Viral Myths and Misinformation in Culture

Did you know that bulls cannot see the color red, and matadors attract them simply by motion? Or, that Napoleon was in fact taller than average for his time? How about that the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space, filing a missing person's report with the police does not require a 24hr absence or that historical Vikings never wore horned helmets?  How  that shaving thickens hair?  

Each of these misconceptions are assumed widely, and have spread through popular culture and the media. Yet the team at  Information is Beautiful  debunked these prevalent myths, with the sources and origins scrupulously researched (below).  Whether spreading in virality as a result of folklore (I'm guessing gum and mucous myths), popular perpetuation as a narrative trope or device (think undercover cops or killer pennies) or reinforcing the mythology surrounding a figurehead or celebrity (in the case of Einstein or Napoleon), people and cultures actively accept and spread information that is simply and empirically not true. 

Why do we choose to believe these falsehoods then?  Perhaps an oral tradition is difficult to eradicate, or the simplest solution, albeit untrue, is easier to perpetuate than complexity. Or is media and literature inherently deceptive, relying on misleading tropes to create a believable framework?  We are certainly willing to craft mythologies around our heros, perhaps moreso post-mortem. All of this makes me wonder how deluded we actually choose to be. tigho viral myths debunked

from Knowledge is Beautiful

How Far is Your Manhattan Apartment is From the Subway?

If there is one thing I learned while living on the Upper East Side many years ago, it’s that York Avenue is quite a hike from the subway (at least as far as hikes from subways in Manhattan go). That fact can sometimes help keep housing prices down, at least until the 2nd Avenue Line comes in.

All that hiking got me wondering: What residential building in Manhattan is farthest from a subway station entrance?  Is it in the Upper East Side? The Lower East Side?  The West Side?

Well, in the spirit of my earlier Starbucks-Distance analysis, I turned to Open Data to answer that question once and for all. To do so, I merged two data sets, the MTA Subway Station Entrance data set and PLUTO, which gives information on all lots in NYC. I then calculated the distance from the center of each lot to the nearest station.The map of lots colored by distance from subway entrances looks like this (with green being close and red being far): 


And there on the map lies the farthest residential building from a subway entrance in Manhattan according to my analysis:10 Gracie Square, located at the end of 84th street at the FDR Drive.  It is 0.7 miles from the subway station as the crow flies, or 0.8 miles using the grid.  My favorite part about the finding is that the Penthouse, which I guess is literally the farthest place you can live from the subway due to the longer ride down in the elevator, is currently on the market for $18.9 million, down from $23 million last year.   That’s right, you can pay $18.9 million dollars to have literally the longest walk to the subway in all of Manhattan!  But fear not power walkers, there is also a two bedroom listed with a the same walk but a slightly shorter elevator ride… for $3.75 million.  

I’ve added a Google Doc for you to look up your own residential address and see how you compare to the rest of Manhattan.

From IQuant

Patchwork NYC: Neighborhood Collages of the Five Boroughs

NYC is a patchwork of ethnicities, neighborhoods, micro-economies and cultures.  Artist Jennifer Hill plays off this "quilt" metaphor, utilizing collage to represent the different districts of each of New York's five boroughs (except Staten Island), including the date in which the borough was incorporated.  You can purchase these posters here.

Neighborhoods included: Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Harlem, Morningside Heights, East Harlem, Wards Island, Upper West Side, Central Park, Upper East Side, Yorkville, Roosevelt Island, Clinton / Hell's Kitchen, Times Square, Midtown, Garment District, Murray Hill, Kips Bay, Chelsea, Gramercy, Stuyvesant Town, East Village, Greenwich Village, West Village, Alphabet City, SoHo, NoLita, Lower east Side, Little Italy, Tribeca, Chinatown, Financial District, Battery Park City, Ellis Island,

Neighborhoods included: Greenpoint, Williamsburgh, Bushwick, Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cypress Hills, Crown Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Lefferts Garden, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Prospect Park South, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Greenwood Cemetary, Greenwood Heights, Sunsent Park, Borough Park, Midwood, Marine Park, Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Sheepshead bay, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Fort Hamilton, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Sea GateQueens Map

The Queens Map Print includes the city's neighborhoods filled with a JHill pattern. The year Queens, New York was settled and its coordinates are included.

The Bronx Map

The Bronx Map Print includes the city's neighborhoods filled with a JHill pattern. The year The Bronx, New York was settled and its coordinates are included.

City vs. Suburban Walking

Since I moved to New York City about six years ago, I've always felt I've walked more than I did in a small town Indiana college.  Even growing up in the rural Pennsylvania, where I tread daily on a half mile walk to and from the school bus each morning, doesn't compare with my daily perambulation in the city. 

And here is why:  The sheer volume of businesses and services available in a city within walking distance dwarves the accessibility of the suburbs. The urban consumer is much more likely to walk to work or the grocery store, because it's so much closer to home.  Suburban commuters are inclined to drive, because they need a vehicle to get most places they want to go.

I think anyone in an urban area understands this implicitly, but the team at the Sightline Institute has illustrated this by actually graphing the area in which a commuter can cover in a mile's walk. A mile simply takes a person further in the city, based on the geometry of urban planning, whereas a suburban stroll leaves you navigating neighborhood cul de sacs and side roads. 

Both the density and proximity of desirable destinations make a city a more effective place to walk, and urban residents simply walk... more.

Strikingly Tigho: Slick Personal Branding Websites

Move over, a new personal branding site Strikingly is revolutionizing personal branding by offering one-off, customizable responsive one-page websites for people and brands. 

My Strikingly:

Strikingly gives you a number of default layouts, with a ton of features to insert your own branded graphics, links to projects or articles you've published, and to optimize your page for SEO.  The site gives you an image rich, parallax scrolling website to show off your skills and accomplishments.
As you can see I've added a number of my own social media profiles, as well as my professional websites, and my Ducati motorcycle photo blog.
Strikingly is currently giving one page away for free, with opportunities for custom domains including email hosting and unbranded content with packages starting at around $100.00 a year. 

Radial Cartography of New York City

Here are a several amazing infographics of NYC, reflecting the building height in relation to land value, and mapping Manhattan's development index, according to price per square foot and zoning regulations in relation to property values.  This come from a fantastic data visualization blog, with quite a few fascinating cartographic representations.

Two Dimensional representation of (3 dimensional) building heights.

Bill Rankin, 2006

Manhattan's land value represented by color density.  Similar to building height above, the highest valued land is clustered around midtown and NYC's Financial District / Battery Park City.

Bill Rankin, 2006

"Tax assessments are a tricky data source, since they do not measure market value — indeed, there are even tax-assessed "values" on public buildings and parks. (Here Central Park is "valued" at $1.9 billion.) But they do give a rough sense of relative values within the city: the pocket of wealth up near the cloisters, and the relative sparseness of the lower east side.

Note: even though this map shows building footprints, the land value shown for each building is per square foot of lot size."


a theoretical market 
Bill Rankin, 2006

In a hypothetical "perfect market," this map would be a consistent yellow-green. Every lot would be built up precisely in accord with its land value. Lots which were underdeveloped would be torn down and built up again with higher densities. Overdeveloped sites would lower the price of nearby lots, again establishing equillibrium. But government distorts the market (often in very good ways), by building low-density public buildings and monuments in central areas (e.g., the Public Library or Lincoln Center), or building public housing that the market would not otherwise provide (see the lower east side). Zoning also restricts development for the sake of light, air, and congestion.

Notice the difference between Midtown and Wall St.: Downtown looks very close to a "perfect market," while Midtown seems restrained by zoning. Notice also underdevelopment along Madison Ave. and Broadway, and the (thankfully) "irrational" presence of churches throughout the city.

Note: See also methodological notes about tax-assessment data on the Land Value map.

relation to zoning
Bill Rankin, 2006

In response to my original map of "underdevelopment" in Manhattan, urban planner Josh Jackson emailed me from New York with some ideas for a map which would show development in relation to FAR. This is my attempt at such a map. Thanks to Josh for helping me with these ideas; our email exchange is below.

New York is the Center of the World

From Radial Cartography