Data visualization is the rage right now, as city managers release ever more information through open source APIs and creative programmers tease out trends in colorful maps and images, beautifully depicting statistics that would otherwise be stuck in a dense spreadsheet only an actuary could love. Media foundations have been busy giving money to pioneering shops like Stamen, while those in the burgeoning field eagerly await the release of an ocean of new information in the 2010 Census.
Even before the Census results are available, however, creative minds like Oakland resident Eric Fischer have been busy manipulating available data sets to offer insight into the traditional maps of our cities.
Fischer, a computer programmer known to wonks and city buffs for his wonderful Flickr catalog of transportation and development master plans that died on a dusty shelf, has used demographic data to show racial integration in major U.S. cities, to tremendous effect. The maps are marvels, showing how we stereotype portions of the cities we know by racial make-up and how dramatically redevelopment and racialized zoning rules from earlier eras have stratified neighborhoods into singular racial enclaves.