Posts Tagged ‘cartogrammer’

New City Landscapes – Interactive Tweetography Maps (UrbanTick)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010


[Editor’s note: Series of maps showing twitter tweet density in New York, London, Paris and Munich (some but not all tweets are tagged with geographic coordinates) with hypsometric tints, contours, and placenames (with some literary license). A little more refined than those San Francisco crime maps floating around earlier this month. Thanks Andy!]

Republished from @UrbanTick

Over the past few months we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data. Via a radius of 30km around New York, London, Paris, Munich we have collated the number of Tweets and created our New City Landscape Maps.

Continue reading at UrbanTick . . .

Value-by-Alpha Maps, Cartograms, and More (Cartogrammer)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010


[Editor’s note: Best practices on accounting for area-distortions normally present in conformal map projections by using cartograms and value-by-alpha alternatives. Check out the paper. Thanks ChartPorn!]

Republished from Cartogrammer.

The latest issue of the The Cartographic Journal (of the British Cartographic Society) contains a paper written by Robert Roth, me, and Zachary Johnson entitled “Value-by-alpha Maps: An Alternative Technique to the Cartogram.” The value-by-alpha map is something I have touched on here several times over the past year and a half (as has Zach on his blog), and about which I spoke at last year’s NACIS conference in Sacramento. With the publication of this paper, it’s high time I explained what it’s all about.

Value-by-alpha maps (hereafter shortened to VBA), like everything noble and good, have their roots in somebody complaining about something on the internet—me, about election cartograms. Seeking an alternative to what I think are ugly and unreadable election results cartograms, I worked with my Axis Maps dudes to create a 2008 U.S. election map that used transparency rather than size to vary the visual impact of map units, thinking that avoiding the distortion of these units into unrecognizable sizes and shapes would make the map easier to read.

Rob Roth, a stellar Ph.D. candidate and shameless county collector at Penn State (studying under The Beard himself, the illustrious Alan MacEachren) became interested in further developing the idea academically and enlisted my Axis Maps partner and radical raw milk zealot Zach Johnson (who wrote his master’s thesis on cartograms) and I to collaborate on the now-published Cartographic Journal article. We were all graduate students at Madison together once upon a time, and we make a good team—striking a perfect balance between study, practice, and chili-eating.

Enough backstory. I’ll summarize at moderate length the idea and what we wrote.

Continue reading at Cartogrammer . . .

Do you prefer KML or Shapefile format? Introducing Finder! and Maker! from

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Please note that I have updated Fortius One’s Off the Map blog to my blogroll at right. They have an interesting post that highlights the trends for their first month of operating Finder! and Maker! two exciting new tools for the (budding) cartographers for finding spatial datasets and making maps via their Flash based interface, devoped by Andy, Mark, Ben, and David at Axis Maps and shown off at last week’s NACIS mapping conference.

It turns out that most data uploads to their site are in shapefile (which makes sense since that’s the defacto standard for GIS data these days) but the vast majority of downloads are in KML format for people wishing to see the data in Google Earth and other more general audience mapping tools. See this post for more information.

Use Maker! to shorten your map creation process from hours to minutes. Maker! gives you the power to make stunning interactive maps with your own data, GeoCommons public data or both.

Here’s a demo for Finder a browser-based application for finding, organizing, and sharing GeoData in common formats. Search the world’s GeoData or upload your own.

GeoCommons Maker! Awesome or super awesome? (Cartogrammar)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Republished from Andy Woodward’s Cartogrammer blog from Oct. 1st, 2008. See my related post here.]

Maker logo

After a summer of long hours and occasional vagarancy, [Andy is] happy to report that GeoCommons Maker! has launched today.  FortiusOne’s CEO Sean Gorman nicely sums up what Maker (I’m going to go ahead and drop the exclamation point henceforth) is all about:

Data that was once the sole providence of GIS professionals can now be mapped by anyone. Not only can they access the data but be guided through a process of creating a cartographically and statistically accurate map.

[Andy’s] esteemed colleagues and I at Axis Maps teamed up with FortiusOne to build Maker, sharing the goal of bringing good cartography to a vast collection of geographic data.

Maker is integrated with the existing GeoCommons service Finder, where users can access thousands of geographic data sets in different formats and contribute their own data. Now with Maker, users can create and share some of the slightly sophisticated cartographic visualizations that were once reserved for expensive desktop GIS applications. We hope that this will encourage appreciation of cartographic design in web maps, or, to quote the FortiusOne blog’s former name, to “move past push pins.” For a good summary of the highlights and goals of Maker, check out Andrew Turner’s announcement.

[Andy’s team’s] role at Axis Maps was essentially to build the Flash front end for Maker, bringing our collected expertise in cartography to the discussions with the GeoCommons team. A good map in 5 minutes was the goal, so we tried to reduce the map-making process to a short series of decisions that produce a well-designed map allowing basic analysis that is insightful and appropriate to the data. To that end we have the “Map Brewer” that greets you in Maker when you load a data layer.

Map Brewer steps

A map in four clicks if you like. This is a slight variation on the concept of a tool put forth by Professor Cindy Brewer with our own Professor Mark Harrower in ColorBrewer. Professor Brewer has described what she sees as the “brewer” concept (see #8 here). In short, a brewer is a tool that guides a mapmaker through particular cartographic design decisions, presenting reasonable options and the information necessary to critically evaluate those options. It does not make the decisions for you; it helps you make decisions. We could have tried to have the system determine the best cartographic design for the data it’s given, but we think that guiding the user through a few decisions will lead to far better maps. The Map Brewer is the salient example of the principles we’ve tried to uphold throughout the interface and workflow: allowing decent design flexibility while keeping decisions simple and encouraging effective design.

Meanwhile, something I worked with a lot was actually rendering the data on the map. The Flash application builds on Modest Maps to display geometry (retrieved from the extensive back end), making map navigation easy and providing a variety of base map choices. There is continuing work to make the rendering methods more extensible by streamlining the integration with Modest Maps and allowing more flexibility of data formats. I must stress that the powerful back end to all this reflects a lot of hard work and ingenuity at FortiusOne, and they continue to work to make these data and maps as fast and easy to access and share as possible. It’s been a valuable experience to work with them and see everything they’ve put into GeoCommons.

It’ll be exciting to see how Maker evolves and expands. For some time now I’ve perceived a geoweb community emphasis on data, data, data, and I hope that Maker can cater to that while also introducing a stronger focus on presentation.

So please pardon the kinks that are still being worked out, and enjoy making some cool maps! Here’s my fist publicly shared map, a frivolous one of course: “Freshmen are Criminals”

Freshmen are Criminals

Paula Scher: Maps as Tag Clouds?!

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

paula scher europe

paula scher europe detail

Paula Scher has produced a series of nifty map art that focuses more on placenames than their locational placement. The placenames are in correct “relative” space but not absolute space. The names all run together in a placename tapestry where they swirl in colorful waves and eddies. Thanks Curt!

From the Maya Stendhal Gallery press release:

Maya Stendhal Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of renowned artist and graphic designer Paula Scher, which runs from November 8, 2007 through January 26, 2008. Scher expands on her highly acclaimed Maps series to create her most engaging work yet, depicting entire continents, countries and cities from all over the world that have been the critical focus of attention in recent headlines.

Through an acute understanding of the powerful relationship between type and image, Scher harmonizes witty with tragic, the methodical with the intuitive, and the personal with the universal in these new paintings. Dynamic images are saturated with layers of elaborate line, explosions of words, and bright colors creating a plethora of visual information that produces an emotive response to places lived, visited, and imagined. Scher’s maps also reflect the abundance of information that inundates us daily through newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet to reveal the fact that much of what we hear and read is strewn with inaccuracy, distorted facts, and subjectivity.

On view will be Tsunami (2006) depicting the area that was ravaged by the destructive natural force on December 26, 2004. Evoking memories of compassion and grief, the image is covered by a swirling vortex of words denoting towns, cities, and areas, which echo the violent rotation of that monumental storm. Paris’s (2007) bold blue and white péripherique rigidly maintains the city’s borders. While inside, Paris as we know it beams in a captivating latticework of blue, yellow, green, and purple exuding the city’s sense of vitality and charm. China (2006) shows a colossal landmass with cities, provinces, and roads pulsating in reds, blues, greens, and yellows. Listed above are the astounding statistics that make China one of the world’s great centers of capitalism and culture. Manhattan at night (2007) glows in deep jewel tones of purple, blue, green, and black. This enchanting quality is sobered as the median incomes of various neighborhoods disclose the very different realities of city residents. NYC Transit (2007) projects the city in intricate layers of line, text, and color that culminate with the iconic map of the New York City subway system. The major outsourcing destination of India (2007) takes form in a giant pink landmass accented with bright blue and green road markers and orange location names, which give the impression of a sign for its popular Bollywood industry. Israel (2007) presents the country and bordering countries including Egypt, Palestine, Jordon, Syria, and Iran. Text representing cities and regions is written in varying, haphazard directions communicating a visual sense of conflict and discord. Middle East (2007) segregates the area by rendering each country in its own bold color. The land’s sordid past is remembered through hatch marks and dots representing the Babylonian Empire, Moslem Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Roman Empire.

Ms. Scher began her career creating album covers for CBS Recordings in the 1970ís. She moved on to art direction for magazines at Time Inc., and in the 1980ís formed her own boutique firm, Koppel & Scher. She has been a principal at the New York-based Pentagram design consultancy since 1991, where she has created visual identities for Citibank, The New York Public Theater, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others.

Further reading:

Andy Woodruff over at the Cartogrammar blog has a post that lists other tag cloud like maps with images.