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Screenshot from: The Bold Italic/Lovely - Where Can You Afford to Live in the Bay Area? (2013)
An unmap. Look at the full original: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/3202-where-can-you-afford-to-live-in-the-bay-area
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Map Critique: Serge Seidlitz/Red Lobster - Everybody Loves Endless Shrimp
I originally was just going to post this map with a few stray thoughts, but as I kept looking at the map I kept discovering more and more compelling things to remark on. So, I am bumping this post up to full-on Map Critique level, which is nice because I haven’t done any in a good long while.
A good map critique should start with an explanation of who made the map, and why. This one may speak for itself in that regard, though. The map was commissioned and published by the Red Lobster restaurant chain as part of a social media content strategy (see also this infographic [shrimp-ographic?]). It was designed by worldly Illustrator Serge Seidlitz, whose portfolio includes an impressive body of cartographic-related design. 
Now, onto the map itself. This is one of the most fascinating maps I’ve ever encountered, for multiple reasons.
First, we have to examine the symbology, which in this case is graduated symbols (graduated shrimp-bols?), with changes in saturation and value, for effective redundancy. A cursory glance at the geographic distribution, and… what do we have here? Yes! This data isn’t normalized: it’s a raw count of shrimp lovers, making this one of the more exotic maps to demonstrate the furry pornography problem.
Upon closer inspection, though, there is actually even more to the data representation than what it looks like. What do the number and placement of the shrimps mean? At first, I figured it was just arbitrary, but there are some weird specifics visible in the data: mainland Michigan appears to be in the high-shrimp lovers category, while the upper peninsula is medium-shrimp. There’s a large shrimp that seems to encapsulate both southern California and Arizona, which… wait a minute… Arizona supposedly has 481 shrimp lovers, but it’s surrounded by shrimp in the ‘1,000-2,000’ shrimp lovers category. The same disparities exist for Washington, Illinois, Georgia, and Florida, the last of which actually has a number of shrimp lovers that exceeds the upper bounds of the legend.
What on earth is the provenance between the original data and its graphical representation? 

Amusingly, the best way to fully account for the disparity is to assume this isn’t a choropleth, but rather that the specific locations of shrimp lovers have been aggregated up into arbitrary geographical units. This is an increasingly popular cartographic technique called binning. I have no clue if that is what actually is occurring here… and given the source and purpose of the map I humbly doubt it. But it is amusing to consider. Incidentally, data bins are sometimes referred to as ‘buckets’, and rest assured that I have already delighted at the prospect of making a ’buckets of shrimp' joke.

Let me make something clear: Cartographers love to sit on our high-horses and pick on poor data representation, which is not something I want to perpetuate. It’s an illustrated map of shrimp lovers, I don’t think anyone expected incisive statistical analysis. But nevertheless I’m always interested in case studies of data representation, and maps like these offer very teachable moments.
Closing with a few non-data related thoughts, it stands to say that this is a very attractively designed map. Striking color palette, nice layout, and a hip aesthetic that doesn’t even feel too “chart-toon”ish.
By far, though, you gotta love how this map is honest. All maps try to sell us something: usually, they try to sell us on a cause, or try to sell us on an idea, or just try to sell us that what’s on the map is the inarguable geographic truth. And we have developed an entire visual ecosystem that helps transform the map into a salesperson.
This map isn’t trying to sell you on a geography, though: it’s trying to sell you (endless) shrimp. And it never pretends that it’s doing anything other than trying to sell you endless shrimp. There’s the corporate logo, front and center: down below are all the little testimonies, and out in the edges there’s little shrimps with Americana-themed marginalia, for crying out loud. Behold, a map that may finally embody no subtle lies. No hidden biases. No bait-and-switch. There’s just shrimp.
Endless shrimp.

Map Critique: Serge Seidlitz/Red Lobster - Everybody Loves Endless Shrimp

I originally was just going to post this map with a few stray thoughts, but as I kept looking at the map I kept discovering more and more compelling things to remark on. So, I am bumping this post up to full-on Map Critique level, which is nice because I haven’t done any in a good long while.

A good map critique should start with an explanation of who made the map, and why. This one may speak for itself in that regard, though. The map was commissioned and published by the Red Lobster restaurant chain as part of a social media content strategy (see also this infographic [shrimp-ographic?]). It was designed by worldly Illustrator Serge Seidlitz, whose portfolio includes an impressive body of cartographic-related design

Now, onto the map itself. This is one of the most fascinating maps I’ve ever encountered, for multiple reasons.

First, we have to examine the symbology, which in this case is graduated symbols (graduated shrimp-bols?), with changes in saturation and value, for effective redundancy. A cursory glance at the geographic distribution, and… what do we have here? Yes! This data isn’t normalized: it’s a raw count of shrimp lovers, making this one of the more exotic maps to demonstrate the furry pornography problem.

Upon closer inspection, though, there is actually even more to the data representation than what it looks like. What do the number and placement of the shrimps mean? At first, I figured it was just arbitrary, but there are some weird specifics visible in the data: mainland Michigan appears to be in the high-shrimp lovers category, while the upper peninsula is medium-shrimp. There’s a large shrimp that seems to encapsulate both southern California and Arizona, which… wait a minute… Arizona supposedly has 481 shrimp lovers, but it’s surrounded by shrimp in the ‘1,000-2,000’ shrimp lovers category. The same disparities exist for Washington, Illinois, Georgia, and Florida, the last of which actually has a number of shrimp lovers that exceeds the upper bounds of the legend.

What on earth is the provenance between the original data and its graphical representation? 

Amusingly, the best way to fully account for the disparity is to assume this isn’t a choropleth, but rather that the specific locations of shrimp lovers have been aggregated up into arbitrary geographical units. This is an increasingly popular cartographic technique called binning. I have no clue if that is what actually is occurring here… and given the source and purpose of the map I humbly doubt it. But it is amusing to consider. Incidentally, data bins are sometimes referred to as ‘buckets’, and rest assured that I have already delighted at the prospect of making a ’buckets of shrimp' joke.

Let me make something clear: Cartographers love to sit on our high-horses and pick on poor data representation, which is not something I want to perpetuate. It’s an illustrated map of shrimp lovers, I don’t think anyone expected incisive statistical analysis. But nevertheless I’m always interested in case studies of data representation, and maps like these offer very teachable moments.

Closing with a few non-data related thoughts, it stands to say that this is a very attractively designed map. Striking color palette, nice layout, and a hip aesthetic that doesn’t even feel too “chart-toon”ish.

By far, though, you gotta love how this map is honest. All maps try to sell us something: usually, they try to sell us on a cause, or try to sell us on an idea, or just try to sell us that what’s on the map is the inarguable geographic truth. And we have developed an entire visual ecosystem that helps transform the map into a salesperson.

This map isn’t trying to sell you on a geography, though: it’s trying to sell you (endless) shrimp. And it never pretends that it’s doing anything other than trying to sell you endless shrimp. There’s the corporate logo, front and center: down below are all the little testimonies, and out in the edges there’s little shrimps with Americana-themed marginalia, for crying out loud. Behold, a map that may finally embody no subtle lies. No hidden biases. No bait-and-switch. There’s just shrimp.

Endless shrimp.

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Screenshot from: Axis Maps - Jamaican Slave Revolt (2013)
A masterful interactive/animated map narrating a 1760 slave revolt. Functional and attractive web cartography that’s not afraid to get qualitative.
http://revolt.axismaps.com/map/

Screenshot from: Axis Maps - Jamaican Slave Revolt (2013)

A masterful interactive/animated map narrating a 1760 slave revolt. Functional and attractive web cartography that’s not afraid to get qualitative.

http://revolt.axismaps.com/map/

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Screenshot from: Julian Cole/Kristian Henschel - L Degrees (2013)
The temperature in New York City’s subway platforms is uniquely miserable.
This totally counts as a map, by the way.
http://www.l-degrees.com/

Screenshot from: Julian Cole/Kristian Henschel - L Degrees (2013)


The temperature in New York City’s subway platforms is uniquely miserable.

This totally counts as a map, by the way.

http://www.l-degrees.com/

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Twitter - The Geography of Tweets (2013)
Big data analytics finally demonstrate what we’ve suspected all along: people like to tweet from boats.
More maps from the source.

Twitter - The Geography of Tweets (2013)

Big data analytics finally demonstrate what we’ve suspected all along: people like to tweet from boats.

More maps from the source.

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Major Web Companies’ Data Centers (2013)
Click for the fullview.
If you like that linework of the U.S., it’s 100% free to download and use from Project Linework. And, in fact, that was the basic impetus for making this map: just something fun and simple to show off the linework, so it’s not the most earth-shattering in terms of data.
While researching the locations, though, I did come across some neat issues when it comes to the siting of data centers: state governments will give big breaks on property taxes for the luxury of attracting a data center to a rural community, even if the centers themselves produce a noxious amount of noise. Site selectors are also looking for places with lots of cheap, clean electricity, accounting for much of the data centers located in hydropower-rich regions. 

Major Web Companies’ Data Centers (2013)

Click for the fullview.

If you like that linework of the U.S., it’s 100% free to download and use from Project Linework. And, in fact, that was the basic impetus for making this map: just something fun and simple to show off the linework, so it’s not the most earth-shattering in terms of data.

While researching the locations, though, I did come across some neat issues when it comes to the siting of data centers: state governments will give big breaks on property taxes for the luxury of attracting a data center to a rural community, even if the centers themselves produce a noxious amount of noise. Site selectors are also looking for places with lots of cheap, clean electricity, accounting for much of the data centers located in hydropower-rich regions. 

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Sadahide Hashimoto - Fuji ryôdô ichiran no zu (Panoramic view of two ways to climb Mt. Fuji) (1859)
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Hans Werner - University of Wisconsin Visitor’s Map (1937)
A very amusing cartographic product lurking in my alma mater’s archives. The marginalia is packed with everything from indigenous-inspired patterns to architectural renderings to straight-up inside jokes: even my best Googling can’t determine if “Prof. Benny Snow” is an actual person.
My favorite inexplicable bit is the giant pigs by the swine barn: no other building on campus gets this same sort of pictoral treatment.

Hans Werner - University of Wisconsin Visitor’s Map (1937)

A very amusing cartographic product lurking in my alma mater’s archives. The marginalia is packed with everything from indigenous-inspired patterns to architectural renderings to straight-up inside jokes: even my best Googling can’t determine if “Prof. Benny Snow” is an actual person.

My favorite inexplicable bit is the giant pigs by the swine barn: no other building on campus gets this same sort of pictoral treatment.

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Screenshot from Randall Munroe - what if? (Three Wise Men) (2012)
http://what-if.xkcd.com/25/
xkcd performs some holiday-themed spatial analysis.

Screenshot from Randall Munroe - what if? (Three Wise Men) (2012)

http://what-if.xkcd.com/25/

xkcd performs some holiday-themed spatial analysis.

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Laconic History of The World (2012)
My first attempt at a typographic map. Don’t be content with the shrunken version up there: this thing is pretty dang sprawling: I’ve prepped a mind-boggling 12,500 pixel wide version you can enjoy exploring:
http://hugepic.io/d2012641f/3.00/57.89/9.67
This map was produced by running all the various countries’ “History of _____” Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country’s boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.
I’ve also prepared a reader’s companion to highlight a few of the more interesting findings. Read it here.

Laconic History of The World (2012)

My first attempt at a typographic map. Don’t be content with the shrunken version up there: this thing is pretty dang sprawling: I’ve prepped a mind-boggling 12,500 pixel wide version you can enjoy exploring:

http://hugepic.io/d2012641f/3.00/57.89/9.67

This map was produced by running all the various countries’ “History of _____” Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country’s boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.

I’ve also prepared a reader’s companion to highlight a few of the more interesting findings. Read it here.