This afternoon I'll be taking part in a live chat with the moderator. It would be great to have the conversation be as lively as possible — take a look and join us! Come one, come all! The chat will be at 2pm Eastern.
What did Europeans actually discover during the Age of Discovery? According to American Indians, not much. But I've been curious about those isolated parts of the world that really were unknown to humans before the 15th century. So this weekend I went ahead and made a map of Europe's original contributions to geographical knowledge, as subject to peer review by the rest of humanity. It mostly shows a bunch of small islands and a whole lot of ice.
The take-away isn't just that humans had already spread around the world by the time that Europeans started looking for new trade routes and tropical riches. There's also an important lesson about the ability for non-Europeans to navigate vast distances and reach most of the world's islands first.
(Note that the research for this map was not always straightforward, as it required integrating present-day anthropology with sometimes-vague historical material. If you know something that I don't know, please let me know!)
Another quick weekend bonbon! I'm very pleased to post a map that Aaron Reiss made for Hannah Weyer's forthcoming novel On the Come Up. It shows the neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens, as seen by the central character in the book — it's something familiar, comfortable ... and isolated. (It's also a good contender for the best use of white space in all of New York City.)
For your weekend enjoyment, an indulgent exercise in nuance and beauty.
I picked four of the flattest areas I know (and love) and decided to make their flatness sing with the power of a thousand mountains. The result: a series of unfamiliar and wondrous microtopographical landscapes.
Now let's go climb some imperceptible cliffs!
Oop! I thought of another question.
What's the biggest city in the United States — New York? Los Angeles? How about ... Anchorage! After spending an evening exploring the politics of metropolitan annexation and city–county mergers, I made a quick series of maps of the inkblot patterns of municipal limits — all in comparison to Rhode Island, naturally.
I've also been interested in the contrast in identity-space between the geographically large cities of Texas, Arizona, or Southern California and geographically small cities like San Francisco, Boston, or Washington DC. The contrasts can often be striking: only 8% of the residents of the Boston metro area actually live in Boston proper, while almost two-thirds of the metro residents of San Antonio live within the city limits. Do geographically larger cities enjoy more civic-mindedness, in addition to a wider tax base? My gut says yes, but I'm afraid I don't have any actual evidence yet.
Happy spring! It's a beautiful day for maps. I have three questions for you.
1. Where's the Midwest? I went searching, and the results are in.
2. Where's my family from? After a few months of getting dorky with old governmental records, I have some answers.
3. What's for lunch? Animals? Plants? Fungi? Algae? It's a cornucopia of Darwinian delights. (I suppose these aren't really maps in the geographic sense. But perhaps we can see them as maps of time?)
My eight-year-old niece just asked me how many times people in France kiss each other when they say hello. I remembered a fun web-survey project from a few years ago, but I thought that the maps shown on the web simplified the data too much, with each administrative département shaded a solid color — the tyranny of the majority! So I did a quick redesign using the same data, and voilà, we can now see the regionality of French greetings with much more nuance.
The sensibility here is similar to my otherdotmaps, but by doing a bit of math I found a way for ArcGIS to make smooth pointilist color mixes. The result is a hybrid of dot map and choropleth that seems quite promising for this kind of discrete data.
Whew, it's been a while! Teaching has kept me busy, but now it's time for an update.
I'm very pleased to present a project by Daren Keene, who has been drawing a magical sprawling imaginary city using only a pencil and dozens of 8½" × 11" sheets of paper. Appropriately enough, he's named his city Pencilvania. Daren's maps share a sensibility with the well-known project by Jerry Gretzinger, but the aesthetic is quite different. Daren's maps mix high-tech, organic, and topographic forms into an incredibly detailed landscape that seems to oscillate between cartographic verisimilitude and pure abstraction. Start exploring!
First, I made some similar maps for the Bay Area showing race and ethnicity, poverty, and education. Standard solid-color statistical maps are especially problematic in areas where there's a huge contrast between sparsely populated and dense areas, as is in many western American cities.
A motley collection of updates to help us through the winter!
First, Andrew and Brian Jones have done an amazing thing. After Brian saw my astronomical calendar for New Haven, his brother Andrew decided to write a program that could make similar calendars for any place in the world. It's great! I've helped with some of the code and written a front-end interface to put the script on the web — now you can make your own calendar with just a few clicks. We've included all sorts of options, including the option to just let the script do everything automatically. Enjoy! (And please let me know if you run into any bugs.)
Second, I'm very pleased to host a project from Roberto Casati, Magda Stanová, and Stéphanie Roisin on the typologies of blocks and islands in Venice. It's a simple idea taken far beyond the ordinary. And the colors! Signor Nolli would be proud.
And finally, I added a link to the wonderful work of Armelle Caron. Lovely!
Perhaps not exactly a geographic map, but it is a mediation on place: I've made a two-year calendar for New Haven, Connecticut that shows the intertwining rhythmicity of astronomical and cultural times, all of which depend on location.
Astronomically, this calendar is valid for four points on the earth, all in the United States (in Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska, and Nevada). With some easy modifications, however, it would apply to all points around the world at the same latitude, and could be used without much trouble a few degrees north or south as well.
One last little bonbon before I have to put things aside for a while. What would happen if the 48 contiguous states decided to traipse around the world, jumping from sea to sea in search of fun, excitement, and new markets? The cultural story is perhaps a bit too complex for a small online map, but the physiographic answer is here.
I've posted a quick update to my U.S. demographic maps. I changed from tract-level data to zip-code data (it seems a more intuitive metric), and added data for Alaska, Hawaii, and the populated U.S. Territories, and expanded my racial categories to include people who self-identify as multi-racial.
I also uploaded high-resolution files. Enjoy!
Nearly every U.S. city is radically (and disturbingly) segregated, with stark divides of race, ethnicity, and class. I've been playing with various ways to show these divisions, using graphics which are equally evocative, provocative, and rigorous. I've posted two new projects, showing two possibilities: one for Chicago, and another for New York.
In both projects I'm reacting in part against maps which show ethnic areas using solid homogeneous colors, often highlighting only the majority group — such as this Wikipedia map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or this New York Times map of Pashtuns in the Sulaiman Mountains. Not only do these maps fail to show local diversity or ethnic overlaps, but they visually reinforce the all-or-nothing logic of national territorial statehood that made the conflicts in question so intractable in the first place. These cases are crying out for new forms of mapping — mapping which could directly provoke new ways of thinking. (In other words, radical cartography to the rescue!)
I have high hopes of using such alternative cartographies to make a comparative series showing the morphologies of segregation across all major U.S. cities (something similar to my income donut project), but alas, for now I'm working on a city-by-city basis. In the meantime, see my wall maps of Phoenix for a different version of this same sensibilty.
As always, comments heartily solicited, and much appreciated!
A few years ago I made a physical atlas of the world. The goal was to take on the “general” reference atlas — I wanted to see if I could radicalize it a bit while still staying within the bounds of genre. I think the result was reasonably successful, and a big paper copy is now sitting on my shelf. But I quickly realized that I'd need a lot more time, and many more collaborators, to really make anything of it, and as a pulp-and-ink project it remains at the proposal stage. So why not post it to the web instead?
I'm very excited to be able to post a project by the Chicago artist Brett Ian Balogh. Brett does a lot of work with sound and space, and he's made a great series of maps showing how the geographies of the three major US megalopolises are inscribed in the invisible "Hertzian space" of the broadcast mass media. Take a look: Boswash, Chipitts, and Sansan. Reimagined government data strikes again!
Gems of pure beauty, found buried in a government website. I'm reformatting and reposting some USGS maps of planetary geology, for your health and enjoyment. They're lovely! Five rocks to choose from:
ganymede. My thanks to Micah Maltsberger for bringing these to my attention!
A big update! My old site layout was reaching the limit of expandability, making it almost impossible to add new projects. After a thorough renovation of my interface, including new organization of projects into multiple categories, I'm finally able to upload all the various maps I've made this last year.
Most of my energy has been directed to paper maps and exhibition material of various kinds:
1, Here are some wall maps of Phoenix that I'm quite happy with; the goal was to push conventions about land management and social statistics in ways that ask new questions about stewardship and segregation. I presented these maps a few weeks ago as part of the "Remapping the Desert" series sponsored by the Future Arts Research program at Arizona State University.
2, In the May issue of National Geographic are some maps of mine accompanying an article about mapping and territorial claims in the Arctic Ocean. I've posted some unpublished studies of climate, oil, changingterritorial claims, and revisions to the map of the Arctic seafloor. The biggest thing to notice here is that the traditional idea that countries are bounded by a "hard shell" of a single perfect boundary is being revised even as I type; under the UN Law of the Sea, there is now a feathered edge of different maritime rights at different distances from shore.
3, Another wall map, just for kicks: world railways! I'm also inching my way towards tackling a world map in earnest; this is my first foray into some of the thorny issues of distortion, continuity, and conventions at the global scale.
4, Last spring I renovated my maps of American agriculture for an exhibition at the Harvard Graduate School of Design; they're a big improvement over the old ones, not least because data from the 2007 census is a lot cleaner than the 1997 data. I also made a quick animation of world cropland since 1700 for the same exhibit, based on data from agricultural geographers.
Ahoy! A few little bonbons after a bit of a hiatus:
1, I lived in Washington DC this summer, and made a series of demographic maps to help myself get oriented. Take your pick: race, poverty, income, education, violence, or theft! Although it does take a while to find them, there are indeed cracks in the dichotomies of white and black, rich and poor.
2, Some more cheap fun with histograms, this time for Mars and the Moon alongside the earth.
3, Everyone loves intermodal transport. I’ve posted part of a pamphlet I did for a longshore workers’ union showing the NAFTA intermodal network. And it's for sale! (All proceeds support the non-profits that sponsored the project.)
4, A train leaves Chicago heading north at 50 mph. A second train leaves Green Bay going south at 45 mph. They pass each other along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. Quick — how far away is the horizon?
Finally, I’m pleased to announce that a few of my maps have been included in Daniel Tucker’s traveling map archive, which is part of the Experimental Geography exhibition curated by Nato Thompson. Right now it’s on display at the DePauw University art museum, and will be moving around the U.S. through 2010. Included are poster versions of my cities, reservations, and The Cargo Chain. If you happen to be heading through central Indiana any time soon, stop by and check it out!
Also! With some friendly help, I have succeeded in finally setting up an RSS feed for those who would like notification when new things are added to the site. There should be an RSS link in your browser’s address bar, or you can just click here to subscribe. And feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or problems! (I’m still learning how this works.)
Continuing the fun I had with histograms, I made a series of graphs showing how the U.S. population is distributed by density, according to race and ethnicity, age, income, gender and family, and land area. For the most part these graphs just offer quantitative confirmation of some patterns that I’ve always assumed to be true, but they make it possible to pinpoint exactly which densities are inflection points. They also avoid the problem of trying to decide where, for example, "New York City" ends and something else begins; by looking at all fifty states together, the edges of the city become an demographic question, not a political one.
Given infinite time, I would love to do similar analysis for different regions, or compare the U.S. to other countries. Time, however, is not infinite, and I must set these questions aside for now. But if you know of others who have done similar work, definitely let me know!
It’s springtime! An assortment of new offerings:
I’ve had some fun recently using my terrestrial software to map the stars. Mostly I’ve just been playing around, but I made a quick series comparing the various ways that Chinese, Greek, and modern Western astronomers have carved up the sky. I’m continuing to play with other systems from Indian (really, Vedic), Egyptian, and Islamic astronomy; perhaps I’ll be able to add to the series.
One thing I’m not yet satisfied with: a better solution for the Greek sky would be to show the outline drawings from the Farnese, Mainz, or Kugel globes (the only ancient Greek graphics that survive), since connect-the-dot line patterns weren’t used in the West until the nineteenth century (the earliest I’ve found so far is 1831). But there don’t seem to be the right kinds of photos available, and using images from an early modern atlas seems problematic. Alas.
And voilà! A new wall map of the territory of the United States, equal parts a presentation of territories and a meditation on the idea of “territory.” It’s a wall map. I’ve been making wall maps lately, and finding the information density quite satisfying. I decided not to retool this map for easy web viewing, since that would be another project.
And why not a reference table of common map projections? There are plenty of sites out there that give good explanations of all manner of projections; my table is meant mostly as a cheat-sheet to see what can be done with ArcGIS.
And thanks to Neil for provoking a new version of the "US Empire" map, with a lot more data on military installations. I threw in a little mouseover as well, just for kicks. There are definitely still a lot of bases not on the map (the US has something like 800 overseas installations), but it now shows everything over 10 acres or a budget of $10m — the DOD's own cut-off for line-item inventory. Bases and operations in the Middle East may be a bit inaccurate, but authoritative data is probably going to be a wee bit classified. Same is true for things like anti-drug radar stations in South America.
Some more fun with income distribution, this time as scale comparisons of cities' income hinterlands. My primary goal was to compare "donut" cities with "wedge" cities, though perhaps only urban theorists will be surprised to learn that not all cities are the same. But I'm also interested in the relative sizes of the "donuts" and the "wedges." I have no solid numbers, but it looks like poverty donuts all tend to have about a five-mile radius, regardless of the size of the city. Perhaps this is the practical limit for commuting without a car?
Did a big update to the Boston wall map showing income distribution. The idea being to make it look as much as possible like a "real" map, which only upon inspection reveals atypical information about the city. It's also very useful for cycling, planning beach outings, and exploring Old New England. Perhaps it even fills the need for a reasonable wall map of the city? If you'd like a full-size copy (36"x42"), let me know and I'll see what I can do.
I was a guest this afternoon on BBC Radio 4, talking about the history of time zones and the time-zone map. Have a listen! It's about 15 mintues long.
Having received some complaints about a wonky interface, I've also redone all the code for the site. Everything should work better now. Let me know if something doesn't seem right.
As a follow-up to some of my thoughts about how to map minority population distributions, I did a quick series for Wikipedia showing the distribution of (self-reported) whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, American indians and Alaska natives, and native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders. You can find them on my wikipedia user page.
Tying up a loose end by adding a series showing all the annexations to the city of Boston, from the addition of South Boston in 1804 to Hyde Park in 1912. Even though this makes the "Boston Figure/Ground" page much more about expansion that figure and ground, that's how it will remain for now.
For Valentine's Day I'm posting an incredible collection of maps from our academic friends in cultural geography, a two-volume set of Scratch Atlases for an atlas of North American culture in the 1970s. The atlases are posted here with the permission of some of the orginal editors (all those I could locate who responded to my inquiry), under the assumption that they will not be used for commercial purposes.
I'm also putting up a map of roads in vancouver, color-coded by naming convention. And here's a shout-out to Nola, for whom I made the map.
Manhattan! I'm not sure I've got quite the right metric, but I'm trying to evaluate the real estate market and see the effect of government intervention, both through zoning and through publicly financed projects (everything from city hall to housing projects). So a three-map series: Building Heights, Land Value, and what I'm calling Underdevelopment. I know tax assessment data is funny business, and doesn't actually measure "value" in the typical sense, but hopefully the general patterns are still valid. If you're an economist and know something I don't, e-mail me.
Here's a quick figure/ground map of Boston; a pretty version and an informative version in mouseover relation (i'll let you decide which is which). They still need a bit of work, but I don't quite know where to take them just yet. And here's a quick map of the British Empire in 1921.
Added maps of greater Boston's income distribution and Megalopolises in the United States. Bigger maps mean more big files and high-res TIFs, but hopefully everyone has broadband by now anyway? I don't know how I feel about all these GIS-inflected maps just yet.. it seems that too many decisions are already made. But there's no other way to get shloads of data onto a small area of your screen. Alas.
Added a map of my Berlin as I lived it this summer. A couple of my big bikerides go outside the limits of the 18-mile square, but it doesn't seem worth rethinking the series all over again, especially since there's the nagging issue of Houston "Bush" Intercontinental Airport, which I visited pretty regularly in Houston, but is like 30 miles from the rest of the map. Right now it's a big purple arrow. And such it will stay.
AHAH! Work has kept me away for quite a while, but it is time for an update. First, and most exciting, I finally changed the domain name from the discordant www.radicalcartography.org to the more appropriate www.radicalcartography.net! How exciting.
Posted Jacob Shell's thoughts and proposal for the future of the Boston T.
The question is one of density, and of what a mass transit system is for (and what the difference is between train, bus, car, commuter rail..).
No doubt there's more to be done.. stay tuned.
And lo! The show got some ink. Scroll to the bottom.
There will be a RADICAL CARTOGRAPHY show this week at the Adams House Artspace at Harvard. Come one come all! Thursday, November 13th, 7-9 pm. Here is a map to the space. Email me with questions.
Okay, so I think I'm going to keep my anality at bay and keep the existing domain, perhaps changing it when this one expires. It's only like eight dollars, I know, but the line must be drawn somewhere, no?
Perhaps I was also being too optimistic about the whole "other people besides me will have things to contribute" aspect of the site.. I think I'm becoming more comfortable with it just as my site, and not trying to make it into some warm fuzzy e-commune.