March 29, 2011

Data Reveals Stories: Part Five | Maps

This is one of a six-part series on how to harness data to reveal stories. It represents notes and follow-on links. If you want to take part in an exciting workshop to get your hands on real life data sets, create your own visualisations and learn how to share them, you can join me in Boston at Building Learning Communities for my pre-conference workshop this summer, or ask for it as one of our masterclass sessions. Many of the examples cited are from the information visualiser's Bible, Information is Beautiful: buy the book (in the UK | in the USA) or visit the blog.

Map overlays
Countries are not all given equal status in the learning we do/did at school. Map overlays show this.
Examples:
Take several of the world's richest and most prominent countries and see how many you can fit into an outline of Africa:

Africa and the rest

Take four of the world's four richest economies and see how many you can fit inside the richest of all: the United States. (Information is Beautiful, pp.61, 142-3, 202)

Everyone thinks their own country is bigger than it really is. The Brits are as guilty as anyone else. Just listen to the oohs and ahs at these proportionate maps, courtesy of Sheffield-based Alisdair Rae:

UK in Africa

The BBC's How Big Really helps people understand the scale of issues around environmental disasters, the war on terror, disease and other global issues, but showing their extent atop the town or city where that person lives:

BBC Dimensions


Real maps, abstract stories
Take a map whose coloration or name markings tell a different story. The master of this was CS Lewis with the maps for the Chronicles of Narnia:

Narnia

Other examples:
Interactive Diabetes map of America
Flight pattern maps from The Endless City
A world of number ones - every country has to be great at something:

Number one for something

Proportionate Maps
A wonderful collection of maps from the University of Sheffield, UK, show the world map through different lenses to explore global issues. For example, population density as a map is amongst other concepts on WorldMapper:

Population Map



Mind maps / Organised Mind Maps
Favoured by the Guardian for its coverage of large, complex economy issues, these give a lot of information and show how it relates:

Guardian organised mind maps

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Really clever stuff!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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