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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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Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Spatial Analysis, Visualisation | 2 comments

In Maps We Trust

In Maps We Trust

Of all the different types of data visualisation, maps* seem to have the best reputation. I think people are much less likely to trust a pie chart, for example, than a map. In a sense, this is amazing given that all maps are abstractions from reality.  They can never tell the whole truth and are nearly all based on data with some degree of uncertainty that will vary over large geographic areas. An extreme interpretation of this view is that all maps are wrong- in which case we shouldn’t bother making them. A more moderate view (and the one I take) is that maps are never perfect so we need to create and use them responsibly – not making them at all would make us worse off. This responsibility criterion is incredibly important because of the high levels of belief people have in maps. You have to ask: What are the consequences of the map you have made? Now that maps are easier than ever to produce, they risk...

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Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Featured Maps, R Spatial, Slideshow, Visualisation | 22 comments

Mapped: British, Spanish and Dutch Shipping 1750-1800

Mapped: British, Spanish and Dutch Shipping 1750-1800

I recently stumbled upon a fascinating dataset which contains digitised information from the log books of ships (mostly from Britain, France, Spain and The Netherlands) sailing between 1750 and 1850. The creation of this dataset was completed as part of the Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans 1750-1850 (CLIWOC) project. The routes are plotted from the lat/long positions derived from the ships’ logs. I have played around with the original data a little to clean it up (I removed routes where there was a gap of over 1000km between known points, and only mapped to the year 1800). As you can see the British (above) and Spanish and Dutch (below) had very different trading priorities over this period. What fascinates me most about these maps is the thousands (if not millions) of man hours required to create them. Today we churn out digital spatial information all the time without thinking, but for each set of coordinates contained in these maps a ship and her crew had to sail there and someone had...

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Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in Featured Maps, Resources, Visualisation | 5 comments

The Power of Comparison: Just How Big Is It?

The Power of Comparison: Just How Big Is It?

  If I said a country was 1594719800 metres squared it would mean a lot less to you than if I said it was about the size of Greater London (so long as you know about how big Greater London is). For this reason the media tend to report the extent of a flood in relation to the size of the Isle of Wight or Icebergs in relation to the size of Wales (or Luxembourg) so that we can imagine the extent and scale of a disaster or news story. Despite plenty of comment on how ridiculous such comparisons are, and a great website that will convert standard measurements into the fractions or multiples of the size of Wales, I am yet to see a mapped representation of our increasingly standard units of area. The one I produced above is not meant to be definitive, just a starting point to what I hope will be a new system to replace the metric measures we are used to*. A much more effective...

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2011 in Featured Maps, Surnames, Visualisation | 0 comments

My Week in Maps

My Week in Maps

This week has been a busy one with the “publication” of a couple of maps I have been involved with alongside the circulation of a few cartographic gems. I thought I would share my mapping highlights. To have something published in the National Geographic is a great honour. The map of US Surnames has proved hugely popular and was a great project to work on. A real high point in my PhD research so far. The popularity of a London version of the US Surname Map outstripped all expectations with 10s of thousands of visitors. Cartographically less impressive than the US map but much more detailed, I think the main thing people are most surprised (and perhaps disappointed about) is just how many “Smiths” there are! I’ve not quite worked out if this map shows anything surprising but I really like the cartography so “Profane Mountains, Polite Plains” gets a shout out here. It shows the frequency of swearwords in people’s Tweets across the US. This map of scientific collaborations...

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