What are they
New York Gas was a data visualization piece which reflected the gas usage in 2010 in NYC based on zip code.
True territory was also a data visualization design that showed each countries "true territory" which questioned the stereotype way that most people read and comprehend country's existence from maps.
New York Gas
Since the topic is about "publics", I would like to do something relate to public daily activities.
One thing that impressed me a lot when I came to the States for the first time is that people waste energy a lot. Keep lights in office building on over the whole night and weekend; street lights on in the daylight; food wasting; over heated or over cooled space... So I wanted to make something to remind people being mindful about their "seems-to-be-minor" practices. Everyone's misbehavior will affect his/her community even the world a lot.
I started searching relevant information on NYC Open Data website, which is a great and fruitful platform provides more than 1200 datasets about NYC. Eventually I found this Natural Gas Consumption by ZIP code 2010 data set (here). In terms of the fact that it is based on ZIP code, stronger sense of community it will provide to audience. I decided working on it.
The JSON file I downloaded from this website has "bad data" (some data showed as "Null"), which cost a lot of errors in Processing in the first place. Another problem was that the coordination data in this dataset seems to be "funny"... as you can see from the pic below, it has too many decimal places, moreover, because I have to map all these coordinations onto the processing window, as a result, I ended up with getting same values for really closed ones which causes the fact that multiple circles have the same center...
Except visualizing locations, I am using different colors (in the spectrum from orange to red) and the length of diameter of each circle to show the amount of the gas consumption.
I was not using a New York map as background in terms of using data itself to represent the space and region and aesthetic concern. Hopefully, you could tell the regions and neighborhoods from the image.
One thing I have to mention is that in the first place, one part of my initial idea is that I wanted to see which community and region is behaving more wasteful. I realized I could not get that from this dataset, because it is not fair to say which area is more profuse without knowing the population density of that area...
Memory and Motivation
I remember when I was a kid. I like staring at the world map hanging around on the wall against my bed. I used to draw the contour of each country by following the map. However, when the territory goes to the "water area", I could easily get lost because too many details, let along those island countries.
Later, I have learned that actually, many countries are not like what they looked like on the map... like Japan, it does not look like as tiny and small as a narrow main island as you can see on a map. Instead, it has a large sea area with numerous scattered islands in it. I was trying to track all the details on the sea to get a grasp about the true existence of a country... but it is too hard.
Initially, I was thinking how to represent a different sense of presence of countries and their territories in a different and aesthetic way? Moreover, I always love Piet Mondrian's work. As a former industrial design student, even though I could not say that he is a good designer (his furniture design provide terrible function and comfort), however, I still love the thinking of representing the geometric beauty and the concise language and semiology behind.
As a result, I came up with this idea that visualizing countries' territory by drawing rectangles based on each country's four geographical extreme points. It's definitely not as accurate as regular map is, however, it could alter the way that audience comprehend the existence of some countries (people usually pay more attention on continent area on the map, and usually have difficulty to relate continent territory with sea area and islands together as an entirety of country's administrative region by looking at regular map.).
I was trying to find online API which could provide detailed information about geographical extreme points of each country in the world. However, I could not find it. I ended up with manually searching each country's extreme points' coordinates in Wikipedia... and save them in CSV file, which cost huge amount of time, and unfortunately, even though I did so, some countries had been missed since I could not find relevant information on the internet. For instance, some small and underdeveloped countries in Africa and America, I could not find much information about them online.
By representing different colors, I was represent each country's population density. However, if you think about it, population density is calculated based on the size of land area, which is not what I am representing here. I would like to see how this cognition gap works in audiences' mind.
When user hovers mouse onto specific rectangle, the country's name that rectangle stands for will pop up.