Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Maps as dataviz tool

Maps are one of the oldest information visualisation tools and have been around for quite a while. There were times when map appearance was confined by application of the strictest rules in production, and of course the technology of the day, but once the capacity to create maps extended to general public maps as a data presentation medium blossomed in thousands of varieties. This is why working with maps is so exciting today…

Map is an abstract, graphical representation of the reality. These days that reality can be quite complex - we are after all capable of processing more and more data into information. So, as the result, there is ever increasing need to summarise and present complex spatial information in a meaningful and easy to comprehend way. This pushes the boundaries of modern cartography into seemingly unrelated disciplines of art, graphics, animations, etc.

A lot can be written on current trends in modern cartography but here is just one example of an innovative approach to presenting complex information on a map: 33 years of hurricane paths.


Opinions were divided on whether it was still “a map”, and some expressed a view that this presented “incorrect perspective on the world” but those who have open minds on modern cartography, and who have any experience in dealing with presentation of complex information, will undoubtedly be full of praises for the author of this “creation”!

Link to animated version (7.7MB): Hurricanes Flip-Book Style