Projects related to visualizing geographic data.

What even is a nation?
Also, a foray into the world of academic publishing.

Geographical historian Kären Wigen and historical geographer Martin Lewis of Stanford University (two of my all-time favorite job titles, when taken together) are breaking from the traditional modes of academic publication by publishing their latest work, Seduced by the Map, in a multimedia, online, open-access format.

The work critiques the idea of the ubiquitous "nation-state," a phrasing which suggests that the nation, a self-conscious political community, aligns with the state, a sovereign government ruling a clearly demarcated territory. They argue this paradigm has been reinforced by the ubiquitous mapping of the world as a collection of stable nation-states. Despite these compelling visual illusions of coherence and stability, the nation-state is more of an aspiration than a historical fact.

Currently, only the first three chapters are online, but you can find them, along with some videos (such as this one which dives into the details of the CIA's map of the world), slides, and the titles of the forthcoming chapters, at

Where are all of the trees?
Here they are.

Have you ever wondered where all of the trees in San Francisco are located? I haven't, but this visualization is interesting nonetheless - see all of the trees within a certain radius of some location (very few in the Sunset, lots in the Fillmore), or identify patterns based on species (lots of plums on Divisadero).

This is an class project from more than three years ago, explaining why it contains random features and little analytical purpose.

Check out the interactive visualization here.

Trees, Bikes, and Crime
Stanford, by the data

In 2012, Stamen Design published a "Trees, Cabs, and Crime" map of San Francisco. The map overlaid the locations of trees, cab routes, and reported crimes in an attempt to present an image of the city through a unique lens. The visualization displayed the social and atmospheric geography of San Francisco, allowing its viewers to see the shapes of urban and natural spaces, while keeping the map uncluttered by removing street names, neighborhood divisions, artificial borders, as well as the various associations viewers have with those constructs. I decided to do something similar for Stanford.

While official maps of the campus produced by the university are often overloaded with street names, bus stops, and building numbers, such maps convey very little about the character and atmosphere of the places they depict. By contrast, I hope to help viewers discern the characteristics of different locales in Stanford’s campus, from the bustling quad to the large plots of undeveloped wooded land. Although the different environments may seem obvious to the students, faculty, and others who spend their days on the campus, my map formalizes these environments and grounds them in data.

The data-richness of the map means it takes a while to load, so here is an image of it. If you desire the original in all of its SVG glory, it can be found here. Enter at your own risk. I've had to restart my computer more times than I can count for that page. To strike a balance between quality and mental stability, check out this pdf version.