Snapshots of a progression

by wonderfullyrich on January 22, 2009

I have two maps that are worth comparing and considering.

This one from Maps of the 2008 US presidential election results which is a cartagram or “a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population” by Mark Newman.

Mark Newmans 2008 US presidential County Cartogram

Mark Newman's 2008 US presidential County Cartogram

Also this one, from fivethirtyeight.com who also did a cartogram by district of the 111th congress.

Cartograph by districts of 111th US House of Representatives

Cartograph by districts of 111th US House of Representatives

These are both important to think about because they convey quite a bit of useful information, assuming you have a context for the data in these maps.  The contrast show’s how the population representation is being affected by gerrymandering.  It describes the changing demographics from a split semi-rural nation to a very distinctly urban and sub-urban nation.  It reflects the economic power reality of the U.S. in terms of population.  Of course it also directly indicates the center of party power, and reflects ideology.

We are one nation, but we are still so large that in many cases we are disconnected from peoples within our own populous.  We have no good understanding of who our fellow citizens are and what they think.  Furthermore it has hit home with me recently that human beings, as much as we like to think we are in control and live in a perpetual state of free will, are indeed products of the environment around them.  We are very much irrational, even when we think we are being rational and dictating our own future.

These maps represent the status quo and are a snapshot of a progression (the same as if we were to simulate evolution in a computer model).  Some times we go one direction, some times we head another, but even though on an individual level we have no direction and it feels like things are flopping around, life tends to move in a path that is adaptive and survivable.

My hope is that we live in a world where this is also true of the technology that is helping to shape our society today.  We have more and will continue to build new methods by which we can leap forward and or self-destruct.  Hopefully our existence is redundant enough to survive the destructive capabilities, and creative enough to punctuate our leaps…

P.S. More maps that are fasinating and useful are also here at Whose your City)

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