Cynthia Brewer profile

Posted to Maps  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

Wired wrote a short profile for Cynthia Brewer, best known for Color Brewer, a tool that provides visually apt color schemes for maps (and charts).

Brewer has been thinking about these issues since her graduate days at Michigan State. But the idea for Color Brewer grew out of a sabbatical she did with the U.S. Census Bureau, overseeing the atlas that accompanied the 2000 Census. “We were trying to be really systematic with color throughout the atlas,” she said. Other mapmakers liked the color sets they developed and began asking for them, and Brewer set up Color Brewer to make them more readily available.

If you’ve looked at thematic maps at all, you’ve likely come across a color scheme from Color Brewer. I wouldn’t say it’s ubiquitous quite yet, but it’s close. I just like how something so widespread came from a couple of people in a room who wanted to streamline the process of putting together the decennial atlas.

Favorites

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.