good design integrates multiple technologies, and highlights the issue, rather than the implementing technology. we of course need these technologies, we should support and invest in them. however we need to keep in mind that the issue is the important thing (e.g. healthcare, education, economy, workforce etc). technology (databases, CMS, digital maps, communication protocols, floating/scrolling tool bars - actually anything someone says is wicked cool about the web - etc) should support these issues; they should highlight them; they should help show disparity and gaps; they should help solve the issues, show where political compromise is; they should educate the public, and help us identify good debate and discorse; they shouldn’t act like they are bigger than the issue itself, because they aren’t.
geography has become one of these ubiquitous advancements in technology, mostly because of the ease of displaying web maps. two recent examples highlight excellent design integration of mapping technology in supporting policy issues. first the fed. govt. shutdown. the washington post ran a great article describing those metro areas in the country with the highest shutdown per capita workforce impact. second, and closely interwoven, is the impact of the affordable care act. the new york times also ran a great article highlighting where uninsured people live in comparison to the landscape of states expanding medicaid.
these two examples do an amazing job of helping illustrate the issues. by placing dynamic maps/graphics in text, to assit their thesis, we better understand the issue. our focus is not the technology used to create these sites and it shouldn’t be. my understanding of the local economic impact, and the states relationship w/ uninsured people is significantly better than with just text, or just the map. by interacting w/ circles of different sizes representing cities w/ variation in furloughed workers, i more completely understand those areas with the greatest impact. both issues are made more complete by interleaving text describing the issue, with wonderfully designed maps highlighting the text. these examples demonstrate how far we have come in developing web mapping technology. neither is a wall of text, nor a map taking up the full real-estate of the page. moreover, the map doesn’t have some crazy list of ‘layers’ to turn on or off, nor does it have an insane number of tools only geographic professionals will interact with. in fact, the interaction draws the user in and allows us to see even more variation in place. geography helps support the issue; better implemented maps drive better understanding of the complex landscape. both are expertly integrated designs.
the point here is that geography is an important asset in assisting the issue. geography helps us make connections. the technology used to define these products is less than secondary. it takes expert design, weaving the story w/ highlighting prose to make it all work. in my own work, we have strived for, but never reached this zenith yet. i look forward to sites in federal government that take on this kind of design. i look forward to a path, that is not technology centric, that is not software specific, that is not cms controlled, that is not campaign food. i look forward to technology assisting the issue, but being background. i look forward to when we can easily present something, and the comment we get is, “wow i really understand the conflict in spectrum allocation”, for example, rather than “thats a sexy map”. perhaps we will see more of this kind of approach in the federal government in the future; a boy can hope, can’t he?
December 04, 2017
i hope that there is a slim chance my children can experience some mountains or canyons, without handrails.
May 11, 2016
these charts help illustrate the mortgage landscape
February 18, 2016
tonight i have remembered the night it shook my bones. i just wanted to write about it for its own sake.
April 15, 2015
it is the opportunity to reflect that everyday activities are the most important thing. it is a milestone that the kid got back to the court from the darkeset depths of therapy, of surgery and of unknown and fear.
February 26, 2015
be very careful of any IT bandwagon, because in reality, it might be a fake band
November 01, 2014
i am so amazed by my uncle. my uncle paul, a stalwart in boulder colorado, has recently had a rebirth of music.
July 29, 2014
it gave me chills because i could hear the dedication in the voice of antero garcia, the teacher, when he asks "how could i have reached out to you better?"
July 12, 2014
I owned and road my first fixed gear bike in the winter of 1985. I was a member of my high school cycling team back then in Fall River (pronounced fall reeva) Ma. Winter's in south eastern new england are a little harsh, there is a good mix of snow, freezing rain storms, north-easters coming in off the atlantic which make for extra salt corrosion see rusty jones.
July 08, 2014
This is an ignite talk i gave at a staff event about american cycling and innovation.
May 24, 2014
Writing out the names of the people who made the success at the fcc. what they did. the real rock stars
November 09, 2013
its been eating at me. the constant tech news. the constant headlines about failed government IT contracting.
October 03, 2013
The antideficiency act is the law currently being invoked for having government employees not work.
October 02, 2013
yesterday was my 2nd furlough day in the 2013 government shutdown. three small things happened to me personally yesterday
October 01, 2013
yesterday was my first day of furlough in the 2013 government shutdown. during the day i did the following things
June 15, 2013
Why the recent GitHub release making geojson files automatic web maps is disruptive.
April 12, 2013
Recently at the FCC, we held an unusual day. We call it D(f)evEx (pronounced as either devex or fedex) Days, and this was our first ever.
March 22, 2013
Working on a previous conclusion that perhaps PDFs are not a great way to release data.
March 05, 2013
On Sunday, February 25, 2013, the White House released documents detailing the projected costs to states of the upcoming sequester.