Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Totally Tubular

Even if you've never been to London, you've probably seen a map of the Underground, or at least a public transportation system map that was inspired by the original, made in 1931 by Harry Beck.

This diagrammatic map pretty much ignores geography in the interests of making the other information present that much easier to decipher. It is given a very clean and easy-to-read look by eschewing the messiness of reality and only using lines that are horizontal, vertical, or at a forty-five degree angle.

However, since it does ignore geography to highlight the Tube's lines, it is fairly easy to be mislead into getting a distorted sense of the city itself while using only this map. For instance, looking at this map, it's not really possible to tell whether the stations are geographically very close to one another. One who doesn't realize that might spend half an hour in the tunnels when the trip above ground would have taken only five minutes, or vice versa. Over the years, some have felt that this was a failing, while others maintained that it didn't matter, as the map's sole purpose was to help one get around in the subway system.

Those who felt that geography oughtn't be ignored have tweaked and prodded at the map over the years. One such re-imagining of the Tube map can be found here. It's still easy to read, and it takes geography into account to give a much more realistic view of the system. Here's a zoomed in screenshot:

Check out their blog for news, links, and a chance to provide feedback.

If you're interested in the evolution of the maps of the London Tube, this site has a nice collection of maps throughout the years.

And here is a very interesting conversation from Edward Tufte's forum about London Tube maps, as well as maps for other transportation systems around the world, that spans nearly a decade. (Unfortunately, some of the older links don't work.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The United States of Pig

W.E. Baker was a pure-food proponent who lived in Massachusetts. He believed that unsanitary conditions in food production led to disease-- therefore, he opened his very own Sanitary Piggery to show the rest of the world how swine ought to be raised. In July of 1875, he threw a grand party both to celebrate and raise awareness for his new Sanitary Piggery and to commemorate a battle that had been fought nearby.

You can't have a fancy party without fancy party favors (at least, not if you're doing it right), so Baker distributed these maps as ‘good cheer souvenirs’ to his guests, who numbered in the thousands:


The map’s full title is: THIS PORCINEOGRAPH is copied from the Census Surveys of 1870, adding only 3 feet of territory (?) resting on Cuba, Mexico and Sandwich Islands, and the Hydro-Cephalus from Canada. Congressional Legislation is required to PERFECT this GEHOGRAPHY.

It seems as though Baker might have been in a rush to get these piggy maps ready for his guests, because there are a few typos, some reversed text, and what seem to be notes to improve future drafts of the map.

Around the map are pigs representing each state, next to a banner with a pork recipe for each state. Michigan's is "Superior White Fish and Larded Sweetbreads."
(It's impossible to read while it's this size but this page has a wonderful detailed version of the map that you can zoom in on.)

Read more about the map here.

Side note: We have an actual print of the Porcineograph at U of M's very own Clements Library!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where are people moving? has created this interactive map using IRS data to show where people were moving in 2008. You can click on a county to see its data-- where people moved from (with black lines) and where former residents moved to (red lines). For Washtenaw county, the results looked like this:

How about your county?