NICAR13 Day 4, Sunday 3/3

This conference isn’t over yet! Just one more session: Mapping best practices. Up on the panel was John Keefe, Matt Stiles, and Eric Gundersen. The very first question – is a map necessary? Don’t do maps just for the sake of doing maps. And beware of maps that are basically population maps.

Some people are color blind, and there are tools to help you select colors that work for them, like Colorbrewer2 and Colororacle.

In order to tell a story, there must be a balance between exploratory control and controlled narrative. Finding this balance is key. Too much exploratory control and people get lost. Too much controlled narrative and the story ends up as an ordinary article (I guess).

When serving maps: pregenerate data – high and low resolution – in order to serve the material efficently for both browser and server. Polygons can be simplified at higher level. Use a tileserver, like TileMill for Mapbox

Someone in the audience raised the question what the panel thought about making data public. They seemed to agree that making data public makes sense in most cases. For example, by making data public, people can help correct it.

It seems there’s no single tool that can solve all mapping problems, instead there are a rather large box of tools that can help solve a lots of different problems.

The slides.

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