Basically, I feel that completely removing the physical map is okay until you've picked a target. Then, having to click on it to be able to see what the route looks like (which streets to take, etc.) is higher friction than I'd like. Instead, imagine if hovering would give you a route overlay, and as you hover your mouse over multiple places you're considering, you're already aware of the physical directions as well.
Having to click back and forth feels quite constraining.
This is simply feedback on a way I think it could be improved further, not to take away from how good it already is.
For a real city, it would likely just be very weirdly morphed blobs of the map all cut up and smushed back together, with bizarrely curved roads, non-aligning roads & train lines, etc.
What would be cool about this is that it is still a map of the map, but the unit becomes time adjusted mile.
Perhaps there are metric functions where this is not possible (a quick proof eludes me...), but approximations might be possible anyway.
 Edit: actually it's quite simple. Any non-isotropic metric cannot have an Euclidean equidistant projection, simply take a pair of points lying in rays (1,0) and (0,1) in an L^p metric, p not 2, as a counterexample.
 http://lazarus.elte.hu/hun/digkonyv/szakdolg/2013-bsc/baranc... (in Hungarian)
Imagine starting on the far south end of a congested city surrounded by a circular, relatively low-traffic highway. Points on the northern end of the city would be “closer” on such a map than points directly in the center.
You could certainly define a transformation that accounts for this, but I think it would necessarily defy most people’s intuitive interpretation of such a map.
choosing where to go for lunch will be a flash.
Speak for yourself! I feel way more confident getting around when I know the actual geography.
People do think about space and the environment in spatial terms and also in time. This article is basically replaying the same failure that Google is showing - that maps only have an economic value. "Pizza in San Francisco" has been a meme in geospatial hacker land for over a decade and this is another incarnation of it. People think about space in non economic terms more than in terms of how to sell stuff via advertisements. We think about safety, attractiveness, how accessible it is, whats the parking like, who we are with, where next we are going to, what is the ambiance like, how will it be when we try to get home, crime levels, any nearby arts and events on, is the football on at the stadium, is it a weekday or a weeknight, is it near a university, is it during term time, what kind of people are nearby, are the streets well lit, how noisy are the streets. etc. etc.
Now - this doesn't discount the work. I think that a 2D map - the paper analogy onto digital form also isn't good, so any research and attempt to think about what's good and working is worth looking at. Care should be taken when giving psychological or psychogeographical points to such different designs.
I love the London tube map, but when I lived there, it was all the more useful to me because I look at other maps so that I could know that certain stations were in easy walking distance from each other or some other place I was going to.
Canonical answer: Queensway to Bayswater
Tube route: Queensway → Notting Hill Gate change train Notting Hill Gate → Bayswater The journey time between these two London underground stations is approximately 15 minutes
Or just walk. It takes 2 minutes.
I guess that when your abstraction is at the level of start station and end station, that is where the value of the tube map is.
It’s easy to imagine zooming in and using the colors for a 10 minute Subway/walkability combo for e.g. restaurant finding.
In terms of solving real problems, I don't see it as functionally any better than a list ordered by distance with a small compass showing directionality. Basically what you see on the left when you search google maps for "pizza in san francisco".
The benefit of that list is that it uses space much more efficiently and can show things like ratings and thumbnails. Whereas in the article's ui, you have to click on every circle to see what it is.
Put another way, maps are incredibly information dense but when you remove most of the information from them, they're just dense.
What problems are (NOT (young, single, white, male, developer, in San Francisco)) trying to solve?
What is the Venn diagram of those problem sets? The market size? The impact?
If aiming to build a business that works outside the Silicon Valley bubble, you can go wildly wrong by designing for, appealing to, and getting traction in the tiny set.
In general men prefer to navigate using a map, cardinal directions and can adapt their routefinding on the fly (the actual geography); women prefer to navigate using turn-by-turn directions and fixed landmarks ("five minutes that way," "make the second right," etc)
I've noticed this a lot, for example when traveling in a third-world country where education is not widespread I know many people outside of cab drivers can't actually read maps. It's something we take for granted in the US. So when my friend was trying to give a local directions to a certain place by pointing to different places on a map, the local wasn't understanding. When I stepped in and provided turn by turn directions pointing on the actual street, away from the map, she understood.
EDIT: Hold on, did you even read the links that you shared? Neither of them dispute the difference in preference/skill at different forms of navigation between genders. They just dispute the point that it's something that's genetically inherent (a point that nobody in this comment thread made). There's no need to immediately map everything you read to the closest political controversy and then draw the battle lines.
Now, navigation and a kind of natural spatial knowledge is different, and I'd like to learn more about this. I would imagine it would be an innate skill to humans, but be limited to a certain size / level of detail. E.g forest floor, village, a couple of blocks, 100 people.
If the second part is more accurate, why did you even bother mentioning the first? If it's correlation you don't even 100% believe in, leave it out.
It may be more effective to catch the train to a grocery in a completely different part of town than to walk 30 minutes to the one in your own neighborhood.
You could even colour the destinations by level of urgency - blue for destinations where you can casually stroll to the station, or red for ones where you really need to leave right away to catch the train.
My main point is that to me, you're either interested in going to the closest location from where you are, and you'd probably want a brief description of each location to filter out points of interest to you. A list is just as good if not better (since you can quickly glance more information about each place) for that purpose.
Or else you're interested in the geography of the different locations or their exact spatial relationship and then you need a normal map anyway.
Sure, this is a neat geographic data visualization, but I just can't see myself using it in a real world situation.
There are two channels of buses going N-S in the city, and both channels meet downtown. From downtown, two locations can be about equally distant in travel time northwards, and nearby in E-W distance compared to their N-S displacement, but they're separated by a freeway and lie on different N-S channels, and so the E-W distance takes as long to commute (by foot or transit) as going downtown and back northwards would.
It'd be interesting to take travel data and cluster it such that you end up with an isopsychochronic projection. Commute visualizations I've seen end up feeling kind of close.
Just day "go to $MAJORPOINT" then start giving me step by step directions.
Setting audio to alerts works when a traffic situation develops while I am driving and the optimal route changes on the fly (generating an alert). But, if there is a pre-existing situation when I start that's changing the route in a couple of places from the "normal" route I get 80%of the time, alerts will only notify me of it about it five seconds after I miss the unusual exit, when it starts finding a new route.
Of course the simple fix is to get a phone mount and just look at the route whenever you want - but then you're leaving the screen on constantly, or unlocking it at arm's reach while driving.
0) ignore stuff like "infinitely quick" since that isn't realistic for what we are doing :-)
1) For the map I am displaying, pick a handful of points of interest to hse as controls, as well as my current location.
2) Use existing data we already have for stuff like direction routing to get travel times between all the pairs in our points of interest.
3) Draw a weighted graph, where each vertex is one of our points of interest and each edge is weighted by travel time. The initial position of each point should be it's geographic position, but we can then use an existing graph layout algorithm that uses an energy-based method (e.g. pretend the edges are springs) to deform the graph. This way each point will end up with its distance being proportional to travel time.
4) Using initial points as our input control points, and their location in the graph as output cobtrol points, use any number of image warping algorithms put there to calculate our warp / morph / deformation field.
5) Apply to initial map image.
I don't know how well it would work in practice but seems like a reasonable first stab at it! :-)
EDIT: Apologies for typo, fat fingers on mobile!
My gut says it's probably more realistic to do this for large scale maps (say between major cities, 100s of miles, where distance is pretty proportional to travel time). Once you get down to the city / street level, yeah it probably gets real dicey with high variation in travel speeds depending on the particular road and how routes are laid out, and you just aren't going to get pretty triangles fitting together nicely :-P.
In any case its a fun problem to think about!
An infinitely quick circle would reduce to a point. Morphing a 2D map in 3D, I would imagine the inside of the circle like a balloon with the circle as the opening. Reducing that to 2D seems impossible without breaking it somehow.
I guess the problem is worth at least a paper, if not a dissertation. Maybe there is some esoteric math paper in topology which already solved that? Or has proven it impossible?
I would love an HN/GoFundMe or Patreon mashup, where people could take on cool hacks in a thread that readers are willing to support.
I have zero free time at this point in my life, but would be willing to throw some money at folks who do have free time and skills.
On a modern GPU, it's basically just as efficient as in pixel shaders, with two caveats:
1. If you want mip-mapping, you have to do LOD calculations yourself, which is likely a bit slower. (Not an issue in what you have in mind.)
2. There are questions around the locality of your memory accesses. As long as you lay out your vertices more or less along a space-filling curve (which is a good idea for grids anyway, due to vertex reuse) you should be mostly fine. Obviously the details will vary depending on the exact architecture.
It's nice to see real thought, study and execution into new ways of portraying things that have the possibility of becoming stale. While maps and their functionalities are very much "still in development" with many developers adding new features to them... most of these "new features" don't try to rethink how we see and use them. They just extend the feature set instead of stopping and trying to re-think what a map is and what it is supposed to do.
- Going a few miles east (on the light rail line) is much, much faster than the same distance plus a mile north or south.
- Some places on the inner east side of the river take me longer to get to than places further out that are on a bus line.
- Going to the northwest part downtown takes me longer than going to the north part, even though they're both the same distance from home, because the transit lines run in an ⅂ shape.
Is it possible to present a resized version of the route to each path underneath each target? (or perhaps show that on hover)
I understand that this would mean having overlapping map snippets of different sizes (with different centres), but some visual representation of the route to take could be nice.
Currently, the UX of having to click each target to see the path reduces the usability (having to go back and forth between the suggestions is tedious).
The author thinks that the time-only maps address the root concern, which is "how fast can I get somewhere." But that's not entirely true: there are areas where I live that I would rather go to than others. If I search for sushi and I see one place in a crime-ridden neighborhood, a second place in the middle of nowhere, and a third place in the "trendy" section of my city where most of the rest of the food is good, I'm going to the third place if they're all the same distance (and probably even if the third place is farther than the first two, to an extent).
> I'm going to the third place if they're all the same distance (and probably even if the third place is farther than the first two, to an extent).
By distance, you probably meant time to get there.
In city centers with a lot of walking traffic, you may see maps overlaid with progressively larger circles, to estimate travel time based on simple physical distance. But this assumes that people move like crows fly: that there’s a straight-line road for anywhere we want to go, through concrete walls and over lakes, without traffic ever to slow us down. In an urban setting, none of these are practical assumptions to make.
That isn't limited to urban settings. They are not practical assumptions to make in any setting.
My only issue is that they define it as a "map". Its, well, its not. Its a useful tool, but a map tells you how to go there, and this is not that (until you click on something, so that second piece is a map fine). I can concede its a map in the sense that multiple places plotted are still direction-ally related to each other, but that's counter to going ahead and throwing out the map-streets in the first place.
I.e. I appreciate radius from center as a very useful representation of travel time.
But I would liberate X and Y to be things such as rating and cost (to give two likely examples).
Once you distort space so you might as well go all-in (in this view) and let it pack in two more dimensions.
The resulting clusterings would be very interesting and useful I imagine.
But distance isn't the only important geospatial factor. Frequently I want to find a place to eat/drink that's on the way to another destination (such as a movie theater). This kind of chrono map would be more useful in a new city in which I don't know that a place 0.2 mi away to the west involves crossing an interstate. In a setting I'm familiar with, it's probably not particularly useful on mobile (given the limited dimensions for showing points and text labels), but could be great on print displays. It'd allow designers to show geospatial/time info without also having to render a full map.
On the topic of Yelp and other listing services, maybe some refinements could be made to make lists more geospatially useful. No reason why the list view has to show just distance, rather than time traveled. Or to include a filter option for direction, so that I can just see things west or south of me. It's pretty frustrating sometimes having to switch back and forth between list and map.
It pretty much makes a isochrone maps all over the city, and gets google public transport and driving times and creates a ratio.
I've started to work on a better version 2, but so far not much work.
I've always wondered even further about this - how you take this and extend it to 3 dimensions + time. In terms of maps, that would also help you with elevation or other obstacles that might slow you down from a straight line path.
Certainly, with the processing power and capacity today, we have the capability of knowing not only the two dimensional direction and the time it takes, but even the three dimensional position plus time.
I like to think of this crazy idea like a 3-D video recorder (maybe)... something that records positions of all objects in the specified space in slices of time, and can reconstruct any such slice and analyze the relative position of objects in space over time to each other.
I am not sure how such a technology would be made... capturing all the positions of everything in slices of time. I think we can do it with 3-D simulations, but not sure how we could record such data for the real world without modeling it in the virtual.
Still, this is such a cool direction and I for one like seeing people experimenting with something that we take for granted so easily, the map. I feel like everything that is amazing about time and space is somehow embodied by maps - astronomy, time, geography, relativity, etc.
But I was never smart enough to implement it. This goes a bit along the way but hopefully someone comes along and implements that, I think I would find it very useful.
This is a nice tool to answer the descision-making question "where can I find a good restaurant to get to in reasonable proximity?" that the article talked about - but I'm worried about the undertones in it that were equating it to an actual map.
I'm not sure if that's their idea but if they are thinking about using this to replace geographical maps, they should stop that thought quickly - there is an awful lot of information that a geographical map gives you that this doesn't.
The bottom line is that you can't just throwaway physical maps. One way to marry your idea in physical may might be to color code places according to how far they are.
If you center on the Central West End in St. Louis, you can clearly see that development has mostly happened in the western suburbs:
Oh my.... They just invented the 'list'. Or better yet a list that drives map interactions....oh my and an ordered list too! I could swear I did that like 10 years ago on google maps, but I guess it must have just been a dream.
Seriously, adding a fancy radius dial overlay doesn't really improve much over a plain old ordered list.
When I search for "sandwich", my neighborhood Subway should show up, even though the word doesn't appear in the name.
When I search for "convenience" or "store", my neighborhood convenience store should show up, even though those words do not appear in the name.
But I did discover a Whole Foods location that is even closer to my house than the three others in town that I knew of. Cool!
this is something a lot of people don't realize about search engines i.e. yelp, angie's, etc. - they are tuned to fit the humans to the data, not vice versa.
However this map idea also reflects my core impression. Really smart people that provide constant high quality content (just look at the blog itself, how it's designed, and the other posts), but not really a disruptive spirit.
Sie sind nicht der Elefant im Porzelanladen, you could say. That is their strength and their weakness.
For an example, go to https://groups.do , create an account (can be fake) and then click New Group, select some Dining activity and see the restaurants pop up sorted by distance. Done.
By that, I mean.. think of isobars.
But giving a blank slate to a user and having them input a text query when they open the App might not be the best idea. In my head I remember the places around me using landmarks; the blank screen at the start makes me impatient.
Any suggestions for the best (open) software to achieve this?
disclosure: I work for Mapbox (on geocoding, not visual maps)
Very useful in constraining a search area based on how far you're willing to commute when looking for a home.
What would be cool is instead of time you have a score that takes into account time, cost (do I need an uber or will a bus do?) and variance (traffic delay probability)
ie, an 8 hour drive, or 20 minute walk
It was always fun to sit around and speculate as to why
That 200 km could take anywhere from 2 hours to 3.5 hours to drive to, depending on the road and terrain. The distance isn't actually very relevant.
The tourist guides here specifically mention this, that don't plan your travel by distance, because 100 km in one place is not 100 km in another. In the old road maps, they'd have a travel time matrix, rather than distance (like this  except with times)
I can't seem to run a search in my location in NY. "Find Me" changes the address but the results are stuck in Seattle. I can't seem to change the query term either.
Nonetheless, an interesting concept!
Cool idea though.
MySociety Travel Time Maps
Interactive maps of travel time and housing prices in London
MySociety, an NGO which builds websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives, came to Stamen with a remit to explore two fascinating datasets: median prices of homes throughout London, and the time it takes to travel from one place to another throughout the city.
Chris Lightfoot (4 August 1978 — 11 February 2007) was an English scientist and political activist. He was the first developer, with Tom Steinberg, at e-democracy charity mySociety.
Sometimes, it’s more useful to know a journey time than it is to know the distance.
That’s why people often refer to ‘an hour’s commute’ rather than ‘40 miles’.
Mapumental is a beautiful tool to show public transport travel times, from or to a chosen postcode, on a timebanded map. These can be embedded in websites, apps or online tools, or used for internal research purposes.
Transit-time maps, also known as isochrone maps, are not a new idea: there are examples dating back hundreds of years. But the online technologies behind Mapumental are new – and have unleashed a great many possibilities for all kinds of users.
Mapumental developed the project (site currently down for maintainance):
Stamen Design has done lots of really cool stuff with maps: