Maps Finale

Finishing off Maps Lies & Storytelling with two maps – one two color map, and a final.  For my two color:

My first map in d3, required to be two only colors.  This shows all of the airports in the world, with nodes sized according to the elevation the airport exists at.  The larger dots end up showing the topology, with mountain ranges (notably, the Andes) visible.  Mouse hovering highlights the dot with a larger ellipse, as shown below, and you can pan/zoom.  I’d like to refine the aesthetic more, and focus on some better interaction, but it’s ok for a first d3 map.  The map lives here.  Code is below.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.26.02 PM


I abandoned my ebola map plan out of frustration with inconsistent data and a lack of inspiration to make a good map.  I turned back to some social data-inspired map making, exploring the community of people talking about chemtrails on instagram.  I used python to access the instagram API, found 270k posts using the tag #chemtrails, then pulled the most recent 3.3k posts.  I filtered those results by those who had listed location data.  Various filtering and parsing left me with some lists and dictionaries that I could then make into a network graph using the networkx library.  Nodes represent user posts, with the node size mapped to the number of posts they had. The edges represent relationships between users using the same hashtags, colored by modularity class.

I highlighted the most prominent users, displaying their name, followers, following and post counts.  Code is at the bottom of the post.


d3 map code:
 chemtrails code:

Concealing Truth Map



“Create a map that conceals a relevant truth.”

I mapped New York City as a national park.  Following color scheme and layout from park maps, I wanted to play off the “urban jungle” idea, and imagine New York as a literal jungle, where you take a trip, hike, backpack, camp, etc.  The boundaries of the “park” and the water are accurate, but infrastructure of any kind is hidden.  I mapped a few short trails, using data collected from my OpenPaths account this past week. Routes and points of interest lie in two main sections of the park, separated by river.  Maybe there’s a bridge across, or tunnel underneath, or maybe you need to canoe.  The visitor will have to uncover those surprises for themselves.

Deceiving Maps

“Find three existing maps:  One that shows an example of a lie told about space; Another that lies buy the author probably didn’t realize that it did; A third that is a clear distortion of the truth.”


A lie told about space:

A map of Queenstown, NZ from a tourist guide, purportedly showing the steepness of the streets in the city.  The legend shows the streets are divided into three categories: gently sloped, steeper, and very steep.  They are color coded, and appear to have an arbitrary angle associated with each.  While images of the city show it on a hillside with varying degrees of steepness, it’s pretty evident this map is inaccurate.  The streets clearly have more than 3 grades, and the grades shows on the map don’t appear to be matched to real life.


Unrealized lie by author:

This is a map showing the size of the United States relative to the moon.  I’m going to guess the author looked up the circumference of the moon and got a map of the contiguous United States, and tried to drag and scale it before photoshopping it onto the moon surface.  In their effort to get the effect of the states wrapping around the curved surface of the moon, their photoshop got sloppy and they clearly distorted the US, which is very noticeable when looking at Texas.  I doubt it was intentional or malicious; rather the work of an amateur mapmaker trying to make a graphic to put online.  It gets it’s point across, but does lie about the exact dimensions.

Clear distortion of the truth:

This map was famously featured on the front cover of the New Yorker, intending to show the way New Yorkers view the rest of the world.  It’s meant to say that people from New York don’t care about the rest of the world.  Anything past the Hudson river is basically viewed as insignificant, with 3000 miles represented as the same size as a city block.  China, Japan and Russia were somewhat laid out correctly, but again no scale or size is very accurate.  While it’s clearly satire, it’s still a map, and is still representing blatant lies about space.

Cartodb Map


Our other assignment for Maps was to make a SYNMAP using markers.  Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues getting the images to load in carto, and honestly just couldn’t ever get it to work.  I made a different map though.  The map above highlights populated areas and coastlines.  It demonstrates large areas where people flock to the coast.  The borders of countries are quite faint, mostly passed over in this map.  But borders of land and sea, not often thought of as a border in the more traditional sense, is brought to our attention.  They separate heavily-populated areas from the dark emptiness of the ocean.  Clusters of people spanning state and country borders are visible as the lights indicating their presence snake across the landscape.

Map of a Day




This is a map of a day.  August 16, 2014 to be exact.  For Maps, Lies and Storytelling, we were assigned to make a map of our day, which centered on our chosen research topic for the semester.  My topic is “borders,” and this map expands on that.  I mapped my activity on two levels – within my apartment, and throughout the city.  The apartment mapping shows my path through the apartment in an architectural drawing I did from observation, not an official drawing.  Boundaries and scale are certainly skewed, and my walking path shows common avenues in the apartment.  It also demonstrates the areas I don’t enter – the closed borders if you will.

Meanwhile the city map shows my round trip from the apartment to several locations in Manhattan, spanning several hours and three counties.  Borders on a map, but crossed without notice in person.  Due to recreating a vector map of the city from a png, touchups in Illustrator proved necessary along the borders to smooth out the effects of live tracing.  Thus, the borders are wholly inaccurate, and the locations of stores were approximated.  My apartment isn’t exactly where the star is, but it’s somewhere near there.  The precision is lacking, but the story is evident, and doesn’t rely on the exact locations.