r/DataisBeautiful and r/ImaginaryMaps

Another shameless plug for Reddit! There are a couple of very interesting subreddits that pertain to our theme of the digital humanities. One is great for an image of data, including with maps, in order to reach a better understanding of history, politics, economics, you name it, or to show how there are certain patterns that can be seen with visuals. r/DataisBeautiful presents a platform for those who wish to not only entertain, but to educate users about the existence of beautiful amounts of data on the variety of topics you can find on there. The latter is a forum dedicated to imaginary maps. These could be maps created on Civ games, Minecraft, Paint, or even some theoretical maps of the real world if “so-and-so” happened. This fits in nicely with our discussion a while ago about map creation and modelling of situations such as pathways through the streets of Pompeii.

Just to give you a taste of the subreddits, here are some of the interesting creations and links that can be found among top posts of this subreddit:


Something that pertains to us students! As you can see at the bottom of this graph, a Reddit user posted this graph from the Bureau of Labour Statistics to display the increase of textbook prices for students versus the usual prices you can find as a normal consumer. The evidence of trends through studies that reveal results like this can open up a new method of understanding for the audience, just as other graphics have been used through our lifetimes to display information in a “digestable” way.

Of course sometimes this information might be wrong. Like in this case of a population comparison between women and men in the U.S.:



The Washington Post provided a possibly faulty map of the demographics, and so a Redditor decided to take it into his own hands to create the actual map you see in the second link, along with a list of the mistakes made in the former.

A few more: Sea trade routes from many, many logs written between in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the top post on r/dataisbeautiful:


(A Digital Humanities blog post on this map: http://sappingattention.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/reading-digital-sources-case-study-in.html )

A comparison between walking in a city with a grid street system versus in a suburb:


And lastly from r/imaginarymaps, an animated .gif map made by a Redditor of their interpretation of the spread of the Earth’s population through time: http://www.gfycat.com/CharmingShimmeringDaddylonglegs

These types of maps with a certain focus will be my Final Presentation. The biggest thing to take from these last few examples is how big an impact maps can make on even larger-scale projects with data from tangible sources, such as written logs, as well as theories. Not only do they make data more digestable, but there is a clear possibility of studying the humanities through these infographics, and creating more compact representations of a lot of work (someone had to compile those sea trade routes in the first graph!). And the fact that Redditors, real people from very different backgrounds, can compile these types of experiences and data themselves, presenting it and gaining such traction in these communities with the posts, shows the power of the Digital Humanities in being able to connect with the laymen when it comes to these subjects. I think the greatest implication of these subreddits would be to spread the word about Digital Humanities, whether the audience knows it or not. r/Dataisbeautiful became one of the default subreddits earlier this year, so its exposure on the site will be rather good for a while, and so the exposure of Digital Humanities is getting bigger and bigger.

For more cool graphics:

http://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful and http://www.reddit.com/r/imaginarymaps


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