Great maps were everywhere in 2013. Some seemed destined to go viral. Some were stunning to see. Others had noble intentions and interesting stories to tell. Lots were made by people who aren’t professional mappers.
Click here to see some our favorites - and let us know what we missed!
Above: The million-plus amateur cartographers who volunteer their time to plot roads, streets, and even shrubbery for Open Street Map were busier than ever this year. The beautiful map above, created by MapBox, shows how the database has grown since its inception in 2004. Hot pink areas are newly mapped, blue and green areas are older. (There’s a zoomable version on Mapbox’s website). OSM’s database of more than 21 million miles of roads and 78 million buildings, keeps finding new uses, such as helping first responders to disasters like this year’s typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Image: MapBox/OpenStreetMap contributors
“We are replacing the hard drive. I don’t mean that you’re going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we’re launching.”
— Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.
In the nine years since Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook out of his Harvard dorm room — Monday marks the anniversary of the service — it has evolved into more than just the world’s most popular social network. Zuckerberg and company have also built one of the most sophisticated engineering operations on the planet — largely because they had to. Facebook is faced with a uniquely difficult task — how to serve a personalized homepage to one billion different people, juggling one billion different sets of messages, photos, videos, and so many other data feeds — and this requires more tech talent than you might expect.
Yes, Facebook’s engineering army includes people like Lars Rasmussen who create web applications like the company’s Graph Search tool — the stuff you can see on your Facebook page. It includes other software engineers who fashion the tools and widgets needed to build, test, and deploy those web applications. And nowadays, it includes hardware engineers like Amir Michael who design custom servers, storage devices, and, yes, entire data centers.
But it also spans a team of top engineers who deal in data — an increasingly important part of modern online operations. Scuba is just one of many “Big Data” software platforms Facebook has fashioned to harness the information generated by its online operation — platforms that push the boundaries of distributed computing, the art of training hundreds or even thousands of computers on a single task.
Meet the data brains behind the rise of Facebook over @ Wired Enterprise.
Beautiful, ominous, and surprising, these are the winners of the 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. For 10 years, the competition — sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science — has celebrated the creators of visually striking, informative, and original art. The 2012 winners were just announced. From glowing corals to spiky seeds to neural networks on a chip, these images speak more clearly — and louder — than any report ever could.
See the rest of the winners over @ Wired Science.
Congratulations, Barack Obama: You have prevailed in the nerdiest election in the history of the American Republic.
If 2008 was about hope and change, 2012 was about data and memes. The unemployment rate. The effective tax rates. The 47 percent. The budget deficit projections. Of all things, the Reddit AMAs.
Same goes for understanding the elections. Never mind the baby-kissing, the fish fries, the bus tours and the conventions. What mattered in 2012 was data, and the tools to process it — which were so abundant, you could thankfully tune out the pundits. If it could be quantified, it was collected. If it could be collected, it was memed. If it could be memed, it was disputed. The disputes were answered with more data.
More @ Danger Room.