Making better social media maps

Posted to Maps  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Location-based data from social media can be interesting to analyze and map, but there are a lot of inherent challenges with the data. The main one, which designers often ignore, is that it’s safe to make inferences straight from the tweets alone. That is, there’s an assumption that the data is representative of the real-life population when in fact there are a ton of social implications to consider. The folks at Floatingsheep, a team of geographers, know better. CityLab highlights some of the team’s work.

The problem with Twitter maps, then, isn’t that social media data is inherently flawed — it’s that the people who make them get lazy. “[When] you have these giant Twitter datasets — it’s very, very easy to get that view from above and let the data speak for itself and just sort of stop there,” says Poorthuis. “That’s not the right stopping point. You need to contextualize by looking at the data in more detail — the variables and dimensions combined with the local knowledge.”

“It’s 2015 now,” Poorthuis says. “It was cool and an engineering challenge to get these points on a map. But now it’s time to ask deeper and more meaningful questions.”

See also: Floatingsheep’s recently accepted paper on dealing with user-generated geographic information.

Favorites

Divorce Rates for Different Groups

We know when people usually get married. We know who never marries. Finally, it’s time to look at the other side: divorce and remarriage.

Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores

A closer look at the age old question of where there are more bars than grocery stores, and vice versa.

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2015

These are my picks for the best of 2015. As usual, they could easily appear in a different order on a different day, and there are projects not on the list that were also excellent.

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.