October 2005

software, visualisation, curiosity collective

I have been fascinated for several years that some places that are geographical closer, can take longer to get to than places that actually further away. I believe that people's ambitions are often limited by perceived distance. I have created a map showing the time it takes to get from Ipswich (my home town) to everywhere else in the country.


What does this show? The time taken to drive to coastal towns in the British Isles from Ipswich is found from mapquest. Ipswich is shown in blue. Coastal towns are shown in red, where the tail of the line is its actual location on the map, the head where it would be if the map were drawn according to travel time. The original compass bearing to Ipswich is maintained for every town

There are already some interesting things to be seen. Fast and direct roads can be shown to have a big effect. Contrast North and South Wales - the M4 effect? The Firth of Forth might get rotated anti-clockwise - the A1 effect? Islands such as the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Man are moving much further away, due to slow ferry journeys. Terrain will also effect journey times and this is to be seen in the mountainous areas of Scotland. Without a bridge towns on the opposite shores of an estuary will be moved apart, consider Dover.

The next step with this project is to add more coastal towns and use them as control points to warp the coastline. I think it will be very interesting to see how much the map of the British Isles can be warped, while still maintaining some essential quality of itself. When will it stop being recognisable as the British Isles? I am also planning to look at the dynamic qualities of such maps, for instance in relation to traffic congestion or train timetables.

This is my first fully warping map:


This project is implemented in the Java language.

This was exhibited at dorkbotlondon in February 2006.