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There is no spoon

Via Flowing Data, a fantastic site which explores data visualisation, is this beautiful map of the United States, developed by just one person, Ben Fry.

Ben Fry's map of the US

Only, there’s a catch.

This map has no topograhical features. It has no geopolitical features. You can see rivers and mountains, but it maps neither. You can identify cities, states, suburbs, but it maps none of these.

There is no map.

This is a visualisation of every road and street in the United States. And nothing else.

Here’s what Fry has done

The data in this piece comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s TIGER/Line data files. The data is first parsed and filtered (to remove non-street features) using Perl. Next, using Processing, the latitude and longitude coordinates are transformed using an Albers equal-area conic projection (which gives it that curvy surface-of-the-Earth look that we’re used to), and then plotted to an enormous image that’s saved to the disk.

Extraordinary stuff.

Fry is the author of Visualizing Data, published by O’Reilly.

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