10’000’000 Foursquare Users

Posted: July 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Manifestations | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Somebody brought to my attention again the Foursquare user adoption animation they created in honour of their 10 millionth member. A great achievement for Foursquare and just the beginning of many more awesome things I am sure.

In the animation, if you look at the still at August of 2009, you see the US gaining some traction and this flare across the pond. That is Amsterdam where at the time Foursquare was being adopted hand over fist.

Foursquare 10e6

The story behind that is somewhat interesting and has been told, but this graphic does make it poignant again. Having visited SxSWi that last March, Robert Gaal and myself saw the launch of Foursquare and quickly got hooked. That was the year that location had not been played out yet at all, Latitude was fresh, Fire Eagle was still relevant and Brightkite was being used. Location was on the cusp.

Back in the Netherlands we quickly got in touch with the guys to get the service launched here. We thought waiting would probably result in the Netherlands being served last (as usual). After some back and forth we got everything up and running and Amsterdam was the first international city on Foursquare. The rest is history as can be seen in the graph.

 

 

 


Personal Mapping Platforms

Posted: January 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Research, Statlas | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

For the project Statlas we are looking into making a personal mapping platform for journalists. We submitted the grant proposal for this almost half a year ago and the idea had been alive for far longer (we started about this time last year).

It’s good to sea that there is a wider trend in consumer mapping platforms right when we are underway with ours. Here’s a brief survey of the ones we found during a cursory examination. There are bound to be more. If you know them, please let us know in the comments.

ArcGIS

ArcGIS has a mapping platform based probably on the ArcGIS server, a paid for cloud mapping platform.

ArcGIS - My Map

Looks nice, like a web based version of Google Maps combined with Google Earth with all the different overlays you can put on there. I tried to create a map and share it on Facebook which oddly enough did not work. The sharing, embedding and standalone map versions do look well thought out but if they don’t work they’re probably not tested well.


View Larger Map

ESRI

ESRI the company behind ArcGIS has another ‘Make a map’ tool which is a lot more restricted but because of that provides a clearer experience.

Make a Map | Free Embeddable Maps | Embed Map Web Page | Embedded Maps

This doesn’t offer a ridiculous amount of options, but it is very clear and nicely done and the sharing options are also very straight forward. An embed of that map is below:

Dotspotting

Dotspotting is Stamen‘s platform for putting dots on a map currently in its ‘SUPER ALPHA-BETA-DISCO-BALL VERSION’. As they describe it, it’s intended to make the process of visualizing city data easier, more open and more robust.

That is pretty much the same reasons we started on this road in the first place. Mapping and data literacy are necessary in web development as well as the other way around: web literacy is necessary for those that make the heavy-duty maps. The two need to meet to create the applications and ease of use we are looking for.

Dotspotting - "My Flickr Photos (Sept 2010)", a sheet of dots by straup

A script to export my Foursquare checkins in an easy way and create a sheet with those is forthcoming. Anyway, Statlas is best described as that: a way to project values onto regions and enable people to play with that dynamic.

Weet meer

Weet Meer got launched very recently in a beta release and is limitedly available up until next month. It does a decent job in displaying the statistics offered by the CBS and offers some statistical relations and tools to compare things with.

Weetmeer.nl - Aantal inwoners

That is a brief overview of what is already out there. We’re glad that we have hit a nice timing to be able to develop ours and fulfill an actual need out there: to be easily able to make maps of a set of values to a group of regions.


Statlas: Week 0

Posted: December 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Statlas | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The technology demo of Dutchstats as presented during Hack de Overheid last year has been a nice trigger for further development along that axis. For now the project under codename Dutchstats2 —a new name and identity is forthcoming— will be underway.

nl.alper.processing.map.DrawWKT

We got the announcement a couple of weeks ago that our proposal for subsidy had been accepted. We spent December gauging interest, taking in the project and building a team that can execute this in Q1 2011. Team introductions forthcoming after we’ve kicked it off.

The Brief

The assignment is still the same one that prompted the original Dutchstats:

Given a set of values for a set of geographical regions visualize the mapping from the values to the regions in a way that is interesting, useful and pleasant.

Simple enough to be doable. Broad enough to be generally applicable.

The original Dutchstats was mainly concerned with Dutch municipalities as geographical regions and election results as values and we will be continuing along that line, but we will be looking into opening up both the values and also the geographical regions for anybody who has something to contribute to either. The idea is to create a generative atlas.

Atlas

A generative atlas mostly to see if we can give the concept of an atlas new currency in the online world.

In the Netherlands there is an atlas called the Grote Bosatlas which still is the standard atlas for everybody in and out of school. But asking people around the question: when is the last time you have even thought of an atlas, let alone got and leaved through a Bosatlas, everybody draws a complete blank. Google Maps has supplanted most of the topographical and wayfinding functionality of paper maps and atlases to the extent that it has wiped out the original concept out of people’s heads.

Multi-Map

The social geographical function of the atlas has been replaced by a ton of projects working either with or on Google Maps/Earth using GIS or placing points on the map (using location or geocoded data), Stamen’s Dotspotting is a good example of that. Besides those web centric approach there’s also a slew of closed/semi-closed mapping tools from statistical offices, government bodies etc. that are built on poor and closed technology and are limited to the task at hand (which they usually do poorly at that).

BLIK

Technology

We’re going to determine as we go the technology that we’re going to use, but the project needs to be webcentric and is allowed to be bleeding edge (though perhaps not as bleeding as the original prototype) so I hope we can avoid using Flash completely.

Depending on how much of the base components are already available (data stores, tile servers, rendering engines), we will be focusing more on the application part. But if such components are not yet available or up to par, we will be investing in building them ourselves.

Process

In our practice we believe in standing on the shoulders of giants, sharing alike and giving credit where credit is due. We will be doing this project completely in the open not because we don’t have a customer for it but because everybody is a potential customer and they should be able to see and participate from the earliest stages on.

Any software that we produce will be released under a very liberal open source license. So that anybody can use our stuff and we hope to advance the state of mapping online in our own modest amount. Also all our design research and progress will be posted to this blog in chunks of a week or a bit more (depending on our sprints).

Fully open is the only way we can imagine doing this. We hope you will join us.


Information Compression on Paper

Posted: December 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration, Manifestations | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The first of these cards have made their way out into the public so I think it’s time to show them to the world at large. They are the first step in rolling out the graphic style we have come up with in a collaborative creative process with the awesome graphic designers at Buro Pony in Rotterdam.

Spotted by Kars Alfrink at the Dutch Game Garden:
Checking out Alper's hella sweet Monsterswell cards designed by BUROPONY

The front of the card bears a logo of which there are two currently consisting of the text Monster Swell in all caps in Akzidenz-Grotesk —a choice font— occluded by a waveform image. That is conceptually consistent and pretty straight forward.

The backside of the card is a pastiche of a map/infographic to get a handle on the regular clutter you see on business cards. We’ve tried to make clear choices, compress the content and make it readable for those familiar with these kind of graphics and those who are not:
monterswell_details

It was a lot of fun and productive working with the Ponies and expect a collaboration on their side of the Randstad in 2011. We’re pretty pleased with how the cards turned out and we hope you like them too.