according to the indispensable food guide “Eat Smart in Peru” (Ginkgo Press, 2006), they were instrumental in transforming ceviche from home cooking to restaurant fare. Asian influences are especially pronounced in Lima.

On the southern coast, where the Spanish brought African slaves, popular dishes include carapulcra, a stew of pork, dried potatoes and peanuts. In the Andes, the pre-colonial cuisine showcases such meats as alpaca and guinea pig, as well as potatoes, which originated in the area more than 7,000 years ago.

At the heart of all Peruvian cooking are its chili peppers, or ajis (ah-HEES). There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ajis from the western slopes of the Andes and the jungle. The three most popular are aji amarillo, a delicate but piquant pepper that is a must in ceviche; aji panca, an earthy dried chili; and aji rocoto, a fiery chili that is commonly stuffed with meat and cheese for a dish called rocoto relleno, or added to spice up soups and sauces.

Continue readin at The Washington Post . . .

Jump Starting the Global Economy (Wash Post)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Find the trends, group them together, and use that hierarchy (topology) as an access metaphor. And remember geography doesn't always need to mean map.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Original publication date: March 29th, 2009.
By Karen Yourish And Todd Lindeman — The Washington Post.

The total amount of the stimulus packages approved by the G-20 countries amounts to $1.6 trillion. More than half of that comes from the United States.

Other maps and graphics that use grouping:

Award for Taxi Fare Estimator (Kelso)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Washington Post won 5 bronze awards in the Malofiej Infographics competition (SND Spain), including one for my interactive graphic District Taxi Fare Estimator published in January 2008.

Full list of Washington Post winners (all print except mine):

  • Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton for U.S. History of Black Politicians
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for Recession 101
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for explanation of the high price of oil/gas
  • April Umminger and Laura Stanton for the fireworks preview page
  • Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso for the District Taxi Fare Estimator interactive

Read my post on how the interactive was created . . .

The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers (The Nation)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Somewhat depressing article from The Nation examines how many major cities across the US face the prospect of loosing their daily newspapers and what that could mean for journalism and democracy in America. Thanks Todd!]

Republished from The Nation.
by JOHN NICHOLS & ROBERT W. MCCHESNEY
March 18, 2009 (April 6, 2009 print edition)

RELATED: Former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie discusses the future of newspapers on CSPAN.

Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

After years of neglecting signs of trouble, elite opinion-makers have begun in recent months to recognize that things have gone horribly awry. Journals ranging from TimeThe New YorkerThe Atlantic and The New Republic to the New York Times and theLos Angeles Times concur on the diagnosis: newspapers, as we have known them, are disintegrating and are possibly on the verge of extinction. Time‘s Walter Isaacson describes the situation as having “reached meltdown proportions” and concludes, “It is now possible to contemplate a time in the near future when major towns will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters.” A newspaper industry that still employs roughly 50,000 journalists–the vast majority of the remaining practitioners of the craft–is teetering on the brink.

Blame has been laid first and foremost on the Internet, for luring away advertisers and readers, and on the economic meltdown, which has demolished revenues and hammered debt-laden media firms. But for all the ink spilled addressing the dire circumstance of the ink-stained wretch, the understanding of what we can do about the crisis has been woefully inadequate. Unless we rethink alternatives and reforms, the media will continue to flail until journalism is all but extinguished.

Let’s begin with the crisis. In a nutshell, media corporations, after running journalism into the ground, have determined that news gathering and reporting are not profit-making propositions. So they’re jumping ship. The country’s great regional dailies–the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, theMinneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer–are in bankruptcy. Denver’s Rocky Mountain Newsrecently closed down, ending daily newspaper competition in that city. The owners of the San Francisco Chronicle, reportedly losing $1 million a week, are threatening to shutter the paper, leaving a major city without a major daily newspaper. Big dailies in Seattle (the Times), Chicago (the Sun-Times) and Newark (the Star-Ledger) are reportedly near the point of folding, and smaller dailies like the Baltimore Examiner have already closed. The 101-year-old Christian Science Monitor, in recent years an essential source of international news and analysis, is folding its daily print edition. The Seattle Post-Intelligenceris scuttling its print edition and downsizing from a news staff of 165 to about twenty for its online-only incarnation. Whole newspaper chains–such as Lee Enterprises, the owner of large and medium-size publications that for decades have defined debates in Montana, Iowa and Wisconsin–are struggling as the value of stock shares falls below the price of a single daily paper. And the New York Times needed an emergency injection of hundreds of millions of dollars by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in order to stay afloat.

Continue reading at The Nation . . .