Sunday, October 17, 2010

There's a map for that

A few years ago when I was in grad school I took a class called the Geography of Health and Disease. It ended up being one of my favorites. One of the projects I did was to research if there was a relationship between the 'broken window effect' and sexually transmitted diseases. The city that I focused this research on was Baltimore and I discovered that there was a strong relationship between these factors, even when controlling for many other influences. Anyway, this would probably only interest you if you are an epidemiology nerd such as myself. But even if you aren't interested in the disease aspect, per se, the broken window effect is an absolutely interesting phenomenon and totally related to design. To sum it up, it really just speaks to the way that the environment you live in is such a key factor influencing our lives. Just like a plant can grow and thrive given good conditions or can wither and fade due to hostile ones, we too as humans are very much impacted by the surroundings we encounter on a daily basis. Anyway, that class made me love maps!

A few weeks ago I was doing a little blog reading and stumbled upon one that featured the maps of  Eric Fischer. I'm sorry, but I didn't make a note of who's blog it was. These beautiful maps are really art in and of themselves and would look stunning if blown up and hung on a wall in a modern apartment or home. 

The thing that makes me sad when looking at these maps though is how still racially divided we still are with regard to where we live. In these maps, the red dots represent Caucasian, blue dots are Black, green dots are Asian, orange are Hispanic, Gray is Other and each dot is 25 people. Of course we could go on a rant of what these categories even mean (as for myself I am English, Portuguese, Scottish, and Jamaican... although if I went way back I'm originally Middle Eastern or African depending on who you ask :) ). Anyway, last week I heard the famous civil war historian James McPherson speak. While he was talking I got thinking about these maps. Its frustrating because all these people who fought for 'equality' and yet there is still so much inequality hundreds of years later. So, even though these maps are very pretty and colorful, my hope is that one day these maps will look very different and these racial distinctions will be less and less necessary.

Baltimore

New York City

Chicago

Miami

Detroit

I know this may be a controversial post, but lets make sure to always keep comments loving :)

3 comments:

Krystal said...

that broken window effect is interesting - I guess I had always assumed that (since I"m so affected by my own surroundings on a much smaller scale) but never knew there was an actual theory!

Lady Grey said...

Fascinating. I've never heard of that theory before, but it makes complete sense to me.

Hilary said...

Hey! Great post on theses maps! ...It was my blog you were reading, by the way;)

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