Visualising a Community


At the dawn of the 21st century, The Guardian newspaper published this photograph



This image of Earth’s city lights was created with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System. The data were collected from 1 October 1994 to 31 March 1995 and were visualised on 23 October 2000 by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

When I saw it in The Guardian it was a breath taking moment. At the time my attention was focussed on the luminosity of Europe. Now that I live in Australia I am fascinated to see how well the map identifies Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Thereafter I have thought a great deal about how we might visualise networks of people. I had a very literal idea of this process and imagined that creative and knowledgeable individuals would be a light source.

The ABC and ICAC

Last week, a visualisation created by the ABC added a social network analysis dimension to my cartographic ambitions.

Here are some grabs to share the functionality of the visualisation:


The community:






Ben Spraggon and Simon Elvery created this visualisation drawing on information gathered by Tim Leslie and Adam Harvey.


It was interesting to see the ripple effects of this visualisation in social media. As a result of following the story, in addition to the Twitter alerts, I found:



Muck Rack

Muck Rack

and inagist:




I am profoundly interested in mapping knowledge communities. My hope is that this might be of interest to the very broad performance analysis in sport community.

Perhaps I have been overly influenced by Edward Tufte and Alfred Wainwright but I do think that the virtuosity being shown by innovative media such as the New York Times and the ABC is reason to be cheerful about cartographic prospects.



    • Hello, Tony.

      Thank you for finding the post. Like you, I think story telling is a great way to engage. I wonder if the mental maps of expertise you have are amenable to mapping … an APC rather than an ABC 🙂

      Best wishes


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.