Archives for posts with tag: maps

We tend to see social media companies as perpetually growing, people getting machines. But, this isn’t really case. In actuality they’re something a little more tidal. For instance, in Canada there seems to be a plateau for Facebook users.

From the Toronto Star

The head of Facebook Canada believes there’s still plenty of room for the social networking giant to grow north of the border, but some new numbers suggest that may not be the case.

A report from Inside Facebook, which tracks usage and trends on Facebook, suggests the website is nearing another big user milestone, and is just 13 million users shy of hitting 700 million monthly active users.

But the report also says it’s growth outside of North America that’s fuelling the latest surge of Facebook use.

The number of Canadians using Facebook has recently dropped by about 1.52 million to 16.6 million, according to Inside Facebook.

The number of active Canadian Facebook users has fluctuated in the 16- to 18-million range over the past year, the report notes.

Canada’s numbers reflect a global trend suggesting that the number of Facebook users in a country seems to plateau when 50 per cent of the population is signed up.[source]

Despite Facebook’s perceived ubiquity, it seems like achieving a 100% user rate has to be damned near impossible. Google has come pretty close, but that’s after years of marketing and carving out its turf among a smaller batch of competitors.

There is some thought that social media is primed to peak over the next few years – there is a finite number of users after all. And, there is a lot of competition from  rising stars, fading giants, and other stable fiefdoms. If Canada’s Facebook plateau is an indicator, after meteoric growth, sowing up a market is going to be a tough slog for companies seeking universal power over our free time.

I will be here.

I’m going to New York City for the first time ever for any reason this weekend. And, let me tell you I am gosh darn excited (and a little nervous. It is a huge, dense, epically mythic metropolis, after all. It is bigger than anything this Canadian boy has every seen before.)

Of all the things to see, my heart is set on the NYPL’s Map Room. Oh yes. Maps! I’ve wanted to go there since I was a little kid watching PBS in the 80s. There’s more! It’s a great time for a bibliothequeophile to visit since the NYPL is turning 100 and is really working that angle.

So besides sight-seeing, shopping, and whatever else I can find in a city like New York, I will be seriously geeking out. Apologies to my travel companions, in advance.

Also, here’s a cool video of New York’s the collective digital (un)consciousness.

Pastiche—A Collective Composition of New York City, by Ivan Safrin & Christian Marc Schmidt from Christian Marc Schmidt on Vimeo.

Via @NYPLMaps (New York Public Library’s Map Division).

Conductor: from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

From Chen’s site:

Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram.

A  mesmerizing way to re-present geographic information. It also reminds me of video games (gotta love SNAFU) I played back in the Eighties.

For anyone not hip to it, the NYPL’s Map Division has been tweeting an online map of the day. Cartographophiles (a word?)  like me can dig it. But, if one new map a day isn’t enough, why not look at their digital collection and drool.

Map of London

Hand-drawn map of London by Stephen Welter

The New York Public Library hosted a neat looking panel today.

Future Library: Socializing History with Maps, Hosted by The New York Public Library

Event Description:


  • Matt Knutzen, Geospatial Librarian at the New York Public Library
  • Alex Rainert, Head of Product at Foursquare
  • Jesse Friedman, Product Marketing Manager at Google Maps and Earth
  • Jack Eichenbaum, Queens Borough Historian[NYPL’s event listing]

It’s a shame when you hear about something interesting, and it’s too late, and it’s in another country. Where are the teleporters, already? Science, I’m looking at you

Moving on, it’s exciting to imagine maps being used like wikis.  It’s a field that has largely been dominated by businesses and advertising, but there is a lot of potential here for less commercial uses. OpenStreetMap is an open source project already doing this.

Other popular free(but not commercial free) resources, like Google Maps or Bing’s equivalent, can be an underused tools for pushing community information out to library users and visitors.

Imagine walkable or bikeable tours you could follow via smart phone, with info links, archival photos galleries, recorded personal testimonials, and other information. Online maps can be turned passing on community knowledge that is often lost or fragmented by .

Or arts walks. Or even digitally augmented literary scavenger hunts combining geo-caching and book releases.

Like most web-based tools, I’m pretty sure the most en-genius ideas haven’t been thought of yet. The opportunity is there for any locally minded persons who want to plant a few flags in the digital world.

Also, how cool would it be to be a Geospatial Librarian. I want one of those business cards!


Stephen Welter’s portfolio site. Why not promote the analog approach?