Abstract Maps Talk at CityCampKC 2013

I was fortunate to be part of the 2013 CityCampKC conference that occured 4/20 at the lovely Kauffman Foundation Conference Center

This one day unconference focuses on bringing together people from all walks of life under the banner of local community and government improvement. While a majority of the attendees appeared to be connected to the tech and startup scenes in Kansas City, I also got a chance to meet government officials, librarians, and artists from the community. The variety of people was great, with the caveat that trying to create a talk for this kind of group was difficult.

I wanted to include a bit of visualization into the mix, so decided to give a talk in the afternoon sessions. The title of my talk was “Abstract Maps for a Powerful Impact”. The premise of this talk is that while maps are an extremely potent way to tell a story with data, the ubiquitous use of Google Maps, what I would call the ‘default presets’ of online mapping, can dilute your data driven story.

So, I attempt to provide an overview of some alternatives to Google Maps, and to traditional maps in general, with applications to local data. I cover reductionist data/art techniques, Stamen Maps, cartograms, time-scale maps, and my own racial divide map.

I tried to show remixable examples of what could be used at a local level, as well as some iterations on failure. For example, my failed attempts to use dorling cartograms to display census tract data.

You can find the original talk here:

Abstract Maps for Powerful Impact

And I put it on SpeakerDeck - just for the fun of it:

It was a great chance to meet some new people. And fun to attempt to create some material around a topic that I really enjoy: Maps! I felt I went a little too lecturey, not quite hitting the right entertain/educate ratio. But you might enjoy!

Thanks to the CityCampKC organizers, Neighbor.ly, SingleWing, and everyone else involved in this great event.

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