Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Geography of Everything

GroupLens from the University of Minnesota and the WebSAIL group at Northwestern University have just released a new map based search engine called Atlasify. Atlasify lets you map just about anything.

For example, search 'cricket' on Atlasify and you get a map of the world with a number of countries colored green. The dark green areas show locations around the world which are very related to 'cricket' and the lighter green areas indicate places that have a less strong relation. The map reveals that Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa and England all have a very strong interest in cricket.

If we search 'Mormonism' instead we find that the USA is the most related country. Zoom in on America and we see that the most closely related state to Mormonism is Utah, which is the state colored the darkest green on the map.

The red dots on the map show individual locations that are especially associated with our query. In the case of 'Mormonism' we find in Utah that Salt Lake City is closely related to our search term. Click on the Salt Lake City red dot and Atlasify tells us how the location is related to our query

Atlasify’s doesn't only confine itself to showing you results on a map. Atlasify actually supports any 2D reference system, for example a periodic table. If we search 'Atom Bomb' on Atlasify we unfortunately find that a lot of countries have a close relationship to the atom bomb.

If we change the results option from 'geography' to 'chemistry' we can switch from the map view to a periodic view. This shows us that the atom bomb has a very close relationship to plutonium.

At the moment Atlasify has four different reference systems. As well as the geography and chemistry views you can also see the results of your search query related to politics and history. Select the politics option after searching for 'Atom Bomb' and you get a nice (if frightening) view of politicians who are closely related to nuclear weapons.

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