Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

Nice Map

Just in case you thought things couldn’t get any nerdier, here’s a good piece from Slate on what it takes to make a great map:

According to independent cartographers I spoke with, the big mapmaking corporations of the world employ type-positioning software, placing their map labels (names of cities, rivers, etc.) according to an algorithm. For example, preferred placement for city labels is generally to the upper right of the dot that indicates location. But if this spot is already occupied—by the label for a river, say, or by a state boundary line—the city label might be shifted over a few millimeters. Sometimes a town might get deleted entirely in favor of a highway shield or a time zone marker. The result is a rough draft of label placement, still in need of human refinement. Post-computer editing decisions are frequently outsourced—sometimes to India, where teams of cheap workers will hunt for obvious errors and messy label overlaps. The overall goal is often a quick and dirty turnaround, with cost and speed trumping excellence and elegance.

Who knew?

January 2, 2012 // This post is about: , , ,


  • Jon Spooner says:

    I read the same article and was impressed with his attention to detail and hours spent making this perfect map.

    But to my (unrefined in terms of cartography) taste I’m not yet sold on his being so much better than the regular maps. I mean I can see the attention to detail and the removal of overlaps etc. but making the state lines all Green doesn’t quite make it all that much easier to use. And the thought behind removal of certain small towns along the coast near Chicago didn’t quite make sense (since Im not familiar with the Chicago area).

    His site has been down since the article was published but a cached version reveals that he is selling copies of the map for $39 so once his bandwidth gets back in line I might purchase one.

  • Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Don't sweat it.