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January 07, 2007

ZIP Scribble Map

Robert Kosara's ZIP Scribble Map

My friend Michael Fry reminded me of this clever and surprisingly serendipitous bit of data visualization, Robert Kosara's ZIP Scribble Map.

Kosara took a list of all of the ZIP codes, along with the longitude and latitude corresponding to each ZIP. He then drew a line connecting the location of every ZIP code, in ascending numerical order. The resulting graph turns out to have a surprising amount of order. Notice particularly how gaps naturally occur along the state borders (in the image above the adjoining states have been differently colored to make them stand out, but the gaps were not added).

I love how the location of state borders is hidden within the jumbled list of latitudes and longitudes, and they emerge only when graphed in this particular way. It reminds me of the types of hidden complexity Stephen Wolfram is always looking for.

The EagerEyes.org website has a full description of the project, as well as several larger format images of the Map.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at January 7, 2007 06:32 PM

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