Thursday, November 28, 2013

Spaced out! Variance across space

The uniqueness of places - Variance across space

An importance aspect of spatial literacy is an understanding of the variance across space and between places of all aspects of the physical and human world. No two places are the same and whenever geographers create a map they are inquisitive about how the aspect mapped varies from places to place across space. Whether talking about soils, vegetation, religion or attitudes, it is the thing that makes every location of the earth unique. In fact, geographers go further than just map and discuss variance across space, they are curious about the reasons for the variance. Why is this place different to all other places - the "why is it so?" question. 
The following collection of maps provide some great starting points for describing and explaining variance across space - from aspects as diverse as language, gay marriage, gun crime, happiness to hate. Whilst looking at these maps of variance it is worth harking back to the previous Spatialworlds posting on distributions and patterns.  These maps certainly show some fascinating distributions and patterns, very difficult to explain without some research or local knowledge.
Many of the examples below are US based.  it seems that the Americans are way ahead in this area of creating maps and visualisations using data of many forms to create  a representation to inform perceptions and discussion on a wide range of often quirky topics.

To interpret variance we also need to consider projections and scale.  Here are just two interesting links on these two aspects of visualisation and representation.

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