A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart poked some fun at the media's need to compare the Gulf oil slick to other similarly sized areas -- "the size of Puerto Rico," "the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined!"
The new site "If It Was My Home," uses a clever Google Maps mashup that lets you generate your own comparison by putting the oil spill wherever you want. The site's authors say they update the size of the splotch every day with new data from NOAA. As you can see from this map of the area where I live, the spill's grown quite a bit since the Daily Show clip:
For you Europeans, here it is compared to Switzerland:
Or South Korea:
It wasn't also awful and terrifying it would be a pretty fun game.
Hat tip: Strange Maps
Looking to avoid the crowds this summer? Check out this tourist density heat map (click the link for the interactive zoomable version) designed by Bluemoon Interactive. The map uses the number of photos from a given location uploaded to Google geotagged photo-sharing site Panoramio to judge an area's touristyness. It's not perfect -- I have a hard time believing that central France is less touristy than say, Bosnia -- but it's a pretty good guide to how to get off the beaten path.
I remember back in the dark ages of 2009 when making maps from geotagged photo data was a crazy new idea.
This map from the Modern Language Association shows concentration of speakers' foreign languages in the United States. The map above is Spanish but it will let you see anything from Armenian to Yiddish. You can look at individual states too.
(Hat tip: King of all social media Ethan Zuckerman's Twitter feed.)
Over the last six months, more than 170 luxury cars have been set on fire in Berlin. Authorities are blaming the mysterious crime spree on left-wing radicals. But this is Google-age radicalism, as Australia's The Age explains:
A mysterious, single page website, brennende-autos.de (Burning Cars of Berlin), shows the number of cars set alight and where the crimes occurred, revealing clusters in ‘‘richer’’ areas, or in suburbs where gentrification and redevelopment are changing the demographic of local neighbourhoods.
Here a link to the page. Weird stuff.
Hat tip: Boing Boing
Fiber optic fever has hit East Africa. On Friday, June 12, the 4,500 kilometer (2,790 mile) East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) underwater cable connected the Kenyan port town of Mombasa with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and is expected to begin operating within three months.
"Until now, the eastern Africa coast was the longest coastline in the
world without a fiber-optic cable connection to the rest of the world," Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki said at the launch ceremony after the cables were pulled ashore.
This great map by Steve Song shows where things will be in a few years with line thickness representing bandwith size. The TEAMS cable (green on map above) is one of three international fiber optic cables expected to reach East Africa this year.
The next (red on map) is constructed by SEACOM, a private company in partnership with a number of African companies. It has already landed, to less fanfare because the Kenyan government has a stake in TEAMS, and is supposed to be ready by the end of June, connecting East Africa to Europe and Asia. The third, the East African Marine Cable System (EASSy) is sponsored by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector wing of the World Bank and is scheduled to be finished in 2010 (blue on map).
When the cables go online, they will replace satellite connections as the main source of internet access in Africa, increasing speed, reliability and reducing cost. This should improve productivity and allow increased access with the lower price. In Kenya, the internet company Access Kenya has already pledged that the new cables will double internet speed for its users, and companies are scrambling buy access to the broadband and to finalize internal fiber optic cables. Neighboring landlocked states like Uganda and Rwanda are seeking to do the same.
As interconnectivity between
African countries increases, economic benefits are expected, especially
in Kenya, which has a fast developing IT sector. Other potential impacts include education and access to media.
For a good visual of all the submarine internet cables operating or being built worldwide, check out this Alcatel-Lucent map (pdf).The more connections, the faster information can move. Most major websites are still hosted in the United States and Europe, but as Africa's wired status improves, this could change, and locally hosted data is much faster to access.
Via Jason Kottke. My favorite? The subterranean realm of long-dead Smithsonian Institution moth expert Harrison Gray Dyar, who dug "almost a quarter mile of tunnels" beneath his home in Washington:
The text, from a 1932 issue of Modern Mechanics and Invention, reads:
ONE of the oddest hobbies in the world is that of Dr. H. G. Dyar, international authority on moths and butterflies of the Smithsonian Institution, who has found health and recreation in digging an amazing series of tunnels beneath his Washington home.
Almost a quarter of a mile of tunnels has been completed, lined with concrete. The deepest passage, illustrated in the accompanying diagram, extends 32 feet down.
Every bit of earth was removed unaided by Dr. Dyar, being carried out in pails. He found the tunnel-digging an appealing form of exercise to relieve the intense strain of his work day, which involved much close work with high-power microscopes.
The catacombs are constructed in three levels, with steps and iron pipe ladders leading between different tiers. The idea first came to Dr. Dyar when he sought to make an underground entrance to his furnace cellar.
Anyone know if the tunnels are still around? According to Pamela M. Henson, they got Dyar in a bit of trouble:
During the 1920s Dyar's most peculiar hobby came to light. When a truck fell into a labyrinth of tunnels near Dyar's old home in 1924, newspaper speculation attributed these to World War I spy nests, Civil War trysts, and mad scientists. Eventually Dyar accepted responsibility for the tunnels and similar works behind his new home, saying he found relaxation in digging underground. The brick-walled tunnels extended for hundreds of feet and measured six by six feet.
View the whole collection here.
Posted this one during the Olympics last year but am re-posting in honor of tomorrow's anniversary:
Freedom House's Ellen Bork along with the Weekly Standard's design director Philip Chalk and Tiananmen survivor Tian Jian have created this map for Beijing tourists interested in visiting the sites of the June 4, 1989 massacre of the Tiananmen Square protestors. Each number shows the place where where one of the 176 victims were killed or the hospitals to which their bodies were taken.
Here's a bonus Tuesday Map for you cartophiles out there: a Google Earth file of North Korea pulled together by Curtis Melvin, a Ph.D. student at George Mason University. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Mr. Melvin is at the center of a dozen or so citizen snoops who have spent the past two years filling in the blanks on the map of one of the world's most secretive countries. Seeking clues in photos, news reports and eyewitness accounts, they affix labels to North Korean structures and landscapes captured by Google Earth, an online service that stitches satellite pictures into a virtual globe. The result is an annotated North Korea of rocket-launch sites, prison camps and elite palaces on white-sand beaches.
"It's democratized intelligence," says Mr. Melvin.
More than 35,000 people have downloaded Mr. Melvin's file, North Korea Uncovered. It has grown to include thousands of tags in categories such as "nuclear issues" (alleged reactors, missile storage), dams (more than 1,200 countrywide) and restaurants (47). Its Wikipedia approach to spying shows how Soviet-style secrecy is facing a new challenge from the Internet's power to unite a disparate community of busybodies.
(Hat tip: Kottke)
The invaluable Strange Maps blog shares this intriguing theoretical map of Europe designed by Dutch beer tycoon Freddy Heineken. A dedicated Europhile, Heineken believed that smaller nations within a larger European framework would be more manageable in the post-Cold War era. In 1992, he coauthored a pamhplet titled "The United States of Europe (a Eurotopia?)," which included the above proposal for a new Europe comprised of small territories of roughly equal, ethnically homogernous populations. Click here for the full list of countries.
Heineken's map actually predicts the breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia with some accuracy. Interestingly, he also seems to be proposing a united Ireland.
This wasn't the creative Heineken's only eccentric idea to make the world a better place. He also once proposed bottling his beer in square bottles that could be recycled as bricks to build houses in developing countries.
To accompany Fareed Zakaria's cover story on "learning to live with radical Islam," Newsweek created an interactive map showing the state of religious freedom throughout the world. Unfortunately they made one tiny little error in the last part of the world where you want to do this kind of thing:
The map shown is, of course, not the Palestinian Territories, but Israel.
I can only imagine the phone calls they're getting on West 57th St. It's clearly an honest mistake rather than anything nefarious, but as someone who's done fact-checking for Newsweek, it's still kind of painful to see.
Geography Professor Thomas Gillespie of UCLA has employed a technique typically used for tracking endangered species in order to pinpoint the most likely location of the world's most wanted terrorist. In a paper (pdf) published in the MIT International Review Gillespie describes how he used biogeographic data including bin Laden's last known location, cultural background, security needs, declining health, limited mobility and height to create a mathematical model that he claims will show where the terror mastermind is hiding.
According to Gillespie, Osama is riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight about here:
More specifically, he found a 90 percent chance that bin Laden is in Kurram province in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, most likely in the town of Parachinar which gave shelter to a larger number of Mujahedin during the 1980s. Here's a closer look at the region with Osama probabilities shown:
Gillespie even identified three buildings in Parachinar that would make the most likely shelters for Bin Laden and his entourage. Here's one of them:
The exact coordinates are N. 33.901944° E.70.093746°. Anyone want to go check it out?
Images: The MIT International Review
Anyone know how to say "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated," in Japanese? Not suprisingly, the land of the rising sun blows away the competition on IEEE Spectrum's robot density map:
I guess it's impressive, but this sort of thing makes me very worried for them.
(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)
Using data from the Department of Homeland Security, Northwestern University grad student Ian Stevenson created this gorgeous animation showing the flow of immigrants into the U.S. over time, color-coded by their regional origin. Each dot represents 100 people:
(Hat tip: Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward)
This week's map comes from our benevolent overlords at WashingtonPost.com. The TimeSpace map, which you can find on the Post's "World" page, is an interesting new way to visualize the day's news from the post's reporters around the globe. You can adjust the timeframe of the stories you see on the slider at the bottom of the map:
If you zoom in on Washington D.C, you can see the latest Passport posts. You may even be able to find the post you're reading right now, though that risks opening up an Escher-like metaphysical vortex with Large Hadron Collider-like destructive powers. If this happens, the Washington Post Company will not be held responsible for the consequences.
If you haven't yet had a chance to read E.J. Graff's superb piece "The Lie We Love" from our November/December issue, it's now available for free on ForeignPolicy.com. The piece is an exploration of the dark side of global adoption and the myth that millions of healthy babies are waiting for adoption in the developing world. Too often, Graff argues, these infants are "manufactured" to meet Western demand.
To accompany the piece, Brandeis University's Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism has put together this online map showing the countries where the most serious adoption irregularities occur. Click through for in depth country data and check back as more countries are added:
Ronald Reagan was almost right. The actual scariest words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I know where you can score some weed."
The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy was trying to prove a point on its blog about the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in California by noting that there are now more of them than there are Starbucks locations in downtown San Francisco. To bolster their point, the agency's bloggers included this handy Google Maps mashup:
As Wired's Threat Level blog noted, the narcs' map also serves as an excellent guide for anyone who might be looking for one of these establishments, or... you know... really in the mood for some Starbucks.
So good work, ONDCP! I hope all those latté-sipping, pot-smoking San Franciscans appreciate your efforts.
The International Chamber of Commerce's Commercial Crime Services have created a live map showing pirate attacks around the world, as they are reported to the International Martime Bureau. The map shows only attacks from 2008:
As you can see, the gulf of Aden, where a Saudi oil tanker was hijacked by Somali pirates yesterday, is by far the world's most dangerous area for pirate activity. It's hardly the only hotspot, though. West Africa and Indonesia also have a troublingly large pirate problem.
Head over to their site to zoom in on the text and get info on the energy treasures and potential military flashpoints in this region. Borgerson writes:
The opening of a new waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is akin in historic significance to the opening of the Suez Canal, in 1869, or is Panamanian cousin, in 1914. With this sea change will come the rise and fall of international seaports, newfound access to nearly a quarter of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas reserves, and a recalibration of geo-strategic power.
There's also an online-only video of his recent research trip to the Arctic.
Too many bank failures and bailouts to keep track of as the financial pandemic makes its way around the globe? Try this new interactive global credit crisis map from Reuters, which shows countries that have been impacted and what measures they've taken in response:
Eat your heart out RealClearPolitics. This week's map, put together by the good folks at The Economist, shows how the whole wide world is leaning in the 2008 election. With a month to go, Obama's pretty much got the imaginary global election in the bag:
It looks like McCain can only count on Georgia, (guess that "We are all Georgians" speech did the trick) but has a good shot at Macedonia. Any of our occasional Macedonian commenters want to chime in? It also looks like Obama's support in Slovakia is soft. Better get Scarlett Johansson and will.i.am on the next flight to Bratislava.
This week's map is the centerpiece of The Box, a new multimedia project from the BBC. The producers have painted an ordinary shipping container with the BBC logo, outfitted it with a GPS transmitter, and released it into the wilds of global shipping routes. Along the way, the Beeb will be producing video and text content on trade and globalization, based on the box's activities.
You can follow the progress with only a few hours delay here. After its launch last Monday, the box picked up a shipment of scotch whisky in Glasgow and is now back in the South of England waiting to be shipped off to East Asia.
Also be sure to watch Declan Curry's feature on how the standardization of shipping containers made much of what we call globalization possible. It's truly one of the more underrated technological innovations of recent history.
(Hat tip: Ethan Zuckerman)
This map illustrates the structural damage wrought to villages between Kekhvi and Tskhinvali as of August 19, 2008, just three days after Russia signed a ceasefire bringing the Russian-Georgia war over the region to a close. Buildings either completely collapsed or with less than 50 percent of its roof still intact appear in red; those with visible structural damage to a wall or roof are marked in orange.
Interestingly (read: disturbingly), the map notes:
An important preliminary finding of this satellite damage analysis is the observed heavy concentration of damages within clearly defined residential areas."
Passport, FP’s flagship blog, brings you news and hidden angles on the biggest stories of the day, as well as insights and under-the-radar gems from around the world.