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Posted by on Mar 29, 2015 in London, Visualisation | 0 comments

Burger Cartography

Burger Cartography

  I enjoy burgers and have a passion for maps and mapping, which is probably why Andrew Hill’s recent blog post “In Defense of Burger Cartography” offered a sufficiently large piece of bait for me to bite on and respond to (I join Kenneth Field and Taylor Shelton [and others, I am sure] in his cartographers’ keepnet) . In summary, the post says its time to “fall in love with maps all over again” thanks to a “new world of cartography” that has been liberated from old world critiques. I agree with many of Andrew’s points – it’s good to make it easy for people to make maps, traditional cartography can seem a bit crusty in this “new age” of so-called “Big Data” and web mapping, the more people who enjoy maps the better etc. etc. – but I have a few thoughts of my own to add. Firstly, I’m all for “exploratory playfulness” but I am more for thinking critically. Twitter maps are a key example in Andrew’s post – why get hung up...

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in London, Visualisation | 0 comments

OpenStreetMappers of London

OpenStreetMappers of London

This is a slightly edited cross post from Oliver O’Brien’s Suprageography blog. It offers a behind the scenes look at one of the graphics we created for the opening essay in London: The Information Capital. From Ollie: I contributed a number of graphics to LONDON: The Information Capital, a book co-written by Dr James Cheshire, also of UCL Geography. Two of my graphics that made it into the book were based on data from OpenStreetMap, a huge dataset of spatial data throughout the world. One of the graphics, featured in this post, forms one of the chapter intro pages, and colours all the roads, streets and paths in the Greater London Authority area (around 160,000 “ways” which are discrete sections of road/path) according to the person who most recently updated them. Over 1500 indivdual users helped create and refine the map, and all are featured here. I was pleased to discover I was the 21st most prolific, with 1695 ways most recently modified by myself at the time that...

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Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in London, Visualisation | 0 comments

London: The Open Data Capital

London: The Open Data Capital

This has been cross-posted from a guest blog post I wrote on the London Datastore. Throughout London’s history, its data have inspired innovative maps and visualisations from the likes of John Snow, William Farr, Charles Booth and Florence Nightingale, all of whom were truly pioneering in their communication of complex datasets throughout the 19th Century. A more recent and less well-known contribution to their legacy is the “Atlas of London and the London Region”, which takes pride of place in my office. Published in 1968 by Emrys Jones and Daniel Sinclair, it is a box containing 70 maps – each nearly a metre wide – that depict everything from London’s topography to the growth of the city and its overcrowded households. The atlas was six years in the making and the work required to produce it without widespread digital mapping tools must have been enormous. Inspired by London’s visualisation pioneers London: The Information Capital is a new book that I produced with designer Oliver Uberti. Although it is more modest in terms...

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in London, R Spatial, Visualisation | 7 comments

Improving R Data Visualisations Through Design

Improving R Data Visualisations Through Design

When I start an R class, one of my opening lines is nearly always that the software is now used by the likes of the New York Times graphics department or Facebook to manipulate their data and produce great visualisations. After saying this, however, I have always struggled to give tangible examples of how an R output blossoms into a stunning and informative graphic. That is until now… I spent the past year working hard with an amazing designer – Oliver Uberti – to create a book of 100+ maps and graphics about London. The majority of graphics we produced for London: The Information Capital required R code in some shape or form. This was used to do anything from simplifying millions of GPS tracks, to creating bubble charts or simply drawing a load of straight lines. We had to produce a graphic every three days to hit the publication deadline so without the efficiencies of copying and pasting old R code, or the flexibility to do almost any kind of plot, the book would not...

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Featured Maps, London, Slideshow, Visualisation | 0 comments

London: The Information Capital

London: The Information Capital

I am pleased announce that London: The Information Capital will be published on the 30th October. It is a book bursting with maps and graphics about the world’s greatest city and the result of a year of intense work with designer Oliver Uberti. Inspired by London’s design, mapping and visualisation pioneers (think Booth, Snow, Beck) we have sought to paint a contemporary portrait of the city through its abundance of open data. We asked ourselves questions such as Which borough of London is the happiest?  Where are the city’s tweeting hot spots?   How many animals does the fire brigade save each year?  Which London residents have left their mark on history? Where are London’s most haunted houses (and pubs)? What makes London the information capital? and sought to answer them through data visualisation. The book contains over 100 full-colour spreads alongside some brief essays to introduce each of the 5 broad themes – Where we are, Who we are, Where we go, How we’re doing and What we like. We worked closely with our publisher...

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