Note: Much apologies for skipping the September issue of Monthly Maps. To compensate, here’s a double issue filled with fantastic cartographies.

Guernica Magazine has published an excerpt of an interview with Denis Wood, iconic critical cartographer, from his last book titled “Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas“. Let us begin this double issue with Wood’s penetrating analysis of what maps do:


Denis Wood: Maps are just nude pictures of reality, so they don’t look like arguments. They look like “Oh my god, that’s the real world.” That’s one of the places where they get their kick-ass authority. Because we’re all raised in this culture of: if you want to know what a word means, go to the dictionary; if you want to know what the longest river in the world is, look it up in an encyclopedia; if you want to know where some place is, go to an atlas. These are all reference works and they speak “the truth.” When you realize in the end that they’re all arguments, you realize this is the way culture gets reproduced. Little kids go to these things and learn these things and take them on, and they take them on as “this is the way the world is.”

The fabulous neogeographers at the Oxford Internet Institute used Alexa data to identify the most visited websites in each country, and mapped it as an old colonial style choropleth map of ‘Internet empires’. Do not miss another map included in the same page, which uses hexagonal cartograms to qualify the most-visited websites in each country by the population of Internet users in the same country.

oxford internet institute - age of internet empires

Continue reading

It has been a while since we started writing in a consistent pace. But somehow, I see that happening now. Today, we will see how to organize and align your data so that you can make a map or two out of it.

We often deal with data in CSV formats, which potentially can be visualized as a map. Let’s start with a sample file.

code district boys_appeared girls_appeared total_appeared boys_passed girls_passed total_passed pass_% rank
GA UDUPI 8013 8058 16071 6852 7537 14389 89.53 1
PA SIRSI 4582 4633 9215 3955 4183 8138 88.31 2
LL HASSAN 11783 11968 23751 9722 10685 20407 85.92 3
DD TUMKUR 12312 11085 23397 10305 9780 20085 85.84 4

The table above shows the first few rows from a CSV file containing SSLC results in Karanataka for the year 2012. You can download the complete file here. The contents of the file and what each row means is very evident from the column headers.

The column of interest for you right now should be ‘district’. We will now use this column to make a map from this data. The process of converting an address or part of an address to a geographic coordinate is called geocoding. We will geocode this data to find the latitude and longitude of the districts.

There are several ways of geocoding data – from free and easy APIs to comprehensive as well as expensive ones. Two of our favourites are: Batch Geocode and the MapBox Google Docs Geo plugin. We will use the second one for this exercise.


Continue reading