Better readers read better!

My ongoing complaint is how people allow gadgets to replace thought. I have never complained about how computers can be used to gather, analyze and present geographic data. Technology can serve thought. Geographic information systems make possible fascinating, informative maps that would have been unthinkable in earlier times. (I do complain that the aesthetics are severely lacking in most GIS maps).

Here is a wonderful example of someone taking a ton of data that was just lying around out there and compiling a map that like most good maps can tell a million stories.

Sites of photos posted by tourists are red, Locals blue.

Tourists red, Locals blue.

This was compiled from information about pictured locations and the homes of users who posted them, attached to images posted on Flickr. Clever work! It has gained jokey attention as a means for natives to avoid tourist infestations, but the comments on Flickr show there is plenty more to dig into here.

For instance:

“It’s like Queens and the Bronx have never heard of Flickr! Unsurprisingly, though, Williamsburg and Park Slope are fairly Flickr-friendly.”

“It’s interesting that tourists seem mostly to go to Yankees games, not Mets games.”

I was especially tickled to see that someone placed this label on the map: “5 pointz and/or views of the skyline from the 7 train.” And look how tourists, well represented on the Brooklyn bridge, have yet to discover the Williamsburg Bridge.

My point is the value of prior knowledge. In order to be able to look at this unlabeled yet data rich map and instantly grasp nuggets like these, you have to know the city as only a map reader can. The nuggets are endless.

Some nuggets are a question. What’s up with College Point?

She really oughtta sue…

Sue the driver, OK, but even I had to wonder about this. My first reaction was in line with the widespread ridicule and disbelief, but after some thought, I wish good luck to a woman who is suing Google because she was injured on a dangerous highway in Park City Utah while following Google Maps […]

Who needs street signs anyway?

GPS has almost killed street maps. That won’t be the end of it! Slate asks about the future of street signs “Does the advent of GPS mean we’ll no longer need them?” I say: who’s we? At least the article quotes an academic expert saying what I figured out running a map store all these […]

GPS to the rescue?

Lives depend on emergency responders arriving as promptly as possible. But what do we really need to spend to obtain a sufficient level of navigational technology on fire trucks and ambulances? The conclusions to be drawn from the possibly avoidable death of Tom Gallagher in Queens NY are not as obvious as the NY Post […]

The Mysterious Bench

And the even more mysterious tree! This is a fairly busy bus stop. The bench appeared about a month ago. The tree and the traffic cone have been there a few days. I assumed one of the many construction workers who have been renovating the building was responsible. (See the new stucco?) Turns out, the […]

Think of the Children

Adults can easily dismiss the danger that “Technology is making us stupid.”  Maybe you used to fuss semi-competently with maps, got lost now and then, and now you are glad that your cell phone can provide directions.  What is the problem?  You did not get stupider, your life got easier.  Well, adults consistently fail to […]

Map Reader in Chief

Just posing or actually reading? I think both! I hope they hang it where it will do some good.  Even if you can ace a geography quiz, when thinking about world affairs you can always benefit from having the map before you.

How much is too much of a good thing?

What do you make of the commonplace notion that we only use 10 percent of our brains?  I have always taken it to mean that we could all afford to learn about 10 times as much stuff as we do before having any overload trouble. Too bad we seldom bother. Like most people, I watch […]

Crowdsourcing in the non-virtual world

Tweenbots is a provocative and heartening work of art. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal. We see in a new way that […]

When The Map Center was a Cat Center

Continued from an earlier post Mochuisle, an excellent mama, left the kittens only to eat, drink, use the box and to get petted by me. No ingrate, she. Here they are at 6 days. Soon after, perhaps tired of strangers crouching in front of her home to peer in with a flashlight, she moved her […]

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