PAC-MAN: The End of March Mapness

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Well we've come to the end of March. I was too busy the past few weeks to keep the high pace of map posts up, but I think we had a few gems. Next year we'll do even better!

For the final post this month, I'm tipping my hat to Google who have created the best map of the month. Starting today, you can play PAC-MANin your browser using Google Maps!

No seriously, try it!


When you go to Google Maps today (and tomorrow, I'd wager), You'll see a PAC-MAN utton. Click that anywhere and you're ready to play on your local streets

This feels a lot like the in-browser version of PAC-MAN that Google featured as a "Doodle" on May 21, 2010 in celebration of PAC-MAN's 30th anniversary. 

Happy April 1st.

When Map Projections Go Awry

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One constant irk I have with online map tools such as the venerable, decade old Google Maps, is that the projection is fixed. Most online mapping applications use what's known as "Web Mercator" for their projection.

This works great for most all of my driving and walking around needs!

This doesn't work great for my exploring the world from my couch tasks...

As a simple example:

In this image Greenland is twice the size of the USA. In reality, the USA is about 5x larger than Greenland!

Hilarious side note: I put this post in the blog-queue 2 days ago, yet IFLScience posted almost the exact same article as this yesterday... whoa. Kinda neat!

Maps about Coffee Locations

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Besides maps, one of my favorite topics to study on this website is coffee!

Here's a simple map I made by overlaying locations of coffee shops onto a map of the UW campus, and drawing some simple circles. What it shows is the walking distance to coffee shops around campus, and that the entire UW campus is covered within a 2-minute walking time! [original post]


Next we extend this idea, and look at coffee shops around the country. Below is a map of the distribution of Starbucks stores in the US. The wire mesh is a triangulation that enables us to find the lowest Starbucks density point, which is around 140 miles from the nearest Pumpkin Spice Latte! [original post]

Finally, here's a really neat series of interactive maps by the MIT Media Lab, showing coverage maps of independent coffee shops in several major cities throughout the US. Below I'm showing a screenshot of the map for Portland, OR. [original post]

Mapping Road Trips

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Randy Olsen, moderator of /r/dataisbeautiful, created a great map project about a week ago, which I thought I would the start week 3 of March Mapness off with!

Here is a map of the "Optimal Road Trip", which visits major landmarks in every one of the lower 48 states in the US, as solved by a genetic algorithm:

Randy has an awesome blog post about the project, and includes a live version of the map you can interact with! Check it out here, or follow Randy on Twitter for a near-constant stream of awesome data visualization!

Maps in D3.js

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Today I want to highlight maps using D3.js, the amazing javascript library for "data-driven documents" that powers a ton of the web-based visualization landscape these days!

This is a screenshot from a really neat animated map by Ben Dilday that draws the USA over time, with each state popping in to existence the year it joined the union. Go click on this link to check out the animated original source!
click for the animated source!

Of course, one can't talk about data visualization in D3 without mentioning the incomparable Mike Bostock, it's creator. His work is amazing (check out this awesome gallery). In particular here's a few animated or interactive maps he's created that stand out:
What I love about these javascript/D3 examples is that you can learn so much by just pulling them apart for your own purposes. And of course, there is a rich tutorial section in the official D3 github repo. Go learn! Go create!

More Metro Madness

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Here's another great visualization of metro activity, this time it's Shanghai, created by the talented Till Nagel. More details of this awesome project can be found on his website.

Happy March Mapness!


Shanghai Metro Flow from Till Nagel on Vimeo.


found via Reddit's /r/dataisbeautiful, a community of 2.5million data visualization lovers!

iPhone thickness over time

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Yesterday Apple announced the new, super-duper thin MacBook. Thinness has been a metric of some obsession for the past 5 years for Apple (and many other companies), both in the notebook and mobile phone product lines. Perhaps it mirrors our society's anxiety about body image...

For me, a thin phone makes carrying the device constantly much more comfortable. (Massive screen size is not a big selling point for me) So I was curious, how has the iPhone shrunk since it's conception in 2007?

The figure above shows a nice steady trend towards thin... Using a linear extrapolation to this data, we can expect that sometime in 2023 Apple will announce an iPhone with a thickness of 0mm. That will be 16 years after the introduction of the device, so I project the product name will be approximately iPhone 17.

You heard it here first, folks!

Mapping the daily commute

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Here's a cool map Seth Kadish posted a couple days ago at Vizual Statistix. It shows the % of workers in counties who commute across state lines. [original post]

I'm especially interested in the area just north of Portland OR, which is Vancouver WA (not Vancouver BC). More than 30% of all the adult workers in Vancouver are heading over that I-5 bridge every day to work! Yikes!

The story is even more interesting on the east coast and in the south... check it out:

Thanks to Seth for sharing this, and again friends, be sure to subscribe to his great blog for many more cool maps and visualizations!!

Spinning Maps!

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Here's a fun recent map I made, using Python's Basemap toolkit. It was a good learning exercise for me, and I was happy to put the code online so others could learn from it. This data is simply the population density of the entire world, saved as a big (lat,lon) grid of values. [original post here]

I love spinning globes/maps for 2 reasons:

  1. They avoid most map projection nonsense about skewing or stretching data
  2. They remind me of the globe I had as a kid, which my brother and I would play with. I remember spinning it as hard as I could, and putting my finger down on random places in the world. I suspect this is a very common experience, and one of the most profound interactions you can have with a visualization....


World Population Density from James Davenport on Vimeo.


Here's another great spinning map, but this time not of Earth. This is the dwarf planet Ceres, and the map is made by stitching pictures together as it rotates. The awesome animation was made by my friend Dr Mike Solontoi! [original page here] Ceres has also been in the news lately because of mysterious bright dots that showed up in the middle of a crater (you can see them in the animation).

I love spinning maps of other worlds, because it makes them feel so much more like real places!


Finally, I can't talk about spinning maps of other worlds without my friend Dr Alex Parker's awesome maps of many extrasolar objects... he's got a whole blog post on spinning moons! [orignal post here] I've featured Europa here, because it looks so damn cool!




Maps of Destruction

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Today for March Mapness I am featuring a few maps about destruction

First, a map I created recently charting the locations of all the known volcanoes that have erupted are in the world. Each location is colored by the number of known eruptions. The  incredible "ring of fire" is visible around the pacific rim, with most volcanoes having erupted many times in the past. [original post]




Next is a map from Seth at the always amazing Vizual-Statistix, showing the distribution tsunami triggers worldwide. [original post]. Interestingly, this map seems to resemble the one I made of volcanoes! There's probably a science for that...
Seriously, go follow Seth's work if you're not already!


Speaking of tsunamis, I have mention this incredibly powerful visualization from 2011 about the devastating earthquakes that rocked Japan. I've posted about this video before, as it is one of the most simple and compelling data visualizations I've ever seen.



Finally today, a map of the Black Death plague. There are countless excellent maps on this subject, and the history of disease and data visualization are closely linked. For example, the Broad Street Pump, or Florence Nightingale.
Bubonic plague map


Mapping buses like little ants

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Here is one of my favorite maps I've generated for this blog: 24 hours of the King County (Seattle) Metro busses zipping about...

Happy day 3 of March Mapness!

[original post]

24 Hours of King County Metro from James Davenport on Vimeo.

Maps of Twitter

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Maps of Twitter users are fairly common now - but they are still amazing. Here is (a screenshot from) one of my favorites by the good folks at Mapbox [link to interactive map]
This is especially neat, since only a few % of Tweets are geocoded. To be included in this map, you have to Tweet using a device w/ GPS (like your phone) and opt-in to sharing your location. Enough people do to make this fascinating map!

Here is another awesome version by reddit user Kombutini showing Twitter activity over a 24hr period. [Link to original post]


And finally, here's one I made in 2013 showing the average readability or reading ease of Tweets across ZIP codes [original blog post]. It's mostly noise, showing no real trend in readability geographically. What I did find was a significant trend with the % of college graduates per ZIP code, such that ZIP codes with more college grads were Tweeting more complicated language. I thought it was interesting enough to write a short paper on it.

That is just 3 interesting maps of Twitter data, from thousands that have been made and shared online already. What consistently lights up my imagination is how data and social scientists working with companies like Twitter (and Facebook and Google) are using social media or search services, combined with geographic data, to study humanity. We might detect disease outbreaks, natural disasters, possibly intervene when people are feeling suicidal, or judge the mood of society on real issues. It's an amazing time we live in.

March Mapness

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Today I am proud to announce the beginning of something wonderful and silly:

For the entire month of March I will be publishing blog posts about Maps! As an homage to the famous college basketball tournament, I am calling it "March Mapness". This is an idea of staggering brilliance, and I want it to catch on for the whole data visualization blog-o-sphere. You heard it here first, folks: March is officially the new month of maps in the dataviz world!

I can't promise I'll actually post a map every day, but I will feature some classic map-based posts from years past on If We Assume, cross-post some great content from friends on other blogs, and maybe even generate some new awesome visualizations!

Stay tuned!

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