Not Invented Here: Online Mapping Unraveled

  Carden  Michal Migurski and Migurski  Tom Carden, Stamen Design

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 20, 2009

At Stamen we learn by doing, often for clients and sometimes not. Oakland Crimespotting is a multi-year project which serves as equal parts public good, design testing ground and thinking piece. Much of our studio's output in online maps over the last two years can be traced back to ideas which we first explored in the Oakland Crime work. We'll present an overview of the project and its effect on our work, our thoughts on open source mapping code and wiki-style community maps. For the first time we'll also dig deep into some of the technical bits we're most proud of, including what we've learned about web scraping, image processing, geocoding, open geodata, cartography, heatmaps, slippy (tiled) maps and interactive graphical data filtering in Flash.


Stamen partner Michal Migurski architects the technical aspects of Stamen’s work, moving comfortably from active participation in Stamen’s design process, designing database schemas and API’s, to creating the dynamic applications that Stamen delivers to clients. Michal has been building for the web since 1995, specializing in data design and publishing for a diverse range of clients and numerous public, technical research projects and active open source codebases. He’s a Polish National and holds a degree in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley. He maintains an active weblog at, and likes to talk in front of groups.

Tom Carden joined Stamen in November 2006. Before that, he wrote passenger flow simulation software for London-based architecture firmYRM and studied for his Masters in Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation at University College London. He also has a Bachelor's degree in Artificial Intelligence with Mathematics from the University of Leeds.
Tom's computer science background has always been balanced with a strong interest in design and visual arts and he is actively involved in the community surrounding the Processing development environment. He was an early participant in OpenStreetMap, a project that aims to create free maps of the world using GPS and aerial photography, and his personal weblog Random Etc. has been a place for thoughts, sketches, interactive maps and visualisations since 2003.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine or using this video link.

Titles and abstracts for previous years are available by year and by speaker.