Playlist: 6 talks on mapmaking to help you find your way

Henk van Houtum at TEDxYouth@Maastricht

Henk van Houtum at TEDxYouth@Maastricht (Photo: TEDxYouth@Maastricht)

Maps help us keep track of the wealth of data in the world — whether showing how disease spreads to the best place to hail a cab. These six TEDx Talks tackle the layered process of mapmaking, and show how maps shape how we see the world. Watch all the talks below:

Making data mean more through storytelling | Ben Wellington | TEDxBroadway
“Data storyteller” Ben Wellington analyzes official data sets from the New York City government to better understand the urban landscape. This funny, unexpected talk covers where to catch a cab in Manhattan, the most dangerous areas to cycle in Brooklyn, and where out-of-state drivers get the most parking tickets — a must-watch for any New York City residents.

Free the map: creative, artistic and democratic mapmaking | Henk van Houtum | TEDxYouth@Maastricht
Geographer Henk van Houtum imagines a new way of conceptualizing and creating maps in this talk from TEDxYouth@Maastricht. Arguing that maps today are too focused on showing political borders, van Houtum shows how cartographic methods and new technology can be combined to design maps that display different information.


Mapping the slums | Erica Hagen | TEDxGateway
In this talk from TEDxGateway, Erica Hagen illustrates how GPS technology and open data can empower underserved communities to map their own neighborhoods. Hagen’s Map Kibera project enlists volunteers to create digital maps of densely populated slums outside Nairobi that have been ignored by other official mapmaking projects.

How to build a time machine | Frederic Kaplan | TEDxCaFoscariU
Engineer Frederic Kaplan asks, “Can we build a Google Maps of the past?” His Venice Time Machine project aims to be just that, through consolidating archival information about the city that spans over a thousand years. Using advanced digital methods to analyze and visualize the data, Kaplan shows just how much detail can be extracted about the past.


Mapping Social Networks in Tunisia | Dave Troy | TEDxCarthage
Dave Troy takes a different approach to mapmaking in this talk from TEDxCarthage: instead of mapping geographical or political information, he creates visualizations of human relationships in a certain area. His data source? Twitter. Troy explores how this information can be used and what we can learn about a geographical area from its inhabitants and their behavior.

Using Google Maps to re-investigate the built environment | Jenny Odell | TEDxMarketStreet
In this TEDxMarketStreet talk, designer Jenny Odell approaches cartography by asking a fundamentally different question: what important information is purposefully left off of maps? Taking the San Francisco Bay Area as an example, Odell explains how infrastructure, such as the power grid, is left invisible on most maps, and explores the underlying reasons why.

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