Stamen is a design and technology studio in San Francisco.

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Recent blog posts

Dec 16, 2015

New, and hi Medium!

Well, it’s been a lovely 8 years, 10 months, and 3 days blogging at, but as of today we’re switching over to publishing on Medium at 3224 days is a long time and the web has (obviously) evolved tremendously since then, so we’re happy to dive head first, again! into a new way of telling stories. Look for contributions from many Stamens here.

I’m also thrilled to announce a complete overhaul of It’s literally the hardest thing for a web design company to do: redesign its own web presence. The cobbler’s children have no shoes, as the saying goes.

See you around.

Dec 4, 2015

Connecting environmental stories worldwide

The Earth Journalism Network, a project of Internews, has been working in geo-journalism for years. They stand out as leaders in using geo-spatial info to tell human stories. Because they are part of Internews, these stories cover crucial environmental, climatic, and political topics often for under-represented global voices. And their GeoJournalism team has also created a toolkit for journalists to use geospatialtools. They even train journalists to use our Field Papers project, which we think is pretty cool.



We’ve been working with EJN to merge these GeoJournalism projects into one global site, Open Earth. By putting all of these local stories from around the world together, it connects them into global narratives and patterns. Open Earth lets users explore all of EJN’s geolocated stories. The stories link back to their local sites, acting as a hub for stories worldwide about climate change, environmental impacts, urbanization, and global development. And the site will grow over time as more GeoJournalism regions pop up around the world.

Open Earth is launching this weekend at COP21, the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris. The Earth Journalism Network is in full force at the event, with 40 journalists from all over the world reporting on climate vulnerability in their home towns, from Arctic melt to Himalayan drought. EJN will feature these stories on Open Earth, when they unveil it this weekend at the Global Landscape Forum.

Of course, this is just the beginning. Open Earth is also building partnerships with organizations to add open climate data to the site. We'll be working with EJN moving forward to design this interface between personal stories and global climate data. More on that soon, & stay tuned to our Twitter feed for updates if you’re interested.

Nov 30, 2015

Maps + algorithms to bring infrastructure and services to urban slums worldwide

In the developed world, we take it for granted that every home or place of work has access to basic infrastructure and services. This includes clean water, electricity, sanitation, and access for emergency vehicles in case of need. But this is far from being the rule in many developing cities. It’s a particularly stark challenge in informal settlements or slums, home to more than 1 billion people around the world.

This year, Stamen has been working with the Santa Fe Institute and UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design for Slum Dwellers International to create Open Reblock, a public interface for their innovative research to develop better planning and development tools for informal settlements. The result is a publicly available tool at It takes maps of existing buildings and roads or paths and uses a sophisticated algorithm to create a map showing how city infrastructure and services can be brought to informal settlements with the least disruption for existing communities and their residents.

Informal settlements are part of cities worldwide, and they’re growing rapidly. Some demographers estimate that virtually all of the population growth on the planet in this century will effectively be absorbed by informal settlements. A single city “block” in informal settlements can have hundreds of residences, most without direct street access. It’s difficult to provide services, roads, water, and sewage, in these situations. One reason often cited for either doing nothing or for the demolition and redevelopment of these settlements is their lack of easy access for infrastructure and services. Open Reblock provides an alternative — a way forward for integrating services in existing informal settlements, respecting these communities, while helping them gain access to essential services. It does this by generating maps to connect as many parcels as possible — up to all of the parcels — in a block to roads and utilities.

This project builds on our history of working with organizations to create accessible mapping tools. Stamen has a strong interest in enabling digital platforms for engaging cities and humanitarian mapping. FieldPapers is used worldwide by NGOS and community organizations to connect offline and analog mapping efforts to OpenStreetMap. Our work for organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Climate Central bring big environmental issues down to a human scale, to shape conversations around conservation, climate policy, and the needs of people in cities worldwide.

Our continued contributions to and involvement in the open-source community is a company ethos. We believe that open and transparent data and mapping systems are good for the world. And they’re also good for business. We can’t wait to see how communities use this new Open Reblock tool, and the results of having access to this innovative use of open, algorithmic planning strategies!

Oct 19, 2015

"Bohunk computer modeling"

"It's just absurd, and it's all based on bogus, bohunk computer modeling. There's not one shred of scientific data," he said.

Rush Limbaugh just called our recent sea level rise work with Climate Central "utterly preposterous."

Bohunk? Because, you know, scientists are nerds and computer models so clearly don't work. We must be doing something right!

Oct 15, 2015

Toyota OnRamp Challenge starts tomorrow

Bill is down in Mountain View at Hacker DoJo tonight for Toyota's OnRamp Challenge, which starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday. We're helping curate and visualize data for the duration of the project and helping contestants access the data that Toyota's provided. If you're into tech and mobility, the event should be right up your alley.

Spots for test drives of this sustainable three-wheel compact vehicle are available this Friday and Saturday, if you want to consider joining the program. Sign ups for the program are available at

Oct 6, 2015

Toyota OnRamp 2015: Smart Mobility

Here at Stamen we've been hard at work with the engineers and designers at Toyota on a new data visualization project, and we’re excited to start sharing the details.

On Friday, November 13, we're helping to bring Toyota Onramp 2015 to San Francisco. Onramp will bring together great minds in Silicon Valley for a one-day, invitation-only event that will celebrate, explore and experience the future of driving and urban mobility. Innovators, investors and car enthusiasts will have the opportunity to test drive the Toyota i-Road, a sustainable three-wheel compact vehicle not yet available in the U.S., and the Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle.

A highlight of the event is the Smart Mobility Challenge, a contest open to the public that calls for innovators to help us think about how the Toyota i-Road can address urban planning and local sustainability needs in the Bay Area. Finalists will present their ideas to some of the Bay Area’s most notable thinkers on smart mobility, including Norwest Venture Partners’ Sergio Monsalve. The grand prize winner will win $15,000 and the opportunity to work with Toyota on the idea. At Stamen, we have been working closely with Toyota to analyze the data from an i-Road pilot run in Toyota City, and to visualize it so that contestants can better understand how the system could be rolled out in the Bay Area.

We're also helping to manage the process by which the broader creative community participates in the Challenge; think Art + Data Day, but for cars. There's more information about Toyota Onramp 2015, including how to request to attend, at, and you can follow along on Twitter.

Aug 31, 2015

You Say Denali

Mount McKinley, as of today, is now Denali. It's an important change, one that honors local indigenous names and draws attention to the very real threat of climate change impacting that part of the world, so we're glad to see President Obama stepping up to the challenge and calling attention to Alaska as a kind of climate change ground zero.

I'm proud to announce that our own Alan McConchie gets the bragging rights for having made the change on OpenStreetMap:

It's great to see community mapping respond so quickly to important events in the world., ahead of the big boys:

Apr 27, 2015


Cross-posted from

Two days ago a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) sprang into action, coordinating mapping activities from remote mappers (read about how you can help) and working with open source mapping groups on the ground like Kathmandu Living Labs.

One of the key components in any HOT activation is the humanitarian OSM style, hosted by OpenStreetMap France.

Unfortunately, the humanitarian style doesn’t include terrain data, which would be very useful when mapping in remote mountainous areas such as the Himalayan foothills that make up the hardest-hit area in this recent earthquake.

Using the SRTM 90m hillshade overlay that is the first outcome of our Open Terrain project, we created a composite style that adds hillshades to the existing humanitarian style. We’re calling this style humaniterrain.

You can access the style at this URL:

The XYZ template (for use in any online mapping library or GIS) looks like this: http://{s}{z}/{x}/{y}.png

This is a very rough attempt to get something useful up and running as fast as possible. Let us know if you have any questions, via email at or on twitter at @stamen.

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).

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.

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