Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The Summer 2011 issue of ArchitectureBoston featured a very cool spin on maps of Massachusetts that re-envision municipal boundaries based on different data sources. They write:
Google “upside down maps,” and you will discover an entire industry based on the thrill of messing with our perceptions. Change the premises on which a map is based, and your understanding of the world changes, too. Put South at the top, Asia at the center—well, you can see why management consultants love these things.The map of Massachusetts below, taken from the magazine's feature, shows municipalities reorganized based on the the nearest Dunkin' Donuts shop, using Dunkin’ Donuts locations from POI Factory. Click the image for the full set of maps.
The famous “blue marble” photo of Earth from space, free of any geopolitical boundaries, is credited with promoting the environmental movement. More recently, and far more subtly, Google Maps is continuing to change our perceptions. Zoomed in past state borders, the maps dispense with municipal boundaries; the lines that are important are roadways.
Whatever that might say about our cultural values or Google’s canny understanding of consumer needs, it does suggest a tantalizing prospect: What if those boundaries were actually erased? How would we redraw them? And how could new municipal boundaries better align government with our needs today?