Posts Tagged ‘Map’

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sample of part 1: Comparing point of interest data from OSM and USGS


sample of part 2: Mapping non-normative features in Prospect Park

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sample of part 3: a non-euclidean map of Prospect Park


Part 1, Points of Interest, OSM vs. USGS: here

Part 2, Mapping the park from my point of view: here

Part 3, Moving beyond maps (OF): here

Final paper for project available here

We live in world inundated with maps yet we are never critical of maps, assuming that if it’s mapped it must be empirical and free from subjectivity.

Dennis Wood, The Power of Maps; “Mirror,” “window,” “objective,” “accurate,” “transparent,” “neutral”: all conspire to disguise the map as a …reproduction… of the world, disabling us from recognizing it for a social construction which, with other social constructions, brings that world into being out of the past and into our present.

This project seeks to address the following:

1. Maps have always been political in nature; the idea that maps embody interests of not only the mapmakers but also who they are serving, (developers, advertisers, etc.)

2. The unintended consequences of maps: Google Maps (web-mercator & their algorithm)

USGS criteria for what they represent on their topographic maps: 1. permanence of features, 2. cost of compiling information (aerial photography and field checking), and 3. map legibility.” (Wood)

How To Lie With Maps; “Not only is it easy to lie with maps, it’s essential…maps must tell white lies to avoid hiding critical information in a fog of detail the map must offer a selective, incomplete view of reality” (Monmonier, H2LWM)

Map Art: began in the 1920’s and was used by artists from different movements (surrealists, situationists, Fluxus, post-Minimalists) surrealist map of the world.

Wood again:

“…map artists are reclaiming the map as a discourse function for people in general. The flourishing of map art signals the imminent demise of the map as a privileged form of communication. The map is dead, long live the map!”

Counter / Critical Cartography: If maps are political why not use them for subversive purposes?
“All maps, whether institutional or counter-cartographic, embody and produce power relations” (Mogel)

Maps in the Digital Era:

Are now made from geospatial data. No data is ever completely “raw” or “objective” (Para-Empiricism, coined by Annette Kim). How do new forms of web-mapping and spatial data embody bias and subjectivity? Is new technology really allowing mapping to become more democratic or just pseudo-popular?

map 1: looking at bias in spatial data

> what does the USGS say about PP according to their criteria?

> what does OSM say about PP from their contributors?

map 2: what don’t normative maps show the reader?

>If maps are a snap shot in time how do we define permanence?

>What is deemed worthy of being mapped?

map 3: how can we make mapping more humanistic?

> is our perception of maps as objective and neutral too embedded to make them truly democratic?

> do we need something beyond the map?

using on the ground research methods to collect qualitative data (field papers, photography, video, sound)

A non-euclidean “map” of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Created using a GoPro camera mounted to my head, iMovie for video editing and Open-Frameworks for combining the video shots into one screen space. Inspired by the theory of artist and cartographer Dennis Wood and work by Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Annette Kim (of MIT’s SLAB):


link to interactive map here

Following the Cartography and GIS Dorkshop I gave last weekend I was invited to give a 3 hour open-source Geo demonstration with QGIS, Tile Mill, and MapBox at a Trans-Disciplinary Design class taught by Mathan Rathinam, here at Parsons.  The class is dealing with issues relating to environmental hazards and disaster resilience in NYC, so to make the connection between the class and the Geo tools we used some spatial data from NYC Open Data. We pulled in two datasets; one for hurricane evacuation zones and another for evacuation centers. The zones have a classification from 1 – 6, with 1 being the highest at risk areas prone to flooding and 6 being the least. In the class I demonstrated how to load and style this data in TileMill using a sequential color scheme as demonstrated on Cynthia Brewer’s Color Brewer Cartography guideIn the map above I’ve refined the design a little further, using some advanced labeling with SVG icons from TileMill’s open-source Maki icon repository. I also used the MapBox API to add a “Find My Location” button that will drop an icon based on the user’s IP address.  Additionally, clicking on an icon will reveal it’s full address in the upper right hand corner.  I enjoyed teaching the material to the class and look forward to giving more workshops and demos, hopefully bringing in some guest speakers as well. Thanks again to Mathan and his class for having me, it was a pleasure.

Maker Faire observations

Posted: September 23, 2013 in gallery or event viewing

Despite having a head cold that is making it seem like I’m living in a dream like state during my waking hours I managed to make the trek out to the New York Hall of Science in Queens for the 2nd(?) NYC Maker Faire. This will have been my fourth time attending Maker Faire, the previous three having been in San Mateo, CA.  The first project I noticed was in the Microsoft tent and was called ‘Project Spark’; a new concept for creating worlds, characters, and plots in a role playing game WHILE PLAYING THE GAME! The graphics and UI were amazing, a Ginormous screen with a touch interface allowed very elegant control with extremely responsive play. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo as it was so crowded, but I did get a couple of these amazing robots that would box each other. They were being controlled by two kids standing in front of Kinects who were boxing into the air. Their movements controlled the robots punches, needless to say everyone was amused.

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The Kraftwurx 3D printing service, which is global and gives the client 83 materials to choose from including metals, plus the 3D scanning technology for highly customized, wearable, 3D printed fashion was off the hook.  I can’t imagine the possibilities these technologies are bringing to a global audience, they’re simply incredible. However what really blew my mind was a robot someone made that automated the pour-over style of coffee brewing that has become trendy at high-end coffee shops:


I’m sure all my barista friends back in Oakland will get a huge laugh out of this.  I can’t tell you how many hours they spend doing this at coffee shops and farmer’s markets for blue bottle. Speaking of coffee someone also made an arduino controlled coffee roaster, I believe the device controlled the temperature and rotation of the beans:


My favorite project I came across was one from a group of Young Makers from San Jose (I think) who made a huge gaming board inspired from the mobile-app game Flow. Toddlers and kids absolutely loved running around this thing and interacting with it. The people who made it envision using it for an educational tool that teaches children about team work, what a great idea!

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Finally, I came across a project called Mannahatta; a web app in the works from Wildlife Conservation Society (local non-profit that manages the NYC Zoo’s and does international work as well!) that is a scientific modeling tool for predicting NYC’s climate by the year 2409 (no idea why this date was chosen). This app is absolutely incredible because 1. it involves an interactive web map as a platform / interface for visualizing future land-use data, and 2. the GUI let users ‘paint’ small squares of land-use data on the map in a sim-city style fashion. The user could decide if a block would be grass, buildings, have a green roof, solar panels, a backyard orchard, etc.  After editing an area, say a block or several blocks, the model could be run and the user would see how the changes to the built environment they made would influence NYC’s climate in the future while comparing it with today’s climate and prior the invasion of western Europe. This is an educational service open to scientists as well as the public with a supposed launch date in December of this year. WOW!  I’m currently trying to talk the main person who created this app into giving a talk at the Geo NYC Meetup, we’ll see…


Once again Maker Faire, you did not fail to impress me, definitely worth the ~2 hour subway commute each way and money spent on the ticket. Truly inspirational and exciting.

NYC Mental Map

Posted: September 15, 2013 in hand-drawn map, seven in seven
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>link to high-res

For day five of the 7 in 7 project I drew a mental map of NYC depicting my limited knowledge of the city’s geography. A mental map visualizes a unique perspective from the person who draws it; places of importance, routes traveled, known and unknown areas, and perhaps most importantly how they feel about their geographic location(s). For example in my map I depict parks and a “Beach Land” area in the Rockaways which is telling of how public lands and open space are of importance to me. I filled a lot of unknown areas of Brooklyn and Queens with question marks, these are areas I’ve yet to venture to and know little about on a personal level.

Bike Collisions and Routes June 2013

Link to interactive map

This map shows cycling crashes recorded by the NYPD for June 2013, following the launch of Citibike in late May that year.  Bicycle lanes are shown color coded for off-street (green) or on street (purple), transitional (yellow), or null (grey). Ultimately my goal is to show where collisions tend to take place and if there has been an increase and in what areas following the launch of Citibike. This data only represents a sample of the dataset I collected, more collision data can be found hereThe map was created using CartoDB with QGIS and GDAL for inspecting and editing the geo-data prior to visualization.

NYC bicycle facility data is available here

Citibike station data is available here: which I believe is the live update.

NYC 100 year Floodplain 2020

link to interactive map

An interactive map showing the estimated NYC 100 year Floodplain for 2020 that takes into account the influence of sea-level rise predictions by the New York City Panel on Climate Change.
Data is here and was processed using QGIS, GDAL, & TileMill. Hosted with MapBox.

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link to interactive map

I’ve used a tool called OpenPaths to hack my mobile device’s location data and have been playing around with visualizing it, previously using a javascript library called D3JS. This time however I created a visualization using open source GIS and web-mapping tools including TileMill from MapBox in the form of an open-source web-map. The user can zoom and pan to view the data while hovering the mouse over a point will display the date and time. At a smaller scale (eg. zoomed out) the overlapping data points become opaque showing where I’ve spent the most time. Upon zooming in the points become more dispersed. Despite the data not being entirely accurate, displaying this data raises questions of privacy and in a time of Snowden’s leaks on the NSA’s covert surveillance programs it seems appropriate to bring attention to the ways in which the government has been tracking those with mobile devices.