Module Project 4

November 20th, 2015

Module Project 4:
Spatial Visualization and Interpretation

The goal of this project is to give you hands-on experience of creating and interpreting spatial visualizations and, on the basis of it, reflecting upon spatial visualization as a form of argumentation.

Use an existing geodataset or compile one of your own. Create two or more spatial visualizations in CartoDB by using different map styles (such as BUBBLE, CHOROPLETH, and TORQUE) and symbology (such as different methods of quantification). Provide your interpretation of each visualization. Reflect upon how different visualizations lead viewers to different (mis)interpretations. Share your interpretations and reflections in a short presentation on Thursday, December 3.

If you prefer to use an existing dataset, please check out the list of spatial datasets listed under the “Datasets” page of the course website. Feel free to use other GIS datasets you have found elsewhere, if you wish. Most datasets are available in the Excel or CSV format or as shapefiles. Shapefiles are collections of three or more associated files with the same filename but different file extensions (such as .shp, .dbf, .shx, .prj, .sbn, .shx). To import a shapefile into CartoDB is easy. Simply select all associated files, right-click to compress them into one zip file, and drag and drop the zip file into CartoDB. Official instructions for importing shapefiles into CartoDB are available here. The Technology References section of the course website has links to additional tutorials for CartoDB.

If you prefer to create your own geodataset, you have the freedom to be as creative as you would like to. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, mapping a historical event, the life of a historical figure, or spatial references in a literary text. Keep in mind that CartoDB may not be able to automatically assign longitudes and latitudes to historical places, especially those before the 19th century, and that finding longitudes and latitudes for historical places by yourself can be a challenge.

Note: The Data Library in CartoDB contains data for modern and some historical places. You are encouraged to add them to your map as new layers and merging them with other datasets you use.

Submission: When you are finished, export your maps as images (.png or .jpg). Embed your image files in your PowerPoint slides and identify the sources of your data. Submit your slides to the online drop box before class. If you have created your own dataset, submit it to the online drop box as well.

References: Mark Monmonier’s “Lying with Maps” and Maps of the 2012 US Presidential Election Results speak eloquently of how different ways of visualization offer different visual cues for interpretation.

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