Monthly Archives: February 2012

Odds and Ends

From time to time, I make quick, one-off projects for my own entertainment, and I usually don’t have anywhere for them to go once complete. So, instead, I will post a few of my recent ones here in hopes that they will amuse you, gentle reader.

Choropleth Mosaics

Some weeks ago, a friend of mine was looking at a choropleth map and commenting that she liked the mosaic of colors. This got me to thinking about using enumeration units as actual mosaic tiles to create an image. I’m sure someone’s done something like this before, but here it is:

Tim Wallace, I know, had an idea like this in mind some time before me and has made use of the concept in a slightly different form over on Bostonography.

Picturesque New England

While working on one of my river transit maps, I was reading about a lot of various New England towns, and it seemed to me that approximately every other one was described as “picturesque” on Wikipedia. So, I decided to do some wholly unsound research to map which parts of Massachusetts were most picturesque.


Each town is assigned a “picturesqueness score,” which is simply the number of search hits for “(townname) Massachusetts picturesque” divided by the search hits for “(townname) Massachusetts. So, it’s the percentage of pages which mention the town that also contain the word “picturesque.” I used Bing for the searches, mainly because Google kept searching for the word “beautiful” instead of “picturesque,” and I couldn’t stop it.

Note that most of those pages don't contain the word picturesque -- just the word beautiful, which Google thinks is close enough

When I was done, I hastily assembled these maps using Indiemapper, which makes doing unclassed choropleths and noncontiguous cartograms a snap.

Oregon Trail

This last week I was a guest lecturer in a cartography course, and as part of the lecture I showed a map extracted from one of the old Apple versions of Oregon Trail (to show the representation of mountains). Thinking about the game later that day, I decided to map out the route taken by my intrepid, dysentery-ravaged party, in a way different than the game uses. Unsurprisingly, I fell back on the Tube map style. I swear I know how to make other kinds of maps, and once I finish my river atlas I may never do them again.


Personally, I played the green-and-black version.

The type is set in a bitmap face called Apple ][, which I found at dafont.com. If you use it, be careful of the kerning — it needs some adjustment. But it was, otherwise, exactly what I needed to make this work.

Making this reminded me that I’d been meaning to do one other map in this style, for some months…

Oregon Wine

I have a friend who is very much into wine, and some way or another, the idea came up that I ought to do an Oregon Trail-style map of the various designated American Viticultural Areas of Oregon.

Click for larger image, one which is a whopping 25k.

The image above was created at a size of 320 x 200. If you click, you can view a copy which I tripled to 960 x 600, so it was large enough to actually see. Pixels have gotten a lot smaller since the 80’s.

There is a group of five very small AVAs that are situated in the Willamette Valley, which I had to leave out due to size constraints. Suppose I’ll need to make a second map sometime.

It was a fun challenge to try and fit everything into such a small space and with no color to work with. I can’t say it’s wholly successful, but it was good enough for its purpose as an amusement. I have a mind to institute some sort of bitmap-mapping competition, but my last efforts at competition-sponsoring went poorly, so I may just skip it.

That’s all for the time being. I’m sure I’ll have more amusements in a few months.

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