All Streets | Ben Fry


Ben Fry is director of Seed Visualization and its Phyllotaxis Lab, a design laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts focused on understanding complex data. Fry received his doctoral degree from the Aesthetics + Computation Group at the MIT Media Laboratory in 2004, where his research focused on combining fields such as computer science, statistics, graphic design, and data visualization as a means for understanding information.

At his web-site we found this interesting project: All Streets, a compilation of 26 million segments of road, that he explains in these words:

All of the streets in the lower 48 United States: an image of 26 million individual road segments. No other features (such as outlines or geographic features) have been added to this image, however they emerge as roads avoid mountains, and sparse areas convey low population. This began as an example I created for a student in the fall of 2006, and I just recently got a chance to document it properly.

United States. Original image of the lower 48 states.

San Francisco.

Alaska and Hawaii were initially left out for simplicity’s sake, because the two states don’t “work” because there aren’t enough roads to outline their shape. We have read that both Western and Southeastern Alaska can not be reached very well by road. Even the state capital, Juneau, located in Southeastern Alaska, is not accessible by highway.

The Great Lakes

Appalachian Mountains

Fry has also worked in projects about genetic cartography and is the author of Visualizing Data, a book that demonstrates methods for representing data accurately on the Web and elsewhere. Is interesting to note that every day is more frequent to find works that are in the line between cartography-data visualization-architecture and art, as our friends from La Periferia Doméstica ask: Now architecture is Cartography?

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