The New York Public Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other information from old city maps, and they need your help! Take a few minutes to help hone the data; no experience or knowledge required! This is a very neat experiment in crowdsourcing data aggregation for use to improve civic society.
Check out this FluNearYou video, which is the result of a phenomenal collaboration by a hospital, a public health association, and a funder. The government should be monitoring and taking action to prevent this national threat, but they’re not doing much of anything right now (or ever?), so it’s lucky that this project is stepping in.
Lucy Berholz shared thoughts on this collaboration on her blog, Philanthropy 2173:
This is essentially crowdsourcing information on behalf of public health. We’re also seeing citizen crowdfund for city services that aren’t available through tax revenue - see this story on security in Oakland. What we need to ensure is that these types of actions work with government and each extends the other. If we get to the point where we are relying on crowds to fund core public services, our democracy will be in even more trouble than it is now. But if we can use the crowd platforms to engage people, to partner with the public sector, to expand and complement civic responsibility than we’ll be that much the better for it.Understanding these forms of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as political acts - and designing them for maximum public benefit - is a big opportunity.
From What Food Desert Maps Get Wrong About How People Eat, which highlights mobility as an often left-out factor. Spot on.
Originally I was hoping to do some data visualizations with really old census stuff, but then I stumbled upon all of these amazing ones that had already been done.
Jonathan Soma, the Brainery co-founder who created A Handsome Atlas, which is basically a treasure trove of awesome data depictions. He’s doing a great job of finding and re-presenting archival material through a fresh lens, so check it out!
Canadian makes very cool map of United States
This map uses dirt from every state, and it’s made by an 85-year-old retired ad agency art director. His favorite soils came from Colorado (“quite reddish”), Maine (“pale and sandy”), and Mississippi and Alabama (“deeply colored with iron oxide”). The soils have varying degrees of acidity, and each is a slightly different color.
Read more about the map and Les Gregor’s process. If you like it, you can purchase one! Personally, I love how gritty and ‘American’ it feels (yes, including the irony of the artist’s home country) and would LOVE to own one…
Cool game, cool community building, cool report. Thumbs up.
The Knight Foundation recently released an awesome report on their grant to Macon, Georgia for a social game designed by Area/Code to build community through local currency. These are a bunch of my favorite things. (Games! Philanthropy! Sociology! Money!) You really must read more about it, because I can’t embed any here and it’s too good not to look. I leave you with a teaser screenshot:
Mad Men Mapped in NYC
Even though all but the pilot episode of Mad Men have been filmed in LA, NYC is where the show is set and all of the action happens. WNYC has mapped some of the places Peggy, Don, Roger, and others frequent; just click on each spot to read when we saw it. See any favorites on there?
A lot of neat murals to discover! This is a very much incomplete database, but those available on the map are fun to explore. Also, you can submit murals that you have seen. Let me know if you do!
Interview with Shelly Huang: DIY Bride
When a friend requested that I pick up subway maps, for his friend who is soon to be married, I was intrigued. I love anything with a DIY touch, and Shelly Huang’s idea for her wedding makes me smile. I talked with her to learn more:
Jen Bokoff: Your idea of making 1000 paper cranes out of NYC Subway maps for wedding decorations is amazing. Where did it come from?
Shelly Huang: Our wedding theme is “Rustic City Love”, combining natural rustic elements that represents our laid-back style with our love for NYC, the wonderful city we fell in love in and now call home. The idea of 1000 paper cranes is a Japanese tradition that grants the bride & groom 1000 years of happiness, much like the cranes who mate for life and are said to live for 1000 years. I’ve always been deeply moved by this tradition and wanted to incorporate it into my wedding but for the longest time, I couldn’t find the linkage to the “city” part of the theme. Then one day I was riding the F train when I noticed a group of Japanese tourists intently studying a subway map. That’s when it hit me - I would combine my wishes for my marriage along with my love for NYC in these subway map cranes!
JB: Are you going to make all 1000 cranes, or will you have help? And will they all look the same?
SH: Many of our family and friends have already offered to help collect maps and fold cranes! I’m so excited because it would be such a dream to be married under a canopy of cranes embodying the blessings and wishes of all your loved ones! We’re going to hold a paper crane folding party at one point with white wine and funny wedding movies. We’ll probably have to give people tutorials, but I’m not really interested in getting “perfect-looking” cranes so much as cranes folded with love.
JB: What will you do with all of the cranes after the wedding?
SH: That’s a good question! I really hadn’t thought that far, but maybe I’ll pass on the blessings and wishes to another bride. Or maybe the MTA might be interested in getting their subway maps back and would like to display these in the MTA museum! I guess I’ll cross that bridge after the wedding.
JB: Being a crafty bride is wonderfully ambitious! Do you regularly delve into creative projects?
SH: Both my mother and grandmother were very crafty ladies. My grandma custom designed outfits for my barbies and my mother used to make me funky outfits with matching scrunchies and because of them, I’ve inherited a penchant for tinkering with DIY projects here and there. I’ve made many Halloween outfits, and I recently created a “will you be my bridesmaid” project with a hollowed out secret book filled with photos, color inspiration from paint chips, and paper dolls with the bridesmaids’ names on them.
JB: A little birdie told me you need some help. What can New Yorkers do to help see your wedding dream come to fruition?
SH: Well, my fiance told me to ask for donations so we can see our (not-so-cheap) NYC wedding come to fruition! But seriously, I think it would be amazing if people wanted to contribute to the cause of collecting subway maps, or even if you want to fold your wishes into subway map cranes and send them over! Also, if any crafty brides want to bounce off ideas, I’m always excited to make new friends!
If you live in the NYC area and can help contribute maps, or if you want to connect with Shelly, shoot her an email. Shelly will marry Brian Blitz on June 22, 2013 at The Foundry in Long Island City.
Triptrop NYC: the city just got even more accessible
Everything about this incredible mapping tool made by Brooklyn Brainery co-founder Soma makes me happy. It drives me crazy when people think, for instance, that the Upper West Side is just too far to visit me in Prospect Heights, or that Long Island City is really inaccessible. New York City is one of the best cities in the world for countless reasons, and one really is that it’s quite walkable and has public transit that gets you everywhere. Soma’s map shows everything in a 15 minute, 30 minute, 40 minute, etc radius of a given location. Have a look.
Wind Map = Art + Science Data Visualization
This map, which is zoomable and changes periodically as new data is received, is the most sincerely gorgeous map of wind I have ever seen. It was built to be a personal art project, but is also fairly accurate. What an amazing power our country has to use wind for energy; it’s such a rich resource!
The self-described technologists also have done other projects employing visualizations to reshape data into accessible forms.
Learn what your favorite blocks and neighborhoods looked like before the land was developed.
Warning: Positively Addictive