• US Oil Doesn’t Come From Where You Think it Does

    November 21, 2008  |  Data Sources, Mapping

    Where do you think the US imports the most oil from? Most of us would probably say somewhere in the Middle East, but Jon Udell does some number crunching and shows that misconception is false. Canada supplies us with the most oil (according to the US Department of Energy).

    This realization however, isn't the post's punchline. It's how easy it was for Jon to figure this stuff out. With some help from Dabble DB (an app that lets you easily use a database without too much technical fuss), Jon was able to parse the data and map it by region with a few swift clicks.

    We’re really close to the point where non-specialists will be able to find data online, ask questions of it, produce answers that bear on public policy issues, and share those answers online for review and discussion. A few more turns of the crank, and we’ll be there. And not a moment too soon.

    We're gettin' there.

    [Thanks, Tim]

  • Cotton Picking Correlates to President Picking

    November 19, 2008  |  Mapping

    The U.S. election is over. The post-election analyses begin. The above map shows presidential voting at the county level. The more red a county is, the stronger the support for John McCain and similar for Barack Obama and blue. Below is cotton production in 1860. Each dot represent 2,000 bales. That's some strong correlation. In fact, here is the election map with the cotton overlay:

    This of course is a case of strong correlation - not causation. That is to say, if you get your county to grow more cotton, it doesn't mean that you're increasing the probability that voters will sway towards Democrat. As Strange Maps points out, it is in fact a correlation to African-American population (of which 91% voted for Obama). There has been some migration during the post-slavery area, but families have largely settled in the areas their families before them grew up in.

    [via Strange Maps | Thanks, Albyn]

  • Alternative to Cartograms Using Transparency

    November 13, 2008  |  Mapping

    Alpha map

    The thing about cartograms is that it's hard to make out what you're seeing. You lose most sense of geography and size comparison is near impossible. They're more of a pretty picture than an analytical tool. Axis Maps proposes an alternative to cartograms, and the example of course uses presidential election data.

    Instead of morphing counties so that they are sized by area, Axis uses transparency or more accurately, alpha levels. Uh, wait, is that more accurate? Oh I dunno. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Anyways, as a result, counties with higher populations glow brightly and those with smaller populations fade into the darkness that is oblivion. I like it. More importantly though - what do you think?

    [via Cartogrammar]

  • Maps and Cartograms of 2008 Presidential Election

    November 10, 2008  |  Mapping

    Cartograms got a lot of coverage in 2004 when Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman used them to show the Bush/Kerry election results. Naturally, they've put together a similar series of (very red) maps and cartograms for the just past 2008 election.

    In case you're unfamiliar with cartograms, they're essentially maps with morphed areas according to some metric. The election series for example are adjusted for population, so that states are sized by population instead of physical area. The drawback of course is that after a certain point, the image starts to look a lot like a Pollock painting.

    [Thanks, Sara]

  • European Economic Weather Map – Sudden Change in Outlook

    October 31, 2008  |  Economics, Mapping

    In this map from the Financial Times, the state of Europe's economy is shown like a weather map. A cloud with a lightning bolt represents a "sudden change in outlook, outlook uncertain." There's nothing but gray skies ahead, I'm afraid. Oh, but wait, what's that? Cyprus has some sun peaking out over the cloud: "Clouds over growth with some sunny prospects." There is hope.

    [via The Big Picture | Thanks, Michael]

  • Map Shows Newspaper Endorsements in US Presidential Election

    October 29, 2008  |  Mapping

    newspapers

    Philip, from infochimps, maps newspaper endorsements using data from the Editor & Publisher's list. Circles with the blue radial gradient are newspapers that endorse Obama and John Kerry in 2004 while the red ones show McCain/Bush endorsements. The lighter blue circles are newspapers that endorse Obama, but actually endorsed George Bush in 2004. It's a similar encoding for the John McCain endorsements except in red and the flip being John Kerry. Circle size is newspaper's circulation.

    The only thing I found a little weird was that the Dem to Rep or Rep to Dem endorsements were represented with all blue or all red. It certainly makes the circles stand out - which was the point - but doesn't really indicate a flip. I had to mouse over the circle to find that out.

    [via FlowingData Forums | Thanks, mrflip]

  • United States Poverty Rates From 1980 to 2007

    October 15, 2008  |  Mapping, Projects

    Thousands of bloggers are taking the time to discuss a single topic today - poverty. As we sit in our cozy homes, go out to eat, watch movies, or simply read the news on a computer, it's easy to forget that there are millions of people around the world who aren't so well off. Blog Action Day is an opportunity to remember and to perhaps help out in some way.

    Mapping Poverty Rates

    I of course took the visualization route. What better way to get the facts than through data? The US Census Bureau provides lots of poverty estimates, so I took their data and mapped it over the last 27 years. I found it alarming to see that some states had a poverty rate over 20%. I clearly live in a cozy bubble. What does your state look like?

  • Commercial Air Traffic Seen Around the World

    October 8, 2008  |  Mapping

    Commercial air traffic

    This computer simulation (video below) by Zhaw shows worldwide commercial flights over a 24-hour period. It's been making the blog rounds lately. Watch as flights start in the morning in the western hemisphere, and as the sun starts to come up in the east, more flights begin in the east. I'm not sure if we're seeing actual GPS traces or just interpolated flight paths from point-to-point data, but my guess is the latter. Does anyone understand the language on Zhaw?
    Continue Reading

  • Maps for Advocacy – Beginner’s Guide to Mapping

    October 2, 2008  |  Mapping

    In a follow up to Visualizing Information for Advocacy, the Tactical Technology Collective recently announced Maps for Advocacy: An Introduction to Geographical Mapping Techniques.

    The booklet is an effective guide to using maps in advocacy. The mapping process for advocacy is explained vividly through case studies, descriptions of procedures and methods, a review of data sources as well as a glossary of mapping terminology. Scattered through the booklet are links to websites which afford a glance at a few prolific mapping efforts.

    While the example maps look very Googley and won't impress too many in the online mapping world, there are still some good links in there for data resources, terminology, and how maps play a role in displaying information.

  • We Don’t Know Jack About the World – Alisa Miller TED Talk

    October 1, 2008  |  Mapping

    Alisa Miller, President and CEO of Public Radio International, enlightens us on how little U.S. news coverage there is on the rest of the world. How does she do this? She uses maps of course. Miller uses visualization to tell a (short) story. She shows us all the coverage on Iraq and the lack of coverage on all other countries, which is practically nothing.

    The name of this type of morphed map escapes me right now. Maybe someone can remind me?

    [Thanks, Jodi]

  • OneGeology Wants to Be Geological Equivalent of Google Maps

    September 11, 2008  |  Data Sources, Mapping

    There's lots of free geographical data about what's going on at the surface of our planet. It's a different story for what going on underneath though. OneGeology aims to be the solution to that problem.

    OneGeology is an international initiative of the geological surveys of the world and a flagship project of the 'International Year of Planet Earth'. Its aim is to create dynamic geological map data of the world available via the web. This will create a focus for accessing geological information for everyone.

    I've never been one for the geology, but if the data (and interactive maps) were easily accessible, there certainly would be a peak in interest.

    [via msnbc | Thanks, Samantha]

  • See the World Through SimCity’s Eyes – One Up On OnionMap

    September 10, 2008  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Michael comments, "Onionmap is nothing when compared to this Chinese site...They've practically mapped out the entire Shanghai (and quite a few other China cities) in a SimCity-like fashion! Amazing stuff!" He's completely right. Edushi maps Shanghai with great detail. While OnionMap looks like Google Maps with SimCity sprinkles, Edushi is just straight up SimCity.

    Unfortunately my three years of Chinese classes in high school did me no good, and I don't understand a thing on the site. Maybe someone can translate and let us know what Edushi is all about. Chinese CitySearch?

    [Thanks, Michael]

  • How to Create a Real-Time Web Traffic Map for Your Site

    September 3, 2008  |  Mapping, Projects

    I was exchanging email with Rob a few days ago, and he brought up that I might see a slight boost in traffic from Australia because he had spread the word (thanks!) at a statistics conference. I immediately went over to Google Analytics, and indeed, there was an increase in traffic from the land down under.
    Continue Reading

  • Tracking Hurricane Gustav – How Hard is it Going to Hit?

    August 31, 2008  |  Mapping

    Stamen has taken a step towards the concrete with their recent Hurricane Tracker for MSNBC. From what I can tell, it updates every couple of hours or so. The tracker shows where Hurricane Gustav has been and where it's headed and provides information on wind speed, ground speed, and location.

    From the map we see a development from tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea, to a big category 4 over Pinar Del Rio, and then something between a category 3 and 2 as it moves over New Orleans. Gustav dwindles to a tropical storm as it moves towards Dallas. With mandatory evacuations of New Orleans starting yesterday, here's to hoping everyone finds somewhere safe to stay.

  • History’s Greatest Journeys – Wanderlust from GOOD

    August 25, 2008  |  Mapping

    GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Graham Roberts, maps the most famous journeys in history - some fiction, some non-fiction. Wanderlust includes trips like Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth to the voyages of Marco Polo and Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight. However, it's not just a map with journey lines on it; Wanderlust is a history lesson. Select a trip for a summary and explore highlights of the journey.

  • Britain From Above – Beautiful Use of Satellite Technology

    August 11, 2008  |  Mapping

    The BBC has a gorgeous documentary series that started yesterday -- Britain from Above. They take a look at Britain from the skies using satellite technology and GPS data. Watch patterns emerge as taxis, ships, and planes travel back and forth and information and data pass through Britain's national telephone network. The imagery is beautiful. I love visualization that brings data to life.

    The high-resolution videos don't seem to be working right now, but here's just a small sample:

  • It’s Like Google Maps with Sim City 2000 – OnionMap

    August 7, 2008  |  Mapping

    Remember SimCity 2000? That was a great game. That was probably the last computer game I played for any significant length of time, and if my Macbook Pro were able to read 5-inch floppies, I'd totally pop it in and build myself a city called Yau Town.

    Put the look of SimCity 2000 together with Google Maps, and you get OnionMap. Most of the site is in Korean, but from what I gather it aims to be something of a tourist guide with a little bit of social network mixed in. That part of OnionMap is a little fuzzy, but it was worth the five minutes for the maps.

    [Thanks, Tim]

  • Watching Our Twitter World – twittervision Redux

    July 28, 2008  |  Mapping, Projects, Software

    I've always liked twittervision. I'm not sure what it is, but it's strangely mesmerizing, getting a tiny peak into others' lives. This weekend, I recreated twittervision with a little bit of style for good measure. Say hello to Twitter World.

    The Data

    Twitter World shows updates from the Twitter public timeline, and makes use of the twittervision API for location. Until I get whitelisted for the Twitter API, I'm polling Twitter and twittervision every six minutes to keep things fresh. Hopefully neither putters out.

    The Implementation

    Like my visualization showing the spread of Walmart, I used Modest Maps (+ OpenStreetMap) to map things out, and I used TweenFilterLite to animate. I had all the gears in place and everything working nicely a couple of hours in - but that was with a flat XML file. The hard part was feeding the thing live data and then making sure everything was synchronized. That took, um, too much time.

    In any case, not bad for a weekend project.

    PS. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter :)

  • Mapping Walkability in San Francisco

    July 24, 2008  |  Mapping

    Lee Byron, recent Carnegie Mellon grad and newly inducted New York Times graphics intern, maps walkability in San Francisco. He scraped Walk Score for uh, walk scores, which are scores from 0-100 based on the amenities around a location like "nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc" - how easy it is to live without a car.

    Color was calculated on a per pixel basis using bicubic interpolation. From there he let Processing do the graphical labor to construct a map overlay. The result, which is accurate to the block, is a pretty one.

    If you want data (sans map) for your own neighborhood, Lee has kindly provided the scraper.

  • Mapping Economic Activity for the World

    July 14, 2008  |  Economics, Mapping

    The G-Econ (Geographically-based Economic data) group has worked on making economic data publicly available via Gross Cell Product (GCP). In other words, they've collected data for each 1x1 degree latitude by longitude cell on the globe. Above is a cell-by-cell globe mapping world population. Here's one that shows world rainfall.

    Check out more of these pretty world maps posted to the G-Econ Flickr photo set.

Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.