The NY Times published an article that uses Facebook “likes” by zip code to map out college football loyalty. It’s interesting to see how the mapped data shows whole states where one college dominates while some states are carved up into niches. Check out what team your neighbors are rooting for.
An Oregon cartographer by the name of David Imus spent 6,000 hours to create an absolutely brilliant wall map of the US. He places labels in ways that are useful and easy to read (no algorithms used). Imus captured important bits of info that are generally ignored like ferry routes and his attention to detail is amazing. I’m hoping to be able to purchase one in the future.
Read Slate’s article on the map here.
Most of my professional life has revolved around GIS (Geographical Information Systems). GIS is a mapping application that is used by many disciplines to visualize and map data. GIS systems use tabular data along with spatial data so that patterns can be seen and interpreted.
All kinds of data can be mapped such as demographic, environmental, medical, etc. There are many kinds of GIS systems available, some are pricey and some are available for free. GIS does have a steep learning curve, but once you understand how it works you use the same principles to just about all GIS platforms.
If you are interested in learning more about cartography and GIS check out this article from the Smithsonian on the history of GIS.