Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Recap

A quick scan of my 2013 projects here shows three distinct types of posts.  The most interesting and fun is the hey I just made this thing sort of post.  Followed by the try this out posts.  And lastly the more day to day housekeeping of this and that posts.

Thanks for the fun conversations, project ideas, and support all year long.  2013 was both difficult and thrilling and certainly packed with lessons which I didn't necessarily want (but those turn out to be the truest sort).  Here's a 2013 rundown of this blog:


Drunk Driving in American Cities
A follow-up to late 2012's traffic fatality series, folks morbidly(?) wondered how their city's drunk driving stats stacked up in a more ranked sense.  Well you got it!  This is a sort-of bump chart of the biggest US cities, with some interesting city signatures, for sure.

Seattle People Dots
A pile of dot maps illustrating Seattle area commuters.  You know, that dot-mapping thing where each person is a tiny speck tumbling about in a sea of other tiny specks.  Hang on, Dostoyevsky just called, I have to take this.

Biking & Walking to Work
More commute dots.  This time they show the "top" bike-friendly cities and differentiate between biking & walking vs everything else.  I drive to work, but if I lived close enough, I like to think that I'd bike there in the two months a year that it is feasible.

Map Math
The process of making data maps is way more fun than looking at them.  Here's a behind-the scenes look at some raw data sets and how they get crammed together into ratios (and ratios of ratios).  It's so meta.  I earned a fair bit of scorn for my garish color ramp.  I defended it at the time, but the benefit of hindsight has won me over to the side of my critics.

Sandy and the Buildings of NYC
The age old story of floods and buildings.  Buildings and floods.  This was a take at seeing one data set (actual and predicted flood zones) cookie cut by another (building footprints).

Color Theory Through the Google-ifier
Orange makes you hungry.  Yellow bedrooms are associated with schizophrenia.  I hear stuff like that a lot.  So I asked Google Image search what different terms looked like and sampled them down to their average color.

Tornado Travel Map
Big shocker, tornadoes tend to move to the northeast.  But here is a picture that takes a step at illustrating just how overwhelming that overall trend is.  This was my first chart is star, maps are second fiddle layout and I like it.

Language and Color
A lot like that color-theory-googlifier thing above, but this time I wanted to see how connections of colors with ideas vary across different cultures.  Listen up, grad students, there is a solid thesis in there (for anyone better at math and psychology and anthropology than me -which is everybody).

A Breathing Earth
This wamma-jamma turned out to be three times more popular than all other posts this year, combined.  I got all dopy and sentimental about it, but so did other folks, too, so shut up just shuuut up!  I am NOT crying, YOU'RE crying!

Football Game-Day Traffic Fatalities
In addition to fearing I'd be sued for libel, of all the projects this year this one stole the most sleep because of my struggle to describe it.  Pro tip: any time you have to paraphrase statements of statistical significance in a map, maaaaybe it's time to re-think things.

The Dispersion of Life and Gender
2013 had me asking all sorts of questions to myself.  This map series was a natural result of paying extra attention to the arc of birth, ambition, love, and death.  Hey, P.S. we found out recently we're having a baby due in June and I'm really excited to meet him/her.

United Nations of Bitcoin
Sort of a map of the international adoption of Bitcoins, but really just a map of operating system popularity by country.  If I had this to do again, it would be much different.  It's pretty lame, actually -but I am pleased with the aesthetic.


Severe Satellite Basemaps
I have a love-hate with satellite imagery used as basemaps (mostly love, but local news uses it so poorly).  But, when I do use them I like to crank up the drama to eleven using a couple tricks.  Plus I've gotten pretty good at rationalizing why this is the way to go.

Mercator Globe Hack
Nine pennies, some yarn, and a globe my wife got me at Salvation Army are the props employed to illustrate Mercator's warping of size and direction.

Hex Mapping
Necessity of the mother of invention.  When you don't have a tool that does what you need, maybe try a bunch of tools and sneaky uses of them.  The things I go through for my lack of programming capabilities.

Dasymetric Dot Density and the Uncanny Valley
Frankenstein's monster of a blog post.  Lots going on in this one, including my tendency to associate everything with the uncanny valley.  The takeaway: if you have any use for country shapes clipped down to populated areas, then have at this shapefile.

Unrequested Map Tips parts One and Two
Whenever I find myself writing advice, I ratchet up the self-deprecation to counteract sounding like a know-it-all crank.  But in the end I probably just sound like a self-deprecated know-it-all crank.  Wait, I just did it again!  Anyway, there are some good bits in there for cartographers, or those who enjoy reading about the human condition by way of cartographic techniques.

Silly Geographic Precision
Sure, it's a pull-through of sloppy database configuration, but exceedingly long coordinates are misleading and bloaty.  Best to match precision with their recording accuracy.  The gist: six decimal places is all you need -the rest ranges from dumb to pure evil.

Paper Globe Template
The one where I copy my wife's Pinterest-inspired Christmas ornament project and try to make a globe-like thing out of it.  Resulting globe-things are for decorative purposes only and I will not be held responsible for gross navigational errors, or the grievous loss of comfort and property, experienced as a result of their misuse.


Freaky Friday
Every now and again we have a hack day.  These were the projects.  The fat flow of idea to demonstration, and the clever and creative folks I get to work with here are two of my very favorite aspects of IDV.

Tribute to a Geographer
I wrote this way too soon after losing my Mom, but I was proud of her and writing to you about it seemed appropriate.  What's the point in writing anything if it's without sincerity?  Grief is weird, and I learned that I tend to do it privately -except for when I write, which helped give shape to the pain.  Many thanks to those who reached out with their comfort.

This summer Josh Stevens joined us as Visiting Cartographer.  He was a valuable collaborator on several spatial projects and was a lot of fun to have around.  Unfortunately, a lot of product work sprung up at that time so I didn't get to spend as much time with him as I'd have liked.  Brilliant guy.

Best American Infographics
It's a treat to be on a scouting team with such talented folks and a thrill to see the tornado tracks map conjured in print.  The other day I was in the bookstore and I showed the book to my littles.  It was a proud moment for a dad, showing off a little to the only ones it matters showing off to.

Adventures in Mapping
The slide-share of a lecture to a class of informatics students at UC Davis.  I have found that I never really understand something so well as when I have to explain it to somebody else.  Teaching is reciprocal.

Amazing Maps from 1880
Whenever I need a real kick in the gut, I browse historical data mapping archives to realize that it's all been done before -collected via horseback, aggregated by hand, etched on copper plates, and bound individually in leather.  And here I am whining that I have to define hex values for color gradients.

Anyway, be thankful for your 2013 and do well in 2014.  All the best,

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