(Cross-posted from the Stamen blog, written by Eric.)
Nathaniel showcased nearly two years of City Tracking in Boston last Monday at the MIT/Knight Story and the Algorithm conference. You can read about this years’ winners here, as well about the changing nature of the grant: shorter cycles, more opportunities to apply, that kind of thing. It’s worth a look.
The City Tracking project started off with Dotspotting.org, which allows mapping of data spreadsheets. The project still sees active use, but after we made the Toner tiles available for download we started to notice that more people were expressing interest in the background maps than in the ability to put dots on them.
Responding to public feedback while the project happened was something we were interested in from the start, and http://maps.stamen.com is the result: a browsable, embeddable, and otherwise immediately usable map of the whole world that can be used in Google Maps, Modest Maps, and other mapping APIs without having to download all of OpenStreetMap or tinkering with servers and technical code.
Nathaniel closed with a project we launched in March showing how climate change can be made personal on the street level, instead of the usual course brush strokes, with Climate Central’s surging seas project.
These thin slices of big data are bite size morsels of aha. We hope you like them!
April 2-4, 2012 saw the Where 2.0 Conference come to San Francisco. Most of the studio went to at least one morning or afternoon, to watch many of our friends present on what they’re up to, and of course, to watch Eric talk about maps.stamen.com, and all the different parts we worked out to get the system launch-ready. Here are Eric’s slides (13MB PDF):
It’s been absolutely brilliant to watch the web’s response to the new maps – I’ll post more on that later, including links and examples of the maps being used and reused in other sites, one of the key goals for CityTracking.
We also prepared a surprise to accompany Eric’s talk on Wednesday: newspapers from Newspaper Club that contained watercolor maps of 20 cities around the world (Thank you, thank you, to Anne, Russell, Ben and Tom from Newspaper Club for helping us get the papers ready in time!)
Nathaniel is in Washington, DC at the moment, and also presented about how we created the Watercolor maps to a super-smart geo-tech audience today at Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) North America. “Reminiscent of hand drawn maps, Stamen’s new watercolor tiles apply area washes and organic edges over a paper texture to add warm pop to any map. We’ve added more Photoshop-style raster effects to TileStache to render OSM tiles like you’ve never seen them before.”
In case you missed them, we posted a week-long series of blog posts to accompany the launch of maps.stamen.com from various people at Stamen:
If only I’d gotten this blog online in time (!!!).
Watch two presentations that Mike, then Eric gave in January this year: Big Data For Public Good, hosted by Code for America.
I happened to be in the audience, and was thrilled to hear a gasp or two when Eric revealed our work on the Watercolor maps in public for the first time, about 15 minutes in to his presentation. That was a couple of months before we launched them on March 22, 2012.
As a provocation, Rodenbeck closed with the statement that “there’s no such thing as raw data”—it is always scrubbed, filtered, and interpreted. The challenge—and great opportunity—is to analyze and interpret the data in service of the public good, and to communicate these insights to mass audiences in accessible ways that resonate and inspire action.