Stamen is a design and technology studio in San Francisco.

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    Mar 9, 2015

    A New Map for Instagram’s Instameets

    All around the world, people are getting together for Instameets, where Instagrammers gather to take lovely, fabulously filtered square photos of the world around them. It had been a challenge to effectively and elegantly map this community activity, so Instagram reached out to us to help to them out with a new map of community activity around the world.

    The new, now mobile-friendly Instameet map foregrounds photos instead of standard icons, and it distinguishes between gatherings old and new. Red dots and photo borders reflect Instameets in the future, while blue dots and photo borders reflect meetings in the past. Photos along the bottom of the map are organized chronologically, too, so that it’s easy to see what’s happening, when.

    Photo selection is also much clearer and cleaner:

    And you can search for locations of Instameets as well:

    As a cherry on top, for people who are looking to just see what’s out there, we implemented a simple animation cycling between featured Instameet photos.

    Learn more about Instameets and go play with the map at community.instagram.com!

    Mar 4, 2015

    Parks are social

    There’s a story in the American nature-loving tradition that people go to the outdoors in part to get away from other people. Some people might even say that’s the main reason to go outside.

    We’re ever more certain, however, that in truth parks are social, people live their lives in them, and bringing together support for parks means embracing that with open arms.

    That’s what we’ve been trying to do with the concept, design, and launch of CaliParks.org, our web application that brings together curated park location and activity data with completely uncurated image feeds from Instagram and Flickr, capturing images posted by anyone within the boundaries of California’s nearly 12,000 public parks.

    We’re thrilled with stories like this one from New America Media—soon to be translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese! There you’ll meet young, diverse urban dwellers ready to visit and support parks, and also leaders like José Gonzalez of Latino Outdoors and Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, who are leading the way in showing the parks world that diverse communities already use and support parks and are ready to do more, given the right context.

    And that context is all about the conversations we collectively have about, in, and for parks. What stories do we tell? Who do we ask to share their experiences?

    As many people as possible!

    Right after we launched CaliParks.org last month, we worked with our friends at Upwell to hold a “Parkinar” about social media in parks — a conversation about conversations in parks.

    The response was amazing: More than 80 people participated directly in the Parkinar, including a range of influencers from large agencies like the National Park Service, community groups like Riverside’s Save Our Chinatown Committee, and blogs like Outdoorsy Mama and Modernhiker.com.

    Upwell’s research on the conversational impact showed that a single virtual event actually increased parks conversation more than LA Times:

    That’s nice for CaliParks.org, but it’s even better for parks as a whole: When we open up the conversation, the stories start flowing.

    Let’s keep that going!

    We’re working on improving CaliParks.org, so send us your feedback. There’s a feedback link on the bottom of every page on the site — and we do read those submissions!

    And let us know how we can help you expand the conversation. Here are some ideas:

    • CaliParks.org has what we call featured “story blocks” prominently on the home page. Right now we’re featuring “Explore State Parks.” Yeah! Do you have a favorite set of parks that speak to you and the community you’re part of? Send us a list of ten or twenty parks and a link to a Creative Commons photo on Flickr, and we’ll feature your favorite parks (and your group in the story block!), and then you can share the list with your community. (And if you need help finding an image, we can do that too.)
    • Embed maps from CaliParks.org along with activities and social media from your favorite parks in your blog or website. Just find your favorite parks, hit the “Embed” button, and copy the code into your site (like this)!
    • Take control of the way your favorite parks appear on CaliParks.org, and on social media. Post photos from your favorite parks to Instagram and Flickr and we’ll harvest them within a day to show on CaliParks.org. Just be sure you turn on location services so that your geolocation gets picked up.
    • Keep talking about parks on social media! Use the hashtag #caliparks so we can all share the conversation.

    And keep in touch! Thanks!

    Feb 26, 2015

    Taking Up Space: The Largest Leaseholders in San Francisco

    by Eric

    Ever wondered what companies are taking up the most space in San Francisco? Kalin Kelly, a director at boutique real estate firm CM Commercial, has been wondering the same thing and decided to take action to find out.

    Over the past few months, she’s been collecting all of the data she can find about leasing transactions in San Francisco. What she’s found is that the biggest real estate deals happening in the city (in terms of space) are mainly being done with technology companies, and that the lion’s share of it is happening along Market Street and into the Mission and Dogpatch. She predicts that the trend will continue south into the Mission.

    Is her prediction correct? Only time will tell. In the meantime, take a look at the map and see for yourself and read more about it in TechCrunch.

    Stamen founder and creative director Eric Rodenbeck has worked with Kalin Kelly as part of his work with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

    Feb 4, 2015

    CaliParks.org: Helping people find parks, and parks find people

    By Dan

    Today we launched CaliParks.org for the state’s Parks Forward Commission. CaliParks.org is the first statewide parks search engine that brings together expert-level park boundary and management data with social media content from Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare.

    Our mission was to create a statewide search engine for parks that would show you information about parks regardless of agency, so you don’t have to know (or care) who runs the park you want to visit. You just want to know where it is, what you can do there, and how to get there.

    With the definitive California Protected Areas Database (calands.org), CaliParks.org can tell you exactly which of the state’s 11,826 public parks are near you.

    With activities data from Hipcamp.com and GreenInfo.org, CaliParks.org will help you find out where you can do your favorite activities, from rock climbing to shooting hoops.

    And you can see what people are doing in those parks from photos contributed by more than half-a-million people, updated from Instagram and Flickr daily. Counts of Tweets and Foursquare check-ins within the parks give a sense of overall popularity and use.

    Tabulating those numbers in recent weeks reaffirmed a core tenet of this project: Parks are social. And diverse Californians will see themselves in parks. We know because we see them on social media. And showing that creates an invitation to share these public spaces. Indeed, the fundamental design principle for this project is that open data and social media can come together to create deeply useful tools to help people get out and enjoy nature together in their daily lives.

    Based on R&D work we’d done to harvest social media posted within every public park in the state (parks.stamen.com), we were engaged by Resources Legacy Fund and the state of California’s Parks Forward Commission, charged with charting the future of public parks in the nation’s most populous state.

    The products of our previous research work — complex maps of real-time social media that are beautiful in their own right — became the infrastructure upon which we’ve built a simple, powerful tool.

    The first view of the site is a prominent search bar where you can enter a location (anything Google can geocode) or hit the “locate me” button to get a list of parks near you. You can also tap one of the “story blocks” to get nearest-first curated lists we’ve assembled around several different themes.

    From there, you can narrow and tailor your search to see just the activities you’re most interested in.

    At launch, we have activities data and official park URLs for 816 large wilderness parks, plus key city park activity data for 5,447 urban parks across the state. And we have a web application that’s built for mobile. An interface available in English and Spanish (a big shout-out to Latino Outdoors for help on translation and user testing!). All tied into native routing software available on every smartphone.

    But it’s really just a start. There’s a lot more data that could be harvested, and a lot more service to provide to California, and potentially other states and nations!

    We especially hope to expand on the key idea that using social media and open data as a content database both radically opens up the parks conversation and also substantially reduces the risk of launching a new application.

    A radically open conversation means that sometimes we might hear and see things that make us uncomfortable. But with daily image harvesting, the solution is clear: Head out to the park you love and post some images! (Just make sure your location services are enabled.)

    Result: A richer and more engaging view about that park on CaliParks.org.

    But more importantly: A richer and more engaging representation of that park across diverse social media conversations.

    It might have been safer to build a walled garden: A site where we could control all the content all the time. But securing images for nearly 12,000 parks would be a monumental task.

    And if we’d gone down that road, tending that walled garden would do little for the larger conversation around parks in California. And the more effort that goes into a walled garden, the greater the risk: Walled gardens can be beautiful. They also tend to be short-lived.

    By tapping into the rich social stream created by hundreds of thousands of people living their lives and sharing their experiences, we hope CaliParks.org can be a key tool in building the parks conversation and community over the long haul.

    Now, it’s time to get outside. Find and share your next adventure at CaliParks.org!

    Jan 13, 2015

    The Zachary Watson Memorial Education Fund

    by Eric

    Last year, our friend and colleague Zachary Watson tragically died in an accident at the age of 29, leaving many of us shocked and deeply saddened. In his memory and honor, a few current and former Stamens have set up an education fund. It's being administered by our friends and neighbors down the street at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts.

    Zach was a well-loved and much-respected member of our community, involved with and leading some of Stamen's most iconic work. He was a free and independent man, quirky and full of life, pursuing his varied interests with a fresh eye and a big smile. So in that spirit, each year on March 14 (Pi Day) one promising young creative coder will receive a $5,000 grant from Zach's fund to help further their education. The funds will be provided free and clear, and recipients may use the money for whatever they wish.

    You can donate to the fund if you like; we want to keep his memory alive through helping others like him. And if you'd like to apply, or know someone who would, please take a look here for directions.

    I saw a lot of myself in Zach. Among other things, we were both the kinds of young men that thought suits and mohawks went well together. He was a smart and talented and fun guy, and I miss him a lot.

    Donate or apply to the Zachary Watson Memorial Education Fund here.

    Dec 16, 2014

    Get a drink of open data with MapIsArt

    Just in time for your holiday gift buying rush, we're announcing today a new partnership with MapIsArt. They're a new company formed to take advantage of the increased availability and accuracy of OpenStreetMap data by offering custom map products based on our watercolor maps. We're starting off with a couple different custom products: canvas, table lamps, marble clocks, serving trays, and (drum roll please) table coasters, and there's more to come as things develop. But in the meantime, show your love for Stamen & OSM by heading over to MapIsArt for custom map goodies!

    Dec 1, 2014

    Introducing Positron & Dark Matter: New Basemap Styles for CartoDB

    By Beth & Seth

    Ready to make lovely maps using open source data on an open source platform? Two new basemap styles – Positron and Dark Matter – are available from mapping platform CartoDB, waiting for you to make your own beautiful visualizations.

    CartoDB already has a suite of styles to choose from, but some of the ones using OpenStreetMap data were only available at limited zoom levels. With our new styles, visualization possibilities await at all zooms, creating an opportunity for depth beyond what’s been possible before now.

    Throughout both maps we’ve made clear labeling for cities, parks, water bodies, and administrative boundaries. We’ve also worked out the relationships between line thickness and outlines for roads, railroads, rivers, and lakes across all zoom levels. Relative brightness of various features have been tweaked to create an appropriate hierarchy of importance at all zoom levels.

    And finally, we’ve given some extra special love to the CartoDB offices in Madrid and Brooklyn, and the Stamen office in San Francisco (only visible when you zoom all the way in).

    It’s been great working with CartoDB to make it easier for everyone to make data visualizations. Now we’re excited to see what you make with what we made together.

    Want to use these basemaps with Leaflet.js? Here's how:

    var layer = L.tileLayer('http://{s}.basemaps.cartocdn.com/light_all/{z}/{x}/{y}.png',{
      attribution: '© OpenStreetMap contributors, © CartoDB'
    });
    
    var map = L.map('map', {
        scrollWheelZoom: false,
        center: [40.7127837, -74.0059413],
        zoom: 6
    });
    
    map.addLayer(layer);

    Let your data story sing!

    Nov 20, 2014

    Healthcare Variation: Location, Location, Location

    This week, the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), a longtime Stamen client, released a completely redesigned and updated version of All Over the Map, a tool to help policymakers, health professionals, and concerned citizens discover variations in the prevalence of elective procedures across California.

    Why does such variation matter? Well, it turns out geography matters when it comes to whether or not a person gets a knee replacement or has a baby through induced labor. And location matters even when the data experts working with CHCF corrected for other factors, like age, race, socioeconomic status, and so on.

    Using this map, one can discover that, if you’re a pregnant woman in Gardenia, you are six times more likely to have an electively induced birth as if you lived in Napa.

    That’s a big difference!

    All Over the Map 2014 is the third version of this interface we’ve designed and built for CHCF, going back to 2011. The key change this year was, well, change. With two data periods available for many procedures, we had the opportunity to highlight not just outliers in one time period, but also how much certain areas have changed over time.

    For example, though Clearlake residents had the state’s highest rate of coronary angiography from 2005 to 2008, that rate dropped by 47% in 2009-12.

    Working closely with CHCF, we were able to create an interface that combines bold colors and simple bar charts with careful and refined interactions and subtle color gradations to bring beauty and subtlety to highly technical data. Color schemes and legends highlight outliers in the data, while thoroughly storing variables in the URL means that all states of the map are easily shareable.

    How does your home region fare on the map? Find out!

    Nov 19, 2014

    A Blueprint for Global Water Security: Visualizing Urban Watersheds for The Nature Conservancy

    by Beth and Dan

    Few things are more vital to a city than safe, accessible fresh water. More than 20% of the world’s population lives in areas where access to clean, fresh water is challenging. It’s obvious: Healthy cities need reliable clean water to thrive.

    But how do we achieve that critical goal of safe, secure water supplies for hundreds of cities all over the world?

    The Nature Conservancy, working with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the International Water Association, has the answer: Conservation strategies could benefit more than 700 million people in the world’s 100 largest cities—one out of 10 people on the planet.

    A rich, new dataset created by Nature Conservancy scientists – and visualized by us – illustrates this opportunity, for more than 500 cities worldwide. In many cases, solutions are very manageable, making cities’ water systems safer and more secure while also benefitting wildlife and ecosystems. The dataset breaks down the water data metrics by quality:

    ..and by quantity:

    It also covers the nature-based solutions cities could use to make their water systems safer and more secure, including best practices for agriculture, riparian restoration, forest protection, reforestation, and forest fuel reduction. These actions help to conserve water while benefitting wildlife and ecosystems in the process.

    TNC brings incredible depth of knowledge to the work, and asked Stamen to help find a way to make their data approachable, engaging and navigable for city managers, mayors, water managers, and residents in cities around the world. The data itself covers 25 different variables for 535 cities, and those cities contain 1,840 “diversions” — watersheds, desalination plants, groundwater withdrawal points — and each of those has nine or 10 data points. If you’re following along at home, that’s 13,375 city data points and 18,000 watershed data points. It’s a lot for experts to manage, not to mention civilians!

    The goal, of course, wasn’t to drown people in all that data, but rather to reveal the most interesting and relevant information at the right time. The team at the Nature Conservancy selected 25 cities to highlight with narratives and images that highlight the story they wanted to tell — that conservation works for people and nature — and our map and page designs showcase that message.

    Once you find yourself on a city page, in Jakarta, for example, you can take in the whole sweep of that city’s water situation with a few simple charts and color-coded ratings. At a glance, you see that much of Jakarta’s water comes from afar, and that its overall water supply is very stressed.

    You might also easily see how neighboring cities – like Oakland and San Francisco, sometimes have very different water supplies and, consequenly, water challenges. In particular, San Francisco’s water quantity is stressed while Oakland’s is not.

    In the end, protecting an upstream watershed from deforestation can improve water quality as much or more than installing an expensive treatment plant. This has significant impact on the bottom line, and New York City’s story is a perfect illustration. In the 90’s the city was tasked to meet state and federal regulations to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. One option on the table was to create a water treatment plan to the tune of $8-10 billion, not including annual operating and maintenance costs. The option they went with instead was protecting the city’s forested watershed, which cost $1.5 billion and has yielded some of the best drinking water in the world.

    San Diego's approach is a different one: paying farmers to implement conservation measures so the water they save can then be used in the city.

    All in all, TNC estimates that the water utilities surveyed could save nearly a billion dollars a year by investing in watershed conservation. For more on the economic impact of water conservation, download the full report at the bottom of the opening page.

    This map is the culmination of years of work by TNC scientists. We are honored and delighted to have been able to work with them to represent their important work in a clear and accurate way. The Urban Water Blueprint is also designed to explore and share, so that people around the world can understand and talk about the water challenges faced by their cities. Most importantly, like TNC, we hope to see city leaders take action to protect water for people and nature.

    Less doom and gloom, fewer dollars spent! There’s no reason not to conserve.

    Get the Urban Water Blueprint for your city.

    Nov 13, 2014

    The Urbanist: Urban Cartography at SPUR

    It's no secret that the field of cartography has been going through some pretty serious change lately, and that a lot of this change is happening because of work being done here in the Bay Area. San Francisco-based nonprofit think tank SPUR has been tracking developments in the field and doing a lot to get the word out: their current Urban Cartography exhibit is in the pages of Dwell, San Francisco Magazine, and Curbed. We received our copies of the magazine that accompanies the exhibit today. It's great to see the iconic work that Eric Fischer does alongside our own City from the Valley map, Andreas' summer fellowship, and Alan's OpenStreetMap work.

    The exhibit is up through February 2015, so there's plenty of time to pay it a visit.

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