A personal map of 2010
A number of year-end retrospective blog posts in map-related fields have appeared in the last week or so, and it’s been interesting to take stock of all the excellent work people did during 2010. I of course didn’t do anything worth mentioning; I just went places and mapped it all.
Like I did last year, I have collected all my travels within the immediate local area (Boston) into a series of maps categorized by the mode of transportation for each trip. These are not GPS tracks; I remain low-tech and manually record each trip on a map. Any given segment has a line drawn once per day per mode of transportation. So, for example, if I walked one direction along a street and then later returned on the same street, I recorded only one line there for the day; but if I walked down the street and then returned on the subway running underneath the street, I recorded two lines. So the following neon map that ostensibly uses color intensity to show frequency of travel (blue = less, yellow = more) is really more of a compiled daily log than an accurate record of my presence at every location.
As usual there is no real purpose to this hobby, but it is an interesting exercise in personal geography. For me, relatively little movement around the city is governed by routine because I work at home. I had a once-a-week job during the fall and had my usual grocery stores and such, but otherwise it’s almost all personal choices. I can look at the map and ask myself why I went where I did or why I didn’t go to the empty spaces on the map. I can identify the paths that indicate patterns in my life where I thought there were none. And of course I can look for signs of things like Kevin Lynch-style mental mapping concepts.
The most valuable thing about this habit, though, is not the post-mapping analysis but rather the motivation it generates to get out and explore and get to know new parts of the city. I’m sure you can imagine the thrill of getting to draw a line on a new part of the map. Doing all this without GPS keeps my mind sharp, too, because I must always be aware of exactly where I am so that I can later mark it on the map. My local expertise in transportation and geography is skyrocketing because of this little project. I highly recommend that everyone live cartographically!
Resolution for 2011: ride a boat.