Mapping examples using the Unfolding library

Jan 27, 2012 | AHO, Code, Geo / locative, Open source, Processing / Java, Workshops

While preparing for teaching a course in data tracking I was very happy to discover the excellent Unfolding library for making interactive maps in Processing. Unfolding makes it possible to create just about any kind of tile-based mapping application with a minimum of code, simple map drawing typically coming in <20 lines. It's perfect for visualizing FourSquare, OpenPaths, GeoRSS or any other kind of geo-based data. Now if I could only figure out how to control the timing of the map tweening, right now it feels more like jump cuts than smooth pans.

Here are three examples showing a simple map display and two demos using geo data from OpenPaths in CSV format:

Update: The lecture notes about infoviz and self-ethnography are online on Scribd, it’s basically the same lecture as two years ago.

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Data, data, data

Apr 11, 2010 | Code, Open source, Theory

Ever since doing Stockspace project it seems I am getting asked to do data-related work. This despite the fact that my personal interests diverge from such masters of insightful infographics as Martin Wattenberg, David McCandless or Jonathan Harris.

Suffice to say that I am more concerned with exploring data structures as spaces than I am with providing new understandings of the information contained within them. Manuel Lima’s Information Visualization Manifesto calls for a seriousness on the topic of data treatments, while my projects remain comfortably frivolous.

Recently I’ve been working on a project that has required researching data sources and adapting them to illustrate a bigger idea, which has led to much Googling in the absence of good data from the client. Sometimes you find the right thing immediately, but sometimes data is hard to find in a format that is freely available and easily parsable. Since I have found some good sources I thought I’d share them here…

Miscellaneous free data

I would be interested in hearing tips about any great data sets out there, particularly interesting time series data.

Miska Knapek recently sent me a link to a source of weather sensor data from Helsinki, including measurements of wind direction at the top of Helsinki’s Olympic Tower in 5-minute intervals. He has already made some wind visualization videos and some fabricated wind data sculptures based on this data.

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Geo: All geo coordinates from Wikipedia

Oct 28, 2006 | Geo / locative, Open source

Stefan Kühn, a cartographer at the University Trier, Germany, has extracted all the geo coordinates embedded in articles on Wikipedia. The WikiProject Geographical coordinates is a Wikipedia project for ensuring standardized geocoding of locations in its articles.

Google Earth fans bent on instant gratification can simply download a KMZ file and start surfing. But more importantly, coders and infoviz geeks can get a comma-separated text file (CSV) with coordinates, titles and Wikipedia categories for all points.

Link: Geocoordinates from Wikipedia for Google Earth

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More Flickr geo fun

Jul 29, 2006 | Flickr, Geo / locative

Sao Paulo on Google Earth

Satellite image of Sao Paulo from Google Earth

I recently returned from a week in Sao Paulo for the opening of the excellent Art.ficial Emotion 3.0 exhibition at Itau Cultural. Following my recent Flickr addiction I documented the show in a Flickr set, a lot of which is geotagged. It’s worth noting that Aemkei has released a new version of his excellent Flickr geotagging bookmarklet, which caches the previous location found and automatically adds a “see where this picture was taken” link to the photo description.

Another fun tool I’ve been experimenting with is Roblog’s Flickrfly. It is a script which will allow you to “fly” to the location of a geotagged image in Google Earth. Just add a simple link to your image description and Flickrfly takes care of the KML file, including overlaying a thumbnail of your photo on the Google Earth map. The image above was taken in Google Earth, and if you look at the original size on Flickr you will see 4 small thumbnails indicating different images and their actual location.

Do have a look at what Sao Paulo looks like from space, it’s a bit like watching cancer grow. And I liked it there.

Bonus geo links (see Toxi / TomC)

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Geotagging Flickr

Jun 17, 2006 | Flickr, Geo / locative, Open source


Geotagged Flickr photos in Google Earth via (

Last year I picked up a cheap GPS unit just for fun, which I have since used to collect GPS traces that I have yet to use for anything useful. I find the whole idea of geotagging quite fascinating, but have never built any applications using it.

Currently I’m in Vienna as artist-in-residence at the MuseumsQuartier, and so I’ve been taking quite a few pictures and putting them on Flickr as documentation. By accident I have met the street artist Space Invader, who is currently here “invading” Vienna. He puts up space invader mosaics in public places, and then documents them in the form of a map. This activity mixes a lot of interesting topics: Urban space, street art, locative media, psychogeography etc. So of course I thought this was a perfect chance to put geotagging to the test.

So far my activities have been those of an end-user rather than a developer. I put pictures on Flickr and geotag them with this excellent bookmarklet. Almost all my Vienna pictures are geotagged, for examples see Invader #1 and Invader #2.

Once tagged, it would be useful to be able to browse these images in a geographical intergace. is a home-brewed site that allows you to sign in to your Flickr account and see your geotagged pictures on Google Maps. If you “sync” your pictures they get added to the database, in which case you can browse them with Google Earth. You will also be able to see all other pictures in the database at a given location, with thumbnails and links back to Flickr.

During my residency I hope to be able to document all the Invaders that get put up in Vienna, complete with geotags.

Relevant links:

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