NBA Road Map

A well-done map is one of the best ways to convey information. The above map shows just three examples of NBL franchises moving to the NBA and the Sunbelt from the 1940s through the 1980s. If I were to add every major pro basketball league that ever existed to such a map, you’d see that the leagues began clustered in the Northeast and slowly, but inexorably, spread west and south across the whole United States.

Frank Jacobs and Benji Lanyado of the Guardian presented many other maps that convey interesting, if not always important, pieces of information back in September of 2012.

One curious map is one of that shows how prevalent McDonald’s restaurants are in the United States. For every 23,000 Americans there is a McDonald’s. That fact mapped out though doubles as a marquee for population centers and important interstate highways. You can even make out the Florida Keys thanks to the highlights of Ronald Donald’s hotspots. Another fun one is a map showing football fanbases in London, England.

The release of that news article in the Guardian did coincide with befuddled bemusement at Apple’s ill-received Apple Maps service. As far as accuracy went, Apple Maps was off the mark:

Within minutes of the launch of the iOS6 operating system, which comes preloaded with Apple Maps, users were reporting that London had been relocated to Ontario, Paddington station had vanished, the Sears Tower in Chicago had shrunk, and Helsinki railway station had been turned into a park.

Dublin, meanwhile, has been gifted a previously undiscovered airport. The Republic’s justice minister, Alan Shatter, in whose constituency the imaginary airport has been located, has already made arrangements for Apple to be informed of the error.

Whereas most maps revealing something interesting of a society, people, or terrain, Apple Maps was just a hot mess of technology gone wrong. Nonetheless, the ability to present more nuanced and engrossing maps is a hallmark of the digital age. Hell, even NBA shot charts are really just maps by another name.

As a geographic connoisseur, I for one welcome the increasing availability and use of maps and charts whatever the guise. Just don’t infiltrate airports into the neighborhood.

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