Sorting Out Cities
Dietmar Offenhuber & Ars Electronica Futurelab (Roland Haring, Peter
Holzkorn, Andreas Jalsovec , Michael Mayr, Nicolas Naveau, Emiko Ogawa)
Miraikan Museum, Tokyo
Image: Miraikan – the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo.
Metro Manila Urban Extent 1975, 1990, 2010
German Remote Sensing Data Center, German Aerospace Center
1. Cities are small, the globe is large
2. Global AND highly granular datasets are rare
3. Global indicators are abstract constructs
Data - abundant or scarce?
Eric Schmidt: Every 2 Days We Create As
Much Information As We Did Up To 2003
Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin-
Madison, Center for International Earth Science Information Network – CIESIN –
Columbia University, International Food Policy Research Institute – IFPRI, the World
Bank, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, Deutscher Wetterdienst, the
Water Footprint Network, Global Environment Monitoring Unit – Joint Research
Center (JRC), Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital,
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
Grey Water Footprint
Population Density, urban extent
Wage Density (Sweden).
(Charlotta Mellander, Kevin
Stolarick, Zara Matheson,
NASA black marble
“even after factoring out country and year fixed
effects the simple correlation between the standard
deviation and mean of lights is 0.88.”
Henderson, J. Vernon, Adam Storeygard, and David N. Weil. 2009. Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space.
Working Paper 15199. National Bureau of Economic Research. http://www.nber.org/papers/w15199.
Explaining by sorting
Ursus Wehrli – Tidying up Art - http://www.kunstaufraeumen.ch/en
Cities occupy 3% of the earth’s land surface. If all urban areas
would be combined in one large city, it would be slightly larger
than the size of Europe, or about half the size of Brazil.
MODIS 500-m map of global urban extent — Center for Sustainability and the
Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin-Madison
53% of the global population lives in cities; more than half of
the global population lives in Southeast Asia.
Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN - Columbia
University. 2014. Gridded Population of the World, Version 4 (GPWv4)
In the western hemisphere, more water is used in production
relative to the population density than in the eastern
GPCC Precipitation Normals Version 2010, Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC),
Hoekstra, A.Y. and Mekonnen, M.M. (2012) The water footprint of humanity, Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences, 109(9): 3232–3237
Over 90% of the land mass is accessible in less than two days from a major city. In the densely
populated areas, cities can be reached from most places in minutes rather than hours.
Travel time to major cities: A global map of Accessibility, A. Nelson, Global Environment
Monitoring Unit – Joint Research Center (JRC), European Commission
Video by YouTube users: Shunichi Kitamura, barmaglot0
Sticky vs. Non-sticky data
Where is meaning located - in the data or the context?
In the context?
Drucker, Johanna. 2011. “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5 (1).
MFA Information Design and Visualization