• Perpetual Ocean

    March 27, 2012  |  Mapping

    Using a computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2), the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio (I think NASA has a thing for long names.) visualizes surface currents around the world. This is beautiful science here. Make sure you turn on high-def and go full screen.

    [via @aaronkoblin]

  • What News Sites People are Reading, by State

    March 26, 2012  |  Mapping

    Who is reading what

    Jon Bruner of Forbes, in collaboration with Hilary Mason and Anna Smith of Bitly, maps the most popular news source by state.

    Bitly's dataset, wrangled by data scientists Hilary Mason and Anna Smith, consists of every click on every Bitly link on the Web. Bitly makes its data available publicly—just add '+' to the end of any Bitly link to see how many clicks it’s gotten. For Bitly’s collaboration with Forbes, Smith and Mason looked for news sources and individual articles that were unusually popular in certain states compared to national averages. The interactive map starts by showing which news source dominates in each state by this measure: the Washington Post in Virginia and Maryland, the Chicago Tribune in Illinois, and so on.

    You can also select news sources to their click distributions across the country.

    I like how The Onion leads in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Mexico, although I'd be interested to know what other news sources the states read. A color scale might be informative, too.

  • Custom Woodcut Maps

    March 26, 2012  |  Mapping

    Woodcut maps

    Just choose the location you want via the Google Maps interface, pick what materials you want, and Woodcut Maps puts your map through the laser cutter and assembles and packs your map by hand. Great gift idea or a nice little something to set on your desk.

  • Watercolor Map Tiles

    March 21, 2012  |  Mapping

    Watercolor maps

    A couple of years ago, when you thought about online interactive maps, what came to your mind? Lots of yellow. Online maps are looking a lot different these days though, and Stamen Design has played a big role in making that happen. In their most recently released project, they offer three tile sets to use with OpenStreetMap data, and they look really good.

    All three are something to see, but the watercolor tiles will knock your socks off. They're computer-generated, but they look hand-drawn by a skilled artist slash cartographer (which is really what the Stamen folks are).

  • Visualizing the History of Everything

    March 19, 2012  |  Mapping


    Big History is a field of study that crosses multiple disciplines such as biology, natural history, and economics to form a single timeline that starts at the beginning of time and ends in the present. It's the history of everything, essentially. ChronoZoom, a collaboration between UC Berkeley, Moscow State University, and Microsoft Research, aims to visualize this seemingly endless timeline.

    You can browse years on top, and rectangles in the main view represent different scopes such as the Cosmos and Earth and the Solar System. Click on one those rectangles, and ChronoZoom, as you might guess, zooms in on the corresponding window of time. Circles within the rectangles provide videos and explanations for significant events in history.

    To get right into it though, move your mouse to the top right. There's a thing that looks like a bar graph, which is actually navigation for the scopes. Click on Humanity and watch it go.

  • Comparing heritage in the Melting Pot

    March 15, 2012  |  Mapping

    Chinese vs Indian

    At first I thought this map, by David Yanofsky for Bloomberg, was your standard county-level choropleth map of demographics. Select a self-described heritage from the first drop down and you see where all the people are by count. That's only kind of interesting, but you often just end up highlighting big cities.

    However, select a heritage from the second drop down menu to compare against the first and you get a relative scale. The above for example shows those of Chinese and Indian heritage. It's a simple calculation that makes a big difference in usefulness.

  • Geography of the basketball court

    March 12, 2012  |  Mapping

    Shooting heatmap by Goldsberry

    Kirk Goldsberry, an assistant professor of geography at Michigan State, applies his skills to the basketball court.

    In the quest to better understand the "average" NBA shooter I have begun making composite shooting charts for each position in the league. My eventual goal is to establish a spatially informed baseline and to map every shooter in the league against an average shooter. These charts are not good for that task, but they're interesting nonetheless. Here are composite shooting charts for each of the 5 conventional basketball positions. I combined the shooting data for every player in positional groups. There are some bizarre trends including some fascinating asymmetries.

    Above shows points per field goal attempt for all NBA field goal attempts from 2006 to 2011. Red means more points and blue means fewer points, so as expected it's orange-red outside the three-point line and dark red in the high percentage key. It starts to get interesting as Goldsberry breaks things down by player and position. Read the full paper [pdf] to really get into it.

    For the record, my personal basketball scoring map would be all red. Don't let my one-inch vertical leap or my low fantasy basketball ranking this season fool you. I can light it up.

    [via Slate | Thanks, Kevin]

  • Geography of government benefits

    March 7, 2012  |  Mapping

    Geography of Benefits - Medicare

    I missed this one a while back, but The New York Times had a look at the growth of government benefit programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in the United States. On the surface, it looks like your standard choropleth map that shows percent of income from government benefits, but there's a lot going on here that makes the piece really good.

    First, the arrows on the top right let you browse through decades, going back to 1969. Roll over counties to see a time series for the corresponding region against the national average. The sidebar on the left lets you view breakdowns for different programs. And finally, the guide to key trends provides a narrative for noteworthy regions and patterns.

    Now that's some good data journalism.

    [New York Times | Thanks, Jordan]

  • Growing urban populations

    March 5, 2012  |  Mapping

    Growing urban population

    In this simple interactive animation by Periscopic, in partnership with UNICEF, we see the changes in urban population from 1950 up to present, through projections for 2050. Circle size represents urban population and color is an indicator for the percentage of people living in cities or towns.

    The color choice for the continuous scale is not ideal, but I think they were working within the bounds of the existing print report.

    For the map project, we were working with pre-existing content. They had produced the map for their print report, so we had to make it look as similar as possible to that. I know they didn’t use a Dorling cartogram, but I think their intention was to be similar to one. Certain sacrifices were made in order for it to fit the 2-page spread in the report. Unfortunately, the online version had to keep the same locations.

    [UNICEF | Thanks, Dino]

  • Mobile phone digital traces

    March 1, 2012  |  Mapping

    In collaboration with Lift and Near Future Laboratory, Interactive Things explores digital traces left by mobile phones in Ville Vivante. Lines and paths flow from place to place in Geneva, Switzerland, showing how the people move in and out of the city during a 24-hour period.

    It's hard to say exactly what you're seeing here because it does move so fast, and it probably means more if you live in or near Geneva, but speaking to the video itself, you have your highs and lows during the start and end of days. It then cycles through a handful of views, namely one that looks like wind blowing through and another where particles shoot up from the ground.

    There are also interactive views on the project site.

    Reminds me of David Wicks' Drawing Water, which shows the flow of sources in the country.

    [Interactive Things via infosthetics]

  • Wind motion patterns animated

    February 29, 2012  |  Mapping

    US Wind Patterns

    Nicolas Garcia Belmonte, author of the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, mapped 72 hours of weather data from 1,200 stations across the country.

    Gathering the data from the National Weather Service was pretty interesting, I didn’t know USA had so many weather stations! The visualization shows wind direction encoded in line angles, wind speed encoded in line lengths and disk radius, and temperature encoded in hue.

    Press play, and watch it glow. You can also easily switch between symbols: discs with lines, lines only, or filled circles.

    [Nicolas Garcia Belmonte via @janwillemtulp]

  • Really old maps online

    February 28, 2012  |  Mapping

    Old maps online

    Maps have been around for a long time, but you might not know it looking online. It can be hard to find them. Old Maps Online, a project by The Great Britain Historical GIS Project and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland, is a catalog of just that.

    You can browse and search old maps via the map interface by panning and zooming, along with a search bar and a slider for time. Search results then update in the right sidebar, which provides thumbnails and links to the full-size maps.

    If only an overlay like Historypin could be incorporated. That'd be something.

    [Old Maps Online via @jatorre]

  • Giant globe display

    February 24, 2012  |  Mapping

    Hawt. [Tokyotek via @datapointed]

  • Map your Twitter friends

    February 23, 2012  |  Mapping

    Map your friends

    You'd think that this would've been done by now, but this simple mashup does exactly what the title says. Just connect your Twitter account and the people you follow popup, with some simple clustering so that people don't get all smushed together in one location.

    [Theron17 via Waxy]

  • Patterns of daily life in Netherlands from Above

    February 22, 2012  |  Mapping

    In a similar fashion to their work in Britain from Above, CGI and animation group 422 South map the daily patterns of those in the Netherlands in VPRO's production of Netherlands from Above. It's hard to get a grasp on what exactly I'm seeing, since I know next to nothing about the Netherlands and the video narration is in Dutch, but the visuals are beautiful. Planes fly, cars drive, and patterns emerge. The technique never seems to lose its entertainment value.

    Check out the short making-of video, too, which also includes folks from Stamen describing their work with the interactive portion of the feature.

    [422 South | Thanks, Ben]

  • Abstract maps of the United States

    February 13, 2012  |  Mapping

    Cartogram of detail

    Esquire invited a handful of map-makers to represent the United States outside its borders.

    Red state, blue state, big state, small state, north and south and east and west: How we define our similarities and differences with each other often comes down to where we see ourselves on the map of America. But what if we threw out the standard-issue version and started over with something new?

    Esquire's online format doesn't do the maps justice though. A lot of the images are too small to see the details. In particular, don't miss Eric Fischer's high-resolution cartogram and Stamen's interactive on where the money went. Fischer's map shows density of geotags, but zoom in, and you can see major cities in detail. Stamen's map uses IRS data in a twist to the migration map, showing county-level monetary gains and losses.

  • Taxi migration in Manhattan

    February 8, 2012  |  Mapping

    While we're on the topic of things moving on a map of changing camera angles, class project Taxi, by Tom McKeogh, Eliza Montgomery and Juan Saldarriaga, shows the movements of said vehicles in Manhattan, over 24 hours.

    Geographic location data for the origin and destination of each ride is combined with waypoint data collected from the Google Maps API in order to generate a geographically accurate representation of the trip. We used data from taxi rides originating or ending in the neighborhoods of Lincoln center or Bryant Park. The visualization recreates a 'breathing' map of Manhattan based on the migration of vehicles across the city over a period of 24 hours, displaying periods of intensity, density and decreased activity.

    I hope they do another iteration of this project. I bet they could do a lot more on the temporal side of things.

    [Digital Urban via @kennethfield]

  • Animation shows national migration patterns

    February 8, 2012  |  Mapping

    Even Westvang uses tax return data to visualize migration patterns of 300,000 Norwegians.

    When running at full speed the visualization is clearly lacking in terms of salient features, yet I find it interesting. Then again, I like looking at Pachinko machines and waterfalls — processes comfortably stuck between the random and the ordered. When slowing the animation down and filtering for certain demographies it becomes more useful. At its best laymen, like myself, can visually perceive facets of the natioal Norwegian migratory process that before were only available through the statistical calculations of researchers in demography.

    As you might expect, each particle represents a person moving from one ZIP code to another. The more people moving from point A to point B, the faster the particles move.

    The most interesting bit, that I wish Westvan did more of, is closer to the end, when he shows a couple of demographic breakdowns. The older demographic tends to move shorter distances, and those with higher salaries shoot out from bigger cities. Hey Jon Bruner, something to keep in mind for your next iteration. Although I'm pretty sure the US doesn't make income data for every citizen publicly available like Norway does. What's that about?

    [Even Westvan via @mariuswatz]

  • Bird migration patterns mapped

    February 2, 2012  |  Mapping

    Bird migration

    Birds move. eBird shows us how.

    Understanding patterns of bird occurrence at continental scales has long been one of eBird's fundamental challenges. Only now, with 42 million records and ever more thorough coverage nationwide, is this becoming possible. Ongoing research at the Cornell Lab is currently producing cutting-edge graphics that we are pleased to share here. Day-by-day predictions of species occurrence allows these models to shine a spotlight on the most awe-inspiring of natural spectacles: the ebb and flow of bird migration.

    Cutting edge? No. They are thorough though, with maps (in the form of animated gifs) for a large number of species.

    [eBird | Thanks, Ed]

  • Mapping the drug wars in Mexico

    February 1, 2012  |  Mapping

    Drug War Map

    Diego Valle-Jones maps homicides and trafficking routes in Mexico.

    To unclutter the map and following the lead of the paper Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War by Melissa Dell, I decided to only show the optimal highways (according to my own data and Google Directions) to reach the US border ports from the municipalities with the highest drug plant eradication between 1994 and 2003 and the highest 2d density estimate of drug labs based on newspaper reports of seizures. The map is a work in progress and is still missing the cocaine routes, but hopefully I'll be able to add them shortly.

    There's lots to look at and interact with here. To start, there are bubbles that cluster homicides by region and major highway routes in black.

    Click on any bubble and you get a time series for the corresponding area, going back to 2004. Or if you like, draw your own polygon to see the time series for specific regions. Pointers on the time series highlight significant events. There's also a slider that lets you see numbers on the map for different years. A layer underneath the bubbles lets you see high density areas for marijuana, opium, and drug labs.

    Take a look at the full map for yourself. This is nice work by Valle-Jones.

    [Diego Valle-Jones | Thanks, Diego]

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