• Music preference by region

    April 22, 2014  |  Mapping

    Music in America

    Movoto mapped music preference for various genres, across the United States.

    We calculated musical taste scores using data from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (via the Martin Prosperity Institute) and state level music preferences from Wikipedia. The scores include music genre preference survey data and genre performer concentrations by metro, weighted by that metro's influence on the music scene. We took the scores for each metro and used a spatial statistics method called nearest neighbors to create the heatmap.

  • Where nobody lives

    April 18, 2014  |  Mapping

    Where nobody lives

    We've seen the map of where everyone lives. Now here's the reverse of that by Nik Freeman: where nobody lives in the United States.

    A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

    See also Stephen Von Worley's map from a couple years ago, which shows blocks in the US with only one person per square mile.

  • High-detail maps with Disser

    April 10, 2014  |  Mapping

    Detailed building map

    Open data consultancy Conveyal released Disser, a command-line tool to disaggregate geographic data to show more details. For example, we've seen data represented with uniformly distributed dots to represent populations, which is fine for a zoomed out view. However, when you get in close, it can be useful to see distributions more accurately represented.

    If the goal of disaggregation is to make a reasonable guess at the data in its pre-aggregated form, we've done an okay job. There's an obvious flaw with this map, though. People aren't evenly distributed over a block — they're concentrated into residential buildings.

    So Disser combines datasets of different granularity, so that you can see spreads and concentrations that are closer to real life.

  • Independent coffee shops and community

    April 9, 2014  |  Mapping

    Independent coffee shops

    As part of the You Are Here project from the MIT Media Lab, an exploration of independent coffee shops in San Francisco:

    Independent coffee shops are positive markers of a living community. They function as social spaces, urban offices, and places to see the world go by. Communities are often formed by having spaces in which people can have casual interactions, and local and walkable coffee shops create those conditions, not only in the coffee shop themselves, but on the sidewalks around them. We use maps to know where these coffee shop communities exist and where, by placing new coffee shops, we can help form them.

    Each dot is a coffee shop, and the shaded spots around the dot represent the areas nearest each shop. It's an interesting, more granular contrast to coffee chain geography and provides a better sense of a city's layout.

    See also the same idea applied to Cambridge. I imagine there are more cities to come, as the data is gleaned from the Google Places and Google Distance Matrix APIs.

  • Regional macrobrews

    April 7, 2014  |  Mapping

    Beer tweeting

    FloatingSheep pointed their Twitter geography towards beer (and wine).

    From Sam Adams in New England to Yuengling in Pennsylvania to Grain Belt and Schlitz in the upper Midwest, these beers are quite clearly associated with particular places. Other beers, like Hudepohl and Goose Island are interesting in that they stretch out from their places of origin -- Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively -- to encompass a much broader region where there tend to be fewer regionally-specific competitors, at least historically. On the other hand, beers like Lone Star, Corona and Dos Equis tend to have significant overlap in their regional preferences, with all three having some level of dominance along the US-Mexico border region, but with major competition between these brands in both Arizona and Texas.

    This of course excludes the increased appreciation for craft beer, as there isn't enough data for significant microbrewery results.

  • Open access to 20,000 maps from NYPL

    April 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    Maps from NYPL

    The New York Public Library announced open access to 20,000 maps, making them free to download and use.

    The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library's Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper

    Begin your journey.

  • Planetary layer cake

    April 2, 2014  |  Mapping

    Planetary layer cake

    From Cakecrumbs, a product that helps you learn while you eat: planetary layer cakes. The graduate student slash baker hobbyist's sister asked if she could make one, and at first she thought it couldn't be done. But then she thought more about it.

    I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about it. I don’t admit defeat. Ever. But especially not with cake. Nothing is impossible is pretty much my baking motto, so to say this cake was impossible left me feeling weird. There had to be a way. A way that didn't involve carving or crumbing the cake. I kept mulling it over until I had a breakthrough.

    See how it was done.

  • Centuries of European border changes

    March 28, 2014  |  Mapping

    The Centennia Historical Atlas is a program that shows you border changes in Europe and the Middle East, from the 11th century to the present. It's meant as an educational tool. The video below is the animated map from the program set to climactic music from the movie Inception.

    Now contrast that to the original promotional video for Centennia. I'm amused. [via @sogrady]

  • Smoking rates and income

    March 27, 2014  |  Mapping

    Smoking rates

    Based on a study on smoking prevalence from 1996 to 2012, a map by The New York Times shows the results. Smoking rates among men and women have declined overall over the years, but there are still relatively high rates in many areas of the country, which appears to correlate with income. Lower income tends towards higher smoking rates.

    That would explain why the map above looks similar to a county-level map for median household income, which probably interacts with life spans by county somehow.

  • Reconstructing Google Streetview as a point cloud

    March 26, 2014  |  Mapping

    Patricio Gonzalez Vivo, an MFA Design & Technology student, scraped depth from Google Streetview and then reconstructed it in openFrameworks. The result is Point Cloud City. See it in action in the video below.

    Dreamlike.

    Now I'm curious what else can be gleaned from this data, because this essentially means you could get really detailed data about the makeup of places, down to the window of a building. Although I don't imagine Google will let this stay so accessible for long. [Thanks, @pixelbeat]

  • Level of road grid

    March 25, 2014  |  Mapping

    Road orientation

    Seth Kadish looked at the road network of several major counties and estimated the directions the streets run. The result is a set of charts that shows which cities use a grid system and those that don't.

    If you're like me, and you use the Sun to navigate, you probably appreciate cities with gridded street plans that are oriented in the cardinal directions. If you know that your destination is due west, even if you hit a dead end or two, you'll be able to get there. However, not all urban planners settled on such a simple layout for road networks. For some developers, topography or water may have gotten in the way. Others may not have appreciated the efficiency of the grid. This visualization assesses those road networks by comparing the relative degree to which they are gridded.

    Whoa, Charlotte.

    Since the original, Kadish has added more counties and a handful of international cities.

  • Basketball movements visualized

    March 4, 2014  |  Mapping

    Tim Duncan movements

    The NBA has been kind of gaga over data the past few years, and they recently announced that all 30 teams would have player tracking installed so they can see where they go at night after games. Wait, no. I mean so that there is data on where each player is on the court at any given time. Fathom Information Design played with some of this data for an Oklahoma City versus San Antonio game, with some sketches.

    Above are the movements of power forward Tim Duncan, who sticks around the middle of the court throughout a game. A guard on the other hand, runs around the court more. This is obvious if you've watched him play, but sketches like this coupled with spatiotemporal analysis could be interesting.

    Also, I get the sense that there's more people who want to know about this data than there are who know how to, so if you're a statistician on the job hunt, there's that.

  • Solar time versus standard time around the world

    March 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    How much is time wrong around the world?

    After noting the later dinner time in Spain, Stefano Maggiolo noted relatively late sunsets for one of the possible reasons, compared to standard time. Then he mapped sunset time versus standard time around the world.

    Looking for other regions of the world having the same peculiarity of Spain, I edited a world map from Wikipedia to show the difference between solar and standard time. It turns out, there are many places where the sun rises and sets late in the day, like in Spain, but not a lot where it is very early (highlighted in red and green in the map, respectively). Most of Russia is heavily red, but mostly in zones with very scarce population; the exception is St. Petersburg, with a discrepancy of two hours, but the effect on time is mitigated by the high latitude. The most extreme example of Spain-like time is western China: the difference reaches three hours against solar time. For example, today the sun rises there at 10:15 and sets at 19:45, and solar noon is at 15:01.

  • Near-real-time global forest watch

    February 24, 2014  |  Mapping

    Global forest watch

    Global Forest Watch uses satellite imagery and other technologies to estimate forest usage, change, and tree cover (among other things). These estimates and their eventual actions used to be slow. Now they're near-real-time.

    This is about to change with the launch of Global Forest Watch—an online forest monitoring system created by the World Resources Institute, Google and a group of more than 40 partners. Global Forest Watch uses technologies including Google Earth Engine and Google Maps Engine to map the world’s forests with satellite imagery, detect changes in forest cover in near-real-time, and make this information freely available to anyone with Internet access.

    Many layers and high granularity. Take your time with this one.

  • Using slime mold to find the best motorway routes

    February 20, 2014  |  Mapping

    This is all sorts of neat. Researchers Andrew Adamatzky and Ramon Alonso-Sanz are using a slime mold, P polycephalum, to find the most efficient road routes to provide guidance on how to rework them. P polycephalum is a single-celled organism that forages for food through various branches, and when it finds the most efficient food source, backs away from the others. The video above is a sped up version of it in action. Adamatzky and Alonso-Sanz put a map underneath.

    We cut agar plates in a shape of Iberian peninsula, place oat flakes at the sites of major urban areas and analyse the foraging network developed. We compare the plasmodial network with principle motorways and also analyse man-made and plasmodium networks in a framework of planar proximity graphs.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Why we think of north pointing up

    February 19, 2014  |  Mapping

    Claudius Ptolemy world map

    Nick Danforth for Al Jazeera delves into the history books for why north is typically on the top of our maps. There's no single reason for it, but Ptolemy might have had something to do with it.

    The north's position was ultimately secured by the beginning of the 16th century, thanks to Ptolemy, with another European discovery that, like the New World, others had known about for quite some time. Ptolemy was a Hellenic cartographer from Egypt whose work in the second century A.D. laid out a systematic approach to mapping the world, complete with intersecting lines of longitude and latitude on a half-eaten-doughnut-shaped projection that reflected the curvature of the earth. The cartographers who made the first big, beautiful maps of the entire world, Old and New — men like Gerardus Mercator, Henricus Martellus Germanus and Martin Waldseemuller — were obsessed with Ptolemy. They turned out copies of Ptolemy's Geography on the newly invented printing press, put his portrait in the corners of their maps and used his writings to fill in places they had never been, even as their own discoveries were revealing the limitations of his work.

    Ptolemy put north on top. Although, we don't know why he put it there.

  • Map: US bus and Amtrak routes

    February 6, 2014  |  Mapping

    Bus routes

    In case you're wondering how to travel the country without a car (in a way other than running), this map from the American Intercity Bus Riders Association [pdf] shows you all the bus and Amtrak routes that span the United States. Keep in mind that these trains don't run 24/7, so plan accordingly.

  • Places in the US with the most pleasant days per year

    February 4, 2014  |  Mapping

    Pleasant places to live

    We've seen plenty of maps the past few weeks that show how bad the weather is, in just about everywhere but California. Kelly Norton looked at it from the other direction and estimated how many pleasant days per year areas of the US get, based on historical NOAA data.

    I decided to take a stab at what constitutes a "pleasant" day and then aggregate NOAA data for the last 23 years to figure out the regions of the United States with the most (and least) pleasant days in a typical year. The results, I think, are not that surprising and pretty much affirm the answer given off the cuff by many of my west coast friends when asked about the best places, "Southern California?" For the areas with the least pleasant days, I admit I would have guessed North Dakota. However, it’s much of Montana that gets an average of a couple of weeks of pleasantness each year.

    Of course the map changes (mainly the geographic range) depending on the definition of a "pleasant" day. In this case it's defined as one where the mean temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees.

  • Digitally revamped atlas of historical geography, from 1932

    February 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    Snow cover

    In 1932, Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright published Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, a reference of almost 700 maps about a varied set of topics, such as weather, travel, and population. The Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond brought the atlas to digital life.

    In this digital edition we've tried to bring—hopefully unobtrusively and respectfully—Paullin and Wright’s maps a bit closer to that ideal. First, with the exception of the historical maps from the cartography section and a handful of others (those that used polar projections, for example), we’ve georeferenced and georectified all of the maps from the atlas so that they can be overlaid consistently within a digital mapping environment. (Georeferencing is a process of linking points on a map to geographic coordinates, and georectification is a process of warping a map using those coordinates to properly align it within a particular projection, here web mercator.) High-quality scans of all of the maps as they appeared on the plates are available too.

    Not only are the maps overlaid on a slippy map, but the lab also added simple interactions with tool tips and animation so you can look more specifically at the data.

    I could spend all day (or several days) looking through this. [Thanks, Lee]

  • Amount of snow to cancel school

    January 31, 2014  |  Mapping

    Snow day

    Someone ended an email to me last week with "Stay warm." Not to sound like a jerk, but I happened to be answering email outside with my t-shirt on and sweater slung over the chair. I was also half-wondering whether I should change into shorts. Anyway, this map by Alexandr Trubetskoy, or reddit user atrubetskoy, might be of interest to many of you not in California. It shows an estimated amount of snow required to close school for the day, by county.
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