Weekend Open Thread (Belated): A Map of OC’s Population in Just the Dots


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I found something sort of cool that I thought worth sharing in this weekend’s (belated) Open Thread.  Pretending that you haven’t already seen the headline above, see if you can figure out what it is.

Dot Map of OC's population

Can you find your dot? (It’s easier if you live in the canyons than in Santa Ana.)

It’s (most of) Orange County, with the top tilted about 45 degrees to the left so that I-5 and the shoreline look more or less horizontal.  But it may be unlike any map you’ve seen — like Soylent Green, it’s made of people.  And it’s not the entire map — the entire map from which I extracted this includes every person in the U.S. and Canada, based on the most recent census census.  Zooming out at far as possible, and leaving out anything north of Calgary, east of the Canadian Maritime Islands, and west of Washington’s San Juan Islands, it looks like this:

Population Map of US

Territories not included.

Sure, you’ve probably seen a population map before.  But this one’s different: it zooms in.  A whole lot.  I gave South County short shrift before, so here’s maximum magnification (with a true north orientation) of San Clemente.  (The white diagonal stripe is, I presume, I-5.)  Some readers might, quite seriously, be able to find their own dots.

San Clemente "Census Dot" map

(OJB apologizes for the inclusion of a portion of northern San Diego County.)

And you can do this for all of North America north of the Rio Grande.  As the author writes: “The map presents one dot for every person counted by the 2010 US and 2011 Canadian censuses.”  In case you’ve lost count, that’s 341,817,095 dots.

This amazing time-sink can be found at this website.  The map is the work of Brandon Martin-Anderson, based on block level data.  He wanted “an image of human settlement patterns unmediated by proxies like city boundaries, arterial roads, state lines, &c.”  Yes, it was computerized; he wrote the script and a friend provided extra server capacity.  You can read more at the link.

Talk about this or talk about something else, as you please.  This is 2013′s first Weekend Open Thread.


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.