Reactor

Minimal Maps and Tweeted Traffic in the City

by An Xiao on February 2, 2012

A minimalist map of Paris created by Lineposters.  Image via http://lineposters.com.

A minimalist map of Paris created by Lineposters. (image via lineposters.com)

LOS ANGELES — It’s always interesting to see different schematics for visually approaching a city. So much of how we experience a new place is defined by the map in our heads, and those maps tend to be limited to subway maps and, increasingly, Google Maps.

New York City visualized through its tweets. Image via Eric Fischer.

New York City visualized through its tweets. (image via Eric Fischer)

Which is why I like minimal city maps by Lineposter. Reduced to the basic squiggles and nodes of the subway systems of major cities like New York and London, they’re instantly recognizable and yet abstracted from the usual rainbow array of subway colors and numbers. I’d like to see more cities, especially sprawling transportation networks like those in Seoul and Tokyo, or the bare bones system in Rome. But what they’ve put together so far is great.

But maybe there are other ways to see the city too.  Consider Eric Fischer’s map of the Bay Area based on geolocated tweets. While the majority of the city doesn’t tweet, this is good data for how real people actually use the city, and where they tend to concentrate. It’s fascinating to see how a place like Manhattan truly functions as a central nervous system, and how the influence dissipates the further you get from the heart. The only thing cooler would be to visualize this maze over time, rather than just space.

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