When we look at a city in terms of a map, the map we most often use, whether paper or online, is a street map. Street maps tend to divide things according to political considerations. The city itself, the county it's in, maybe the neighborhood or borough. Streets change in character and function but most maps fail to express that change.
This is not the first unusual data-based map that Fischer, an Oakland-based programmer, has created. Among others were a series of 81 city maps that defined tourist and local spots based on geolocation data and duration of posting in the city.
In keeping with Rankin's map, he assigned red to white folks, blue to black, green to Asian, orange to Hispanic and gray to "other." Each dot represents 25 people.
The core areas where different types of people have congregated over time are obvious. But what is also obvious - something that people in a city know and maps don't - is how complex are the interplay of those areas and the shading of the borders. A rainbow is a bit of a mawkish symbol for the multiracial nature of the U.S. but looking at Fischer's maps, it's also an accurate one.
But that rainbow is narrow, according to Fischer.
"The maps of race are . . . maps of discomfort, in a much more long-term kind of way: of vast areas where people of certain races apparently do not want to live or are prevented from living. It's a fairly distressing thing to map because it's much more pleasant to find out where people are comfortable than where they are uncomfortable."