Posts filed under ‘Cartography’

Gloom and crime

If you want to check out which US state is full of doom and gloom or which state is in the grip of crime, this post has the answer for you! Apparently, the saddest state in the US is Kentucky. Researchers have been looking into frequent mental distress (FMD), which can be defined as stress, depression, emotional problems, melancholy and so on. Two nationwide surveys were conducted across all 50 US states and across 3,100 counties (1993-2001 and 2003-2006). Respondents were asked to rate their general mental state and how many days of the month their mental state was not so great.

The bad news is that between 1993 and 2001, 9% of Americans were said to be suffering from FMD but by 2006 that number had risen to 10.2%. Let’s face it: the Americans have a had a lot to suffer through – eight years of Bush, 9/11, the ongoing war in Iraq, the global financial crisis, unemployment. And so the surveys found that in order of ranking, the saddest states in the US are:

  • Kentucky with 14.4% of residents reporting FMD in both surveys
  • West Virginia with 9.6% in the first survey and 14.9% in the second, giving it an average of 11.2% of the population reporting FMD
  • Mississippi with 9.4% in the first survey and 13.7% in the second

If I was asked to name the happiest US state, without hesitation I would say Hawaii. I’ve been there four times, I like it so much. You think of swaying palms in a balmy, tropical environment. The people there always seem to be smiling. The sun shines and the water sparkles. And the survey confirms this – the Aloha state is the happiest with only 6.6% of respondents reporting FMD. The next sunniest states were Kansas and Nebraska, which tied at 7.5%. But seems that overall, by the time of the second survey, more Americans were suffering from FMD with 44 states (plus the District of Columbia) faring worse on the second survey than on the first. And seems that the most stressed are those between the ages of 18 and 24, with the least anxious being 65-plus.

And if you want to find out what crime is happening in your state, uses Google Maps to track occurrences of crime. Only 11 states have been mapped so far: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. According to the website, “ has been developed by The Omega Group to help law enforcement agencies throughout North America provide the public with valuable information about recent crime activity by neighborhood“. You can even receive Crime Alerts by entering your street address and nominating the type of crime you want to be notified about.

If you’re in LA, the LAPD has a similar service. And the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK offers crime maps showing what crime has been committed in neighbourhoods across London.

May 13, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

I’m in heaven

How good is this!! The World Digital Library has just been launched by UNESCO and 32 partner institutions. It’s a free access digital library of primary, cultural materials from around the world – maps, manuscripts, rare books, films, sound recordings, architectural drawings, prints, musical scores and…..photographs! The library is available in 7 languages: English, Portuguese, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. This is such a great collection for serendipity; for students; for scholars. I got lost in it for hours (the photographs of course).

The objectives of the WDL are “to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research”. Apparently, this wonderful project was sparked off by Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, who proposed the establishment of a World Digital Library in a speech to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in June 2005. Even Google gave some money towards the project (that’s a brownie point to Google from me).

Go here to browse the WDL by item type. But just let me show you some amazing stuff. Here’s a photograph of a Chola woman (from Bolivia) taken in 1911 by Max T. Vargas.

This is a map of Australia from 1826 created by Adrien Hubert Brué, who accompanied the French explorer, Nicolas Baudin, on his 1803 voyage to Australia.

Of the books available, wow, is all I can say. There’s a fabulous book called Curious Designs – a 1624 book by Giovanni Battista Braccelli, which depicts a suite of 50 etchings that celebrate the human figure in geometric forms. A pamphlet that is Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which he originally drafted in July 1774 as a set of instructions for the Virginia delegates to the first Continental Congress. And something I can’t wait to read: Theodore Roosevelt’s 1914 book, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, with photographs by Kermit Roosevelt.

And OMG: you can browse by time or topic – under Philosophy & Psychology, I found a fabulous photograph, taken in 1865-1872, of Tajik women engaged in fortune telling.

And under Literature & Rhetoric, I found London Town (1883) by Felix Leigh – a late Victorian book of children’s poetry, which presents a bright and cheery view of London at the height of its imperial glory.

You can browse by place and I leave you with a WWI promotional poster to mobilise the war effort. The poster says “Australia has promised Britain 50,000 more men: will you help us keep that promise”.


April 28, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Do beer and chicken mix?

This is a good bit of fun. And I’m very thankful for this mind map quite frankly because, when it comes to cooking, I’m better known for my cremation of dishes than for culinary expertise.

But with this idiot’s guide to how cook a chicken with beer I might have some success. It’s been doing the rounds of the internet and I think was originally posted on a Japanese site, but some dude has thankfully provided English translation.

I particularly like helpful instructions such as “Open lid OK” – yep you might need to do that every now and then to make sure said chook isn’t cremated. Or “Cook under small flame” – this instruction is helpful just in case you thought a blow torch on the chicken would lead to fast food 🙂

Source: Virtual China

March 7, 2008 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

2008 Web trend map

In a post last year, I blogged about a Japanese company, Information Architects, and their web trends map. Well, they’re back for 2008 with their Web Trend Map. Still looking like a map of the London Underground (well, Tokyo subway system really), the beta version map shows the 300 most successful and influential websites on the internet (still looking for!).

Click here for the interactive version. The map has been organised to show different “trend lines”. Seems there’s a lot of changes since last year and I notice a new “trend line” out on its own in the 2008 map. I may have missed it, but the Beta version doesn’t seem to have a Legend, so it’s difficult to sort out which trend line is which. There seems to be a continuing rise of political blogs and citizen-journalism sites. And the sites of thought leaders like Doc Searls and Guy Kawasaki have made it into the 300 but I can’t find Edward Tufte, whose site was featured in 2007. Photo-sharing sites seem to have risen in popularity.

What a difference a year makes!

February 10, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Got the travel bug?

Every few months, I get hit by the desire to travel – usually to some bizarre place that the average person wouldn’t wish to go to. It’s the adventurous spirit in me I guess. What have been your top trips over the last 12 months? London to Paris? New York to Sydney? Sydney to Hong Kong? When you’re on a plane, ever wonder where your fellow travellers are headed to? Well, wonder no more. Dopplr is a social networking site and online tool for travellers, weary or otherwise. It’s been going for about a year now and the site has some socially-generated maps that are really interesting, which they refer to as Raumzeitgeist (The spirit of Spacetime).

For the geeky amongst you who like data and graphs, there’s a lot to keep you amused. For the visual people like me, here’s one of the maps showing where Dopplr users travelled in 2007.

The top 10 trips were:

  • London to Paris
  • San Francisco to New York
  • Helsinki to London
  • London to New York
  • San Francisco to Los Angeles
  • New York to San Francisco
  • Boston to New York
  • Los Angeles to San Francisco
  • London to Amsterdam
  • London to San Francisco

And the top 10 destination countries?

  • USA
  • Great Britain
  • Germany
  • France
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Finland

Hey! where’s Australia?

Source: BoingBoing

February 9, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

The Bible, SNA and maps

I vaguely remember Sunday School classes when I was a kid. My father was a Christian Scientist (no, nothing to do with Scientologists) and his mother was a Christian Science practitioner and so I was raised according to the religious teachings of Christian Science. I remember feeling really worried in high school because some dude declared Christian Science to be a “cult” and I thought OMG are my father, grandmother and ergo me part of a cult? Would we go the way of the People’s Temple or those sorry dudes waiting for that UFO to whisk them away in the Heaven’s Gate fiasco?

Well, nope that hasn’t happened but I did get caught up in trying to figure out and understand all the messy relationships in the Bible (because I studied it in my undergrad History degree, we had to know it pretty well). So I really could have done with some information visualisation of the rich social networks in the Bible and all the people and places. Apparently, there are 2619 names mentioned in the Bible so keeping track of that is pretty darn hard.

But Chris Harrison, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, took the list of names, parsed the King James version and when two names appeared in the same verse, a connection between those two entities was created. Cool. And here’s how an SNA of the Bible looks:

The background is the entire text of the Bible, whilst the names are the Biblical names he’s mapped. Font size of the names is proportional to the number of occurrences in the text. To do the maps justice and see the rich connections, you’ll need to download the high resolution versions (it took me ages as they’re over 100mb each, but well worth it so you can see the weave of connections).

Chris has also been busy having a look at Wikipedia. As he says: “Wikipedia is an interesting dataset for visualization. As an encyclopedia, its articles span millions of topics. Being a human edited entity, connections between topics are diverse, interesting, and sometimes perplexing – five hops takes you from subatomic particles to Snoop Dog. Wikipedia is revealing in how humans organise data and how interconnected seemingly unrelated topics can be”. He calls this project WikiViz. The map below is five levels deep, centred on the topic Music.

And here’s the Wikipedia Top 50 from August 2006 to May 2007:

Other projects on Chris’s site include a set of visualisations that display how cities across the globe are connected. Go and have a look at all the projects and fascinating maps on his site – I got lost for a couple of hours.

Thanks to Chris Harrison for giving me permission to link to his maps!

January 31, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Map of surveillance societies

Privacy International has just published a map of surveillance societies around the world. There’s also an accompanying report that details surveillance and privacy protection issues. The colour-coded map shows societies with the best privacy laws, with the privacy-hostile societies highlighted in black. There are 7 colour-coded levels.If you don’t want to wade your way through the report and map, I’ll provide you with some tasty tidbits:

  • I’m still looking for an area on the map highlighted in Blue (consistently upholds human rights).
  • the 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards.
  • there is an increasing trend for governments around the world to archive data on the financial, geographic and communication records of its citizens, leading to the conclusion that citizens are under suspicion.
  • there is a substantial decline in privacy protection across Europe following surveillance initiatives coming out of Brussels
  • the lowest ranking countries are (big surprise, not!) – Russia, Malaysia and China
  • the highest ranking countries for 2007 are Greece, Romania and Canada (always loved Canada, where’s that emigration application I once was about to fill out!)
  • the worst ranking EU country is? the UK, which you’ll see on the map has fallen into the black (endemic surveillance society)
  • no surprise that the US  is in the black area 
  • the really astute amongst us will see Australia is in the red, two levels up from black. This means we’re sitting at level 5 and Australia’s rank is “systematic failure to uphold safeguards”. 
  • Australian ranks worse than South Africa and New Zealand
  • Australia ranks badly when it comes to constitutional protection
  • Argentina scored higher than 18 of the 27 EU countries
  • Venezuela requires your fingerprints just to get a phone
  • South Korea requires a government registration number linked to your identity before you can post on message boards.

Okay, off for a lie down!

January 8, 2008 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Planetary maps and mind maps

Kim & TylerI seem to be in a bit of a cartographic and LOLCats phase right now. While checking out some maps of Africa, I stumbled onto these maps of the far side of our satellite, the Moon. Wired Science refers to them as the “most beautiful planetary maps ever”. Not sure I’d go that far. Seem a bit Jackson Pollock to me or a bit “here’s what I had for breakfast after I threw it up”. The United States Geological Survey dudes, in partnership with NASA, have been mapping planets – not sure how it’s done but here’s a map of the far side of the Moon. Pretty awesome.

The colours of the map depict minerals and various geological materials. And here’s the Moon’s western hemisphere:

Source: Wired Science

And at a totally different level, you can map your ideas and thoughts with some pretty cool Mind Mapping tools I’ve found. Mashable has a list of 30+ mind mapping tools. They may not produce a Jackson Pollock like map but they help to model arguments, ideas and perspectives. Considering we’re heading into a Federal Election in Australia on November 24, Australia’s politicians should probably check out Debatemapper, a free web-based tool that can model and evaluate debates in politics and public policy. On the site there’s an interesting debate map showing ex-UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s eighth and final Our Nation’s Future lecture on public life and the relationship between politics and the media in the 21st Century. The verdict? The relationship is stuffed and needs repair.

And is pretty cool as it allows for multiple users and you can include Wikipedia entries. Cornerstone is a highly visual tool that the kids can use (good to get them young into the discipline of organising thoughts if you ask me). So here’s a couple of mind maps using Logotron educational software:

Go here to Mashable to see the complete list of 30+ mind mapping tools – very useful.

Given all the stuff I’ve seen recently on LOLCats, I’m sure there’s a mind mapping tool to map the thoughts of kitty 🙂

November 10, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Everything you need to know about Europe

Despite LOLCats Bible of yesterday’s post, I haven’t scurried back to reading on privacy and surveillance just yet. So today’s post is about another curious site I came across – Eupedia and its maps of Europe. I love old or interesting maps and there’s plenty to find on this site.

Ever wondered what percentage of Europeans have fair hair or light-hued eyes? Can’t say it keeps me awake at night but this map, for example, deals with fair-haired people.

And this map shows density of population:

Whilst this map shows child well-being in Europe (based on a UNICEF report):

November 8, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

English countryside disappearing

CPRE photo of English countrysideFrom the 1960s to now, the peaceful, green English countryside has been disappearing due to relentless urbanisation – highways and population growth have eroded the tranquility. In the early 1960s, the motorways had barely started to encroach and 26% of the countryside was classed as disturbed. By the 1990s, 41% of the English countryside was suffering from urban blight. By 2007, 50% has disappeared due to urban intrusion. South-east England is the worst affected with a 70% loss of undisturbed countryside. So by the end of the 21st Century, countryside free from major disturbance could all be swallowed up in most regions of England.

This is all according to new maps just published by Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Once tranquil areas are now subject to noise, street lights, spoiled views, power lines, airports and highways. More than 12,350 square miles of countryside have been affected since the 1960s. And since 1990, each year is witness to a further 320 square miles disappearing. As the CEO of CPRE says: “Countryside which is undisturbed by noise and development is vital for our quality of life and well-being. These maps show what the future may hold if we don’t sufficiently value our wonderful rural landscapes. As the shadow of intrusion stretches further and wider, the peace and quiet we need is harder to find.

CPRE has just released the intrusion maps and they bring together data spanning the 1960s, 1990s and 2007. You can see the maps from the 1960s and 2007 below – click on them for fuller detail.

CPRE intrusion map

CPRE intrusion map

You can download the full report – Developing an Intrusion Map of Englandhere. What a sorry state of affairs.

Photo credit: CPRE

September 20, 2007 at 3:00 am 1 comment

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