I came across a startling map on Maps Mania today. Back in May 2013 Monica Stephens, and colleagues, published online maps showing twitter data that contained hateful words related to homophobia and racism. The message communicated by the maps is quite strong and shocking – racism and homophobia are extremely strong in the eastern half of the United States. The problem however is that these maps lie and are artifacts of poor cartographic methodology.
As I finish certain books I have often thought “I wish I had noted the path of the character so I can make a map of it.” I decided to do so for the novel by Jonas Jonasson titled The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. It turned out to be a rather good book to do this for as the character circles the globe a few times. The novel in itself is entertaining but lacks depth.
I created the map using QGIS after giving up trying to do something a bit fancier and dynamic with Odyssey.js. It turns out Odyssey.js is a gateway gimmick to attract people to trying CartoDB, the company that created Odyssey.js. To make any really interesting maps with overlays you need to serve your data from CartoDB. They have free accounts but I don’t wish to have my maps dependent on them when, as in this case, it simply isn’t necessary. CartoDB could have easily made it so you can embed your own lines and polygons. Only markers are possible.
Using QGIS unfortunately wasn’t as simple as I desired. I originally wanted to use an azimuthal equidistant map centred on Sweden but QGIS gets very buggy and cuts off portions of the map as well as breaking apart continents. I selected the North Pole instead. This was suitable as it is not so far away from Sweden. I edited the map in Illustrator because QGIS map editing is painful as well. The map I made has absolutely no finesse but I figured I had better post it as it is otherwise I may never get around to making a nicer version and sharing it.
My main lesson to anyone who wishes to do the same is to keep more detailed notes. I tracked the date and location as well as the page number it appeared on but never the mode of travel between data points. My motivation for making a map dwindled as I realized that I really should have noted the mode of transportation.
In the spring of 2011 I contacted the city of Luxembourg regarding obtaining data on their city bike share system, named vel’oh!, in order to use the data with the students I taught GIS to in the fall of 2011. Unfortunately no students showed interest in the data. I however dove into the data and did all sorts of spatial analysis and determined trends, statistics and visualizations to better understand the data. I was really only scratched the surface. With over 70 bike stations in the city, each one provides large possibilities for analysis. With my supervisor we met with the data donor from the city and presented our findings. During this meeting he asked me whether I thought certain stations required more bike locks/docks. Typically a station has 15-30 bike docks. The data I had could not address this question but I knew how to find the data in order to answer the question.
I have been pondering for some time what the result of displaying bar charts of latitude and longitude population distributions for countries would look like. A co-worker shared a site with city populations for the whole world. I finally managed to get around to creating a mashup of Google Charts and Maps.
I had mentioned my desire to revamp the map I made in 2003 regarding Olympics bidding and hosting world distribution. I found my old files and updated the data using aldaver.com. They have more precise information than olympics.org.
I expected it to be easy to greatly improve the design but found it actually rather difficult. The map does not have a large amount of information – especially in Africa which is in the centre of the map. It looks quite bare. The original had too much contrast so I darkened the oceans and countries who have never bid for an Olympic. I debated between lightening up the whole map but chose to stick with the pastel colour scheme. Using a colour matrix requires the difference between colours to be clearly visible. Besides thickening some lines and nudging elements around I also updated the map to contain the bidding and hosting information from 2008-2016. I did’nt feel there was too much I could do. Here is the updated Olympics Distribution Map.
(Very large size is available as well)
In my last year at the University of Victoria I completed a thematic map for a cartography course with Peter Keller. It was definitely one of the courses I most enjoyed in my degree. The course looked heavily at concepts from Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and Mark Monmonnier’s How to Lie with Maps.
For my final project I made a map of the world distribution of Olympic games as well as the finalists vying for the games. The age of the map is quite apparent since as of 2010 it omits Vancouver 2010, London 2012, Sochi 2014 in Russia, and Rio 2016 as well as the associated bids.
Looking back at it now I’m tempted to make changes. It looks so lifeless and sparse. I was quite proud of this map at the time in 2003 and actually won a prize by the Canadian Cartographic Association.