Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Visualizing the Decline of Empires

Pedro Cruz created a visualization of the land mass gained and lost by the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish empires over the years. Colonies separate from their colonizers and bounce around for a little while before fading away. Land mass is shown by the size of the circles representing the empires, and the years tick by in the lower left corner of the screen.

Here in 1936, we can see the recently-separated masses of South Africa, Canada, and Iraq, color-coded to match the parent node of Britain, bouncing around. At the same time, Australia (not yet labeled) begins to bulge out of the side of the British Empire in anticipation of its own imminent release.

There is just something that is really satisfying about watching the little colonies swell up and burst out of the empires.

Read more about it and watch the video here, and check out an updated version of the visualization here. The updated version has the added bonus of keeping the former colonies onscreen (as outlines, and with labels that fade away after a few moments), and having them migrate to their geographical locations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ebb and Flow of Movies

The New York Times made an interactive visualization of how movies did in the theaters from 1986 through 2008.

The height of the section for each movie shows the weekly revenue of the film over time, the width shows how long it stayed in theaters, and the area of the shape and the deepness of the color shows the total revenue of the film during its stay in theaters. Clicking on the slice that represents a movie brings up a short synopsis of the movie and a link to the New York Times movie overview.

Interestingly, even adjusted for inflation, the visualization shows that movies today are enjoying a wider audience and more sales than they did in the late 80's and early 90's. Also, there seems to be a continuing trend that much more money is spent in theaters in December and over the summer months than over the rest of the year, though occasionally there is a spike in November, or a certain movie that does especially well in spite of having been released in late winter or early spring.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

ICA Video Contest

The International Cartographic Association has put out a call for all students, young cartographers, and map enthusiasts to create and submit short videos about modern cartography and what it means in day-to-day life. The videos should be in English, two minutes long at the most, and hosted on a website (preferably YouTube). Once the video has been uploaded, send the URL to the ICA Secretary-General at .

The winner will be awarded a cash prize, a certificate, and have his or her video shown on the ICA website ( and used to promote cartography world-wide.

The deadline for submissions is June 1st, 2012-- get those cameras rolling, and good luck!

Read more about the contest, including the full terms and conditions, here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cartography Scholars: Apply for the Ristow Prize!

Since 1994, the Washington Map Society has offered an annual Ristow Prize, a $1,000 cash award recognizing academic research achievement in the history of cartography. To be considered for the 2012 prize, full or part-time undergraduate, graduate, or first-year postdoctoral students must submit a research paper in the field of the history of cartography by June 1.

Papers should be 7,500 words or less and must have been completed in fulfillment of course requirements. Student work will be judged based on the importance of research, quality of research, and quality of writing. In addition to the cash prize, winners are also honored with a one-year membership in the Washington Map Society and publication of their paper in The Portolan, the society’s journal.

The award, designed to encourage young scholars, is named for the late Dr. Walter W. Ristow, chief of the Geography & Map Division at the Library of Congress and co-founder and first president of the Washington Map Society. University of Michigan students took home the prize in 1994 and 2006; click here to see a full list of past honorees and paper topics.

To learn more about the Ristow Prize or to submit an academic paper to the competition, click here. Good luck!