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Guest-blogging on is a tricky proposition. Since my last post the majority of things I've wanted to talk about have already been covered by our diligent host, Andrew.

Thankfully I stumbled upon this gem [] from the charts and graphs group at Flickr. It shows a 2D plot of genetic similarity across Europe, colour-coded by country, alongside a political map of Europe using the same colours. A simply striking way to illustrate the complex process of reducing a multi-dimensional data set.

Sadly though, my (admittedly brief) attempts to find more information were confounded by pay-walls, landing pages and press releases. At least the latter provides a large format image for download! It's been a while since I was in academia, but I recall fondly being able to navigate the websites of scientific journals relatively freely from a university network, and being surprised when the same links failed at home. It's a shame so much good work is done behind closed doors, and that it's difficult for those of us outside the science community to correctly attribute and follow-up on interesting research.

I did find one publicly accessible article [] though, and I'd love to read more. The methodology seems to be related to the antigenic cartography project, which thankfully has lots of information available to the public, and was written about on the O'Reilly Radar blog earlier this year after being presented at the ETech conference.

The use of side-by-side maps also reminds me of this recent map [] showing the correspondence between increases in Democrat votes in the 2008 US election and cotton production in the 1860s. Again, an effective visual comparison presented casually on the web but it's almost impossible to follow up and find more. Strange Maps has expanded on it a little bit, including matching up the maps for a closer look at the correlation.

See also: Ben Fry's genomic cartography.

Guest blogger Tom Carden is an interaction designer at Stamen Design. He has recently contributed to several successful visualization projects including MSNBC's Hurricane Tracker, Trulia Snapshot and mySociety's travel time maps.




Nice one.

The big gaps in the genetic image seem to fall roughly along mountain ranges - Alps, Pyrenees.

Tue 18 Nov 2008 at 1:39 PM

A Dutch newspaper published this version of the map. I'm not sure it's better than the ones you've posted. But one thing becomes very clear from that display: the Finnish have nothing in common with the rest of us Europeans!

Tue 18 Nov 2008 at 9:07 PM

See also this article at

Tue 18 Nov 2008 at 11:53 PM
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