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Transportation

Interpreting Global Flight Maps 93

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pictures-depict-message-of-satan dept.
kodiaktau writes "Five experts including: artist, environmentalist, aviation consultant, data visualization expert and philosopher interpret a flight map showing global flights. While the imagery of the visualization is intriguing, the interpretations are particularly interesting and show how individual background and experience impact they way they view the data."
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Interpreting Global Flight Maps

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  • I can't help but notice that the map not only uses the "north = up, therefore north = good" ideology but also places Europe square in the middle of the map. I expected better from an elite artist.
    • Re:Eurocentric (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Striikerr (798526) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @09:12AM (#43849763)

      I don't see why you are complaining about this. Every civilization will place themselves central to the map. I grew up in North America and so the North American continent was always central with Europe etc. on the right side and Asia etc. on the left. Australia will place itself central and so will Europe (as seen here) and Asia on their respective maps. Having North at the top of the map is an international standard (to my knowledge). This has nothing to do with North being good (and therefore S being bad?)

      Interestingly, as a child, I always thought that maps were the same everywhere (North America central) and so was surprised when I first saw maps from other countries. I paused a moment and realized why and that I was naive for assuming otherwise. I had wondered at that time if, to simplify things, Australia or other countries towards the Southern end of the planet, taught geography with South at the top.

      Back on track, the interpretations were interesting to view. It shows us all that we perceive things in the world differently from others (as I learned so long ago with the maps)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by brisk0 (2644101)
        We (Australia) probably would have South at the top if Australia didn't look so dang weird upside-down.
        (Also if we weren't a commonwealth country, and not everyone else did it that way, probably)
      • by nozzo (851371) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @10:06AM (#43850207) Homepage
        years back I installed a program on a secretary's Windows 3.1 system. The new icon shifted the Microsoft Word icon to the left one place. Half hour later I get the director calling me saying the secretary was in tears because she had deadlines and I had 'deleted' Word from her system.

        When I ran around and pointed at the icon she was ok again - all good to go. I even dragged it back to it's original place so I wouldn't be bothered again.

        The ease in which some people get in to a confused state cannot be overstated.

        So let's not mess with maps too much - North is at the top by convention.
        • I recall that at least one early version of Micosoft Internet Explorer back in the late 90s had the earth globe 'throbber' animation show, in sequence: the Americas, Europe, then the blue 'e' then back to the Americas. No Asia or Oceania. At the time I could hardly believe it that a giant company that had always promoted internationalisation of its software could have such a 'fail' moment.
        • by Xest (935314)

          I've seen this exact same thing years ago when I worked in tech support too.

          I used to think these sorts of people were rare and unique, but they're not, as your example demonstrates there is an awful lot of them.

          On a similar note I had a call once saying "Hi there's no paper in the printer, there's an orange light on it and it's not printing", I actually had to do a double take for a second before asking if she'd tried putting paper in at which point rather flustered she just says "Can you just come down he

      • by baKanale (830108)

        It's funny, I've lived in the United States my whole life and only recently can I remember seeing world maps centered on North America. All the world maps I usually see are centered on the Prime Meridian, which is nice since the map cuts off somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, near the Bering Straits.

      • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @10:44AM (#43850737)

        Having North at the top of the map is an international standard (to my knowledge). This has nothing to do with North being good (and therefore S being bad?)

        Just so long as you remember that the enemy gate is down.

      • I don't see why you are complaining about this. Every civilization will place themselves central to the map. I grew up in North America and so the North American continent was always central with Europe etc. on the right side and Asia etc. on the left.

        I grew up in North America as well, specifically the East coast of Canada. All of our world maps looked just like this, with North America on the left.

        Perhaps it had something to do with the British influence in Canada or maybe it's more of an East Coast, West Coast thing. I could easily see having a map with North America in the center if I was on the West Coast as parts of Asia would be closer to me than Europe.

        • Nope, I grew up in western Canada and Europe was always in the middle. Its the orientation that involves cutting the least amount of land.

          These "centre good" and "up good" prejudices never occurred to us.

      • by isorox (205688)

        Interestingly, as a child, I always thought that maps were the same everywhere (North America central) and so was surprised when I first saw maps from other countries. I paused a moment and realized why and that I was naive for assuming otherwise.

        It makes sense to put Europe in the middle, as the split then happens across the pacific, where there's great distances between landmasses, and the split occurs on or around the dateline.

        I expect America to put themselves in the middle

        I'm surprised we don't see more maps like these though, which show what's near and what's far for a given country

        http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=RSL&MS=wls&MP=a&MC=RSL&DU=mi [gcmap.com]
        http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=FRA&MS=wls&MP=a&MC=FRA&DU=mi [gcmap.com]
        http://www.gcmap.c [gcmap.com]

      • by lachlan76 (770870)
        Coming from Australia, almost every world map that I have ever seen is centred upon the prime meridian like this one.
    • by geogob (569250)

      This is a typical (if not standard) map projection. What would you suggest? East Up? Centered on?

      • Re:Eurocentric (Score:5, Informative)

        by dargaud (518470) <[ten.duagradg] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @10:39AM (#43850667) Homepage

        This is a typical (if not standard) map projection. What would you suggest? East Up? Centered on?

        'East up' use to be the standard on medieval maps. Hence the word 'orientation': to figure out where the orient was (even if that meant waiting for the sun to rise I guess). After the invention of the compass which points north/south, maps began to be drawn with north on top.

      • This is a typical (if not standard) map projection. What would you suggest? East Up?

        Why not? [thinkgeek.com]

        And I thought astronomers drew maps upside down?

    • by Teun (17872)

      I can't help but notice that the map not only uses the "north = up, therefore north = good" ideology but also places Europe square in the middle of the map. I expected better from an elite artist.

      Oh no, north is better?

      This is so way out of touch I can only suggest to go get some therapy.
      You better learn to live with it that the majority of flight movements are concentrated in... Europe!

    • Only Indians (Asian Indians) and probably Norvegians and europeans for a short while have ever used a South being up map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversed_map).
      Europe belongs in the center, because that is where GMT is centered. This way all the points on the map are at the same day.If you center the map on USA, atleast two points on the map will be on different days.
    • by chrismcb (983081)

      I can't help but notice that the map not only uses the "north = up, therefore north = good" ideology but also places Europe square in the middle of the map. I expected better from an elite artist.

      That is why HE is an elite artist, and you aren't. This view shows the MOST flight patterns. Notice how there are almost NO flights to the west of the US? There are like 10 heading from US to Hawaii and like 2 heading from Hawaii. Putting Europe in the center allowed him to center on the flights as well. Do something stupid at put US in the center and half the flights would be on the right, meanwhile the left would be a big blank square. Do something dumb like "south = up" or moronic like "west = up" and pe

  • Pretty, but I'm dubious. Looking at the US, it looks like nearly half the brightness is in a triangle with the southern terminus in Orlando or Miami, and going to the northeast. If brightness is mapped to density of flights, then this says that half of the flights in the US go from the northeast to Florida? I just don't think that's true. Florida is a great attractor... but not that great.

    • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @09:11AM (#43849743)

      Pretty, but I'm dubious. Looking at the US, it looks like nearly half the brightness is in a triangle with the southern terminus in Orlando or Miami, and going to the northeast. If brightness is mapped to density of flights, then this says that half of the flights in the US go from the northeast to Florida? I just don't think that's true. Florida is a great attractor... but not that great.

      Well, you can never ignore the Disney factor. Or the cruise-ship factor (many fly to Florida to hop the cruises there). Florida is really big for vacations.

      BUT... then you also have the fact that lots of people fly Internationally. LOTS.

      And then you have to factor in business trips. LOTS of those too. Many are International, which means Boston + New York + Newark. And many are just to the big business cities: New York / Boston Chicago. Which means TONS of people from the south east are going to one of those 4 cities every day. Either from Florida, or from Atlanta.

      Then you have Atlanta, a huge / busy airport hub, It's relatively close to Florida. So all of that density is adding to that blob in the south-eastern section.

    • by aicrules (819392)
      Well the point of this article is the reactions of five people in different industries giving a stereotypical reaction to the image based on what someone feels a person in that industry would say as a representative of that industry.
    • He made short flights a lighter shade of blue than long flights, which over-emphasizes dense areas with lots of nearby airports.

    • Is it density of flights or density of destinations? I though the colouring was only based on short or longhaul flights, not the number of flights along a particular route. So an airport connected to a large number of destinations would presumably appear brighter that one with higher traffic but fewer available destinations.
    • There also seem to be no flights from the LA or San Diego areas to Hawaii. But I've been on those flights.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Pretty, but I'm dubious. Looking at the US, it looks like nearly half the brightness is in a triangle with the southern terminus in Orlando or Miami, and going to the northeast. If brightness is mapped to density of flights, then this says that half of the flights in the US go from the northeast to Florida? I just don't think that's true. Florida is a great attractor... but not that great.

      I think the person that gathered the data drew one line for an airport-airport connection, rather than look at the number of flights.

      That means that LHR-JFK with it's 16+ flights a day gets the same thickness as JNB-SYD with 1 flight a day.

      • by amaurea (2900163)

        Also, all the lines appear to be simple geodesics rather than the actual path taken by the flights, which would have been much more interesting to see (though perhaps a bit harder to come by). It would be neat to have a world map of passenger-time per area by means of transportation.

        • by isorox (205688)

          Also, all the lines appear to be simple geodesics rather than the actual path taken by the flights, which would have been much more interesting to see (though perhaps a bit harder to come by). It would be neat to have a world map of passenger-time per area by means of transportation.

          Neigh-on impossible. Obviously long haul flights tend to approximate great circles, however ETOPS considerations come into it, and jet streams move on a daily basis. I believe the SIN-EWR service doesn't follow the great circle (which puts it withing 143 miles of the north pole), but follows jet streams, flying over northern europe on the to-SIN leg, over alaska on the to-NY leg. The Atlantic tracks between Europe and the North East vary on a day-by-day basis for a similar reason.

          QF63/64 JNB-SYD tracks nort

    • by wywh (2849275)
      It can be a work of art: "Norwegian pilot flying a passenger plane NAX3194 from Copenhagen to Stockholm flew a penis figure to the sky while waiting landing permission to Arlanda". http://iwriteinmargins.blogspot.fi/2012/12/norwegian-airplane-pilot-drew-penis-to.html [blogspot.fi]
    • by chrismcb (983081)
      You do know that Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world? Looks like Mr Wiki even says it is the busiest. That southern terminus is actually Atlanta, not Orlando or Miami.
      • Atlanta is clearly visible-- it's the bright nexus on the left side of the triangle. It's easy to pick out which one it is, since it's on the line which continues the bright segment of the Boston/Washington corridor (the line is very clearly visible), and it's also about 2/3 of the way down from the line between Chicago and Orlando, which defines the left side of the triangle.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @08:56AM (#43849619) Homepage
    Hello, this is the FBI. we arent to happy with your flight visualization tool. you know, terrorists and stuff. why dont you go ahead and take that down....
  • Interpretations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VorpalRodent (964940) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @08:57AM (#43849629)
    So, let me get this straight...
    The artist looks at it and sees art, without any insight into interpreting the data.
    The environmentalist looks at it, and doesn't understand what it's actually showing.
    The aviation consultant looks at it and accurately relays exactly what it was intended to represent, with some limited interpretation.
    The data visualization expert understands the data, and provides some suggestions for allowing this format to provide more information.
    The philosopher is insane

    So the intended interpretation of the story is that we each see what we want to see in information. The meta-interpretation is that I should only hire an expert in an appropriate field to analyze my data.
    • Re:Interpretations (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @09:16AM (#43849795) Homepage

      The meta-interpretation is that I should only hire an expert in an appropriate field to analyze my data.

      And possibility a data visualization expert along with the industry expert.

    • by sycodon (149926)

      Actually, the Environmentalist just bitched about emissions.

      • Actually, the Environmentalist just bitched about emissions.

        Yep. I've been wondering how air traffic affects the weather for a long time. Do the climate folks model this? I swear the weather changed in michigan after Delta bought Northwest and Detroit was demoted from primary hub to whatever it is now. Depending on conditions, con-trails may dissipate or they may start to grow into larger clouds. I'm not saying it's a problem, I just wonder if anyone has studied these effects.

        • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @10:01AM (#43850173) Homepage

          Actually, the Environmentalist just bitched about emissions.

          Yep. I've been wondering how air traffic affects the weather for a long time. Do the climate folks model this?

          Yes. It's a subject of tremendous interest. I saw a very good presentation on this at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference two years ago, looking at global data on contrail-induced clouds viewed from satellites. The data from the weeks following 9-11-2001 was particularly informative, the time when global air traffic was temporarily grounded.

          There's far too much research to summarize in a paragraph or two, but my quick overview is that contrail-induced high-altitude clouds (slightly) decrease daytime temperatures (reflecting incident sunlight) and also slightly increase nighttime temperatures (reflecting outgoing IR). Overall net effect on temperature is not large, but it tends to be slightly larger in heating the polar regions (on the average, less sunlight in, so the infrared is a little more important, and a significant number of flights go over the poles). But that's my summary from a non-random selection of papers and talks I've heard, not a rigorous review of the science, though, so YMMV.

          • by gr8_phk (621180)

            Yes. It's a subject of tremendous interest. I saw a very good presentation on this at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference two years ago, looking at global data on contrail-induced clouds viewed from satellites. The data from the weeks following 9-11-2001 was particularly informative, the time when global air traffic was temporarily grounded.

            Thanks for that. The 9-11-2001 articles are what really brought it to my attention. The daily temperature variation increased by (I think 2 degrees but don't recall

        • by Teun (17872)
          Hey hey, around your ways they are not con-trails but instead chem-trails.

          Conspiracy idiocy aside, yes climate and weather folks do consider these clouds.

    • Reminds me of a quote by Edgar Fiedler: "Ask five economists and you'll get five different answers - six if one went to Harvard."
    • Re:Interpretations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Picass0 (147474) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @09:32AM (#43849941) Homepage Journal

      >> "The meta-interpretation is that I should only hire an expert in an appropriate field to analyze my data."

      An aviation consultant is going to be a better expert on the subject than a dog breeder, chef, or locksmith.

      "Expert" is an overused and abused title in western civilization. I recently watched a show on BBC about Roy Lichtenstein. He was a 60's pop artist who copied nearly verbatim comic panels from Kirby, Kubert, Novack, and many of the best artist in comics in that day. He projected the panels and traced them onto canvas and painted them with ever so slight modification, placing special emphasis on the dot paterns used in printing.

      So the snobby BBC "expert" (Alastair Sooke) debated Dave Gibbons (artist from The Watchmen) and tries to sell Dave on Lichtenstein's art being better than the originals he ripped off. Gibbons puts forth the argument that in no other field, not music or writing, would such wholesale plagerism be tolerated. You can't pass off a Beatles song as your own because you changed on or two small things. Sooke looks Gibbons in the eye and says the original artists were less talented so this is OK.

      Sooke, BBC's expert, having no background or interest in comics, has written books trashing the talents of the original artists who Lichtenstein left uncredited. He describes the creations of people like Jack Kirby as "trashy" and "low" and "pulp". As an "expert" Sooke makes the argument that Lichtenstein improved the images he copied (a subjective opinion) and therefore he is the greater artist, even though Lichtenstein in his life never sold an original composition or creation of his own.

      Lichtenstein's painting "WHAAM!" has sold for $10 million dollars. It is a ripoff of an Irv Novick panel from "All-American Men of War". Novick, nor any other artist, ever saw a dime from Lichtenstein.

      Bottom line - the world is full of "experts". Many of them are well paid and full of rubbish.

      http://davidbarsalou.homestead.com/LICHTENSTEINPROJECT.html [homestead.com]

      .

      • The art world is full of pricks...

        In music there are a lot of cover version widely regarded as being better than the original, the key difference being that the original artist is credited and does receive some royalties. Johnny Cash's "Hurt" comes immediately to mind, but everybody can credit Trent Reznor with writing it, and he received a cut.

        • by Picass0 (147474)

          Agreed. Music is full of covers. For example most people would agree Jimmi Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" is a vast improvement on the original. Dylan himself performs the Hendrix version of the song to this day he was so impressed. The two men had been friends and Hendrix was a Dylan fan and gave credit to the original. I'm unaware of what if any royalties are paid from the Hendrix estate to Dylan, but the point is the appropriate credit was given to the original composer.

    • The intense white areas in the image are areas of dense flight activity -- and Europe's intense white area is much larger than that of the U.S.

      Here's my interpretation: few people are using Europe's vaunted and heavily-subsidized public rail transportation system. Most people are flying instead. It would be a mistake for the U.S. to throw billions into rail transportation as well (i.e., we should have let Amtrak die a long time ago).

  • How this map reflects economic activity?

    it's important to note that they mapped "flights" and not passengers carried. I didn't realize how much air travel was used in Europe, but it does seem to reflect the really close associations and interlinked economic activity of the region. I'm also guessing that there are a lot more short haul flights in smaller aircraft "over there".

    But when you view this with where the money flows in mind, it seams clear that there are a number of economic centers in the world.

  • "Five experts including: artist, environmentalist, aviation consultant, data visualization expert and philosopher interpret a flight map showing global flights."

    Isn't that the basic plot summary for Journey to the West?

    • by mjwx (966435)

      "Five experts including: artist, environmentalist, aviation consultant, data visualization expert and philosopher interpret a flight map showing global flights."

      In this list I cant see any experts.

      I see 2 unemployed, 2 expensive but useless people and one protester.

    • That or a pron movie.

  • Since when is a philosopher an "expert"? Aside from his observations being so much pointless blather, couldn't any of the other four or even a random person off the street be just as much a philosopher as this guy?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I believe they prefer the term "Bullshit Artist." There's a skill to that.

  • Using Flightradar or Flightaware and enabling airplane trails would show the same thing and it would then update in real time too.
    And of course you could get a $20 Realtek USB DVB plug in and use Gnuradio and a 1090 band receiver program (dump1090 or others) to plot one centered around yourselves.

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