Google Maps
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Map slippage is real, and it’s about to matter

If an object does not exist on a map, does it exist at all? Do you? You can see it with your own two eyes, and yet it is exists outside your world. In the early days of mapping, when much of the world was unknown, such discoveries simply expanded the known universe. There was a world beyond maps. But now that we go through life with the reasonably well-founded belief that maps can accurately capture the intricacies of our world, the process of mapping glitches raises a whole new series of problems. When this happens in a game, it’s…

Buzfeed plane tracker
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Interactive map lets you see the FBI planes circling our homes

In an analysis of over 200 federal aircraft using the flight tracking website Flightradar24, Buzzfeed has put together a visual compendium of where and when government planes have been flying over US soil. The results, concentrated overwhelmingly over urban areas, spanned across flights from August to December of 2015, providing a glimpse into what the government gets up to when we’re not looking. Buzzfeed makes the helpful choice to display this terrifying data using an interactive graph with flashing colors. Weirdly, once you stop thinking about the meaning behind the map and start dragging and dropping it, it becomes a…

The Division
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Now you can explore The Division’s version of Manhattan in Google Maps

There’s a stillness to The Division’s plague-stricken version of New York. Rats populate the streets in greater numbers than do human beings, and a rustling newspaper is often the only visible object in motion beyond the player character and the omnipresent snowfall. The view outside of Madison Square Gardens is one example of how Ubisoft Massive has repurposed Midtown Manhattan to suit its game’s persistent, near-future crisis state. Fences are lined with razorwire. The digital billboard out front loops between two images: an American flag and the seal of the Catastrophic Emergency Response Agency, the game’s fictionalized version of FEMA. A tarp has been thrown over the…

firewatch1
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Printable Firewatch maps add a new challenge to the game

With its 1989 setting and focus on exploring the wilderness of the American West, Firewatch recalls a time before cell phones and GPS were common tools among those looking for adventure. Before Siri, the best option most travelers had for finding out how to get somewhere was still the simple paper map, with no guiding voice or blinking “you are here” indicator to make reading it any easier. To make up for this, car passengers would often double as navigators, reading through maps to find directions and arguing with drivers about which route was best—the main thing that’s changed is that we now shout…

Hyrule subway map
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Classic videogame worlds reimagined as subway maps

Few moments are more familiar in an old-school dungeon-crawler than the opening of a treasure chest, only to find a dungeon map. But if—for whatever whim of your fancy—you’ve been hoping instead for a subway map to unfold itself from those chests, you’re in luck: graphic designer Matthew Stevenson has created six sprawling “subway” maps, based on his favorite NES games. revel in these maps’ ability to evoke warm nostalgia Each map is unique, encompassing the specific visual appeal of the game they seek to compress. The Legend of Zelda (1986) subway map, for example, is intricate and sprawling—based loosely…

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Stand aside, Waze: Mapkin is a GPS app that gives directions like a local

Mapkin is a free GPS app that gives you directions like a local, tailoring your route with hints and suggestions submitted by drivers who have driven it before. While on the road, drivers can record messages reporting obstacles or landmarks such as, “Take a left at the light onto Main Street, just past the gas station,” or “The road is really curvy up ahead, so take it slow,” as listed by the app’s website.  All driver-submitted tips are then listened to, verified and utilized in the route directions by the Mapkin team. “We use a variety of tools including map…

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Hiroshima’s Street View for Cats is basically an RPG

“Japan just created a Google Street View for cats,” reports Vox’s Margarita Noriega, which sounds like a pretty good deal. A series of maps and visualizations created by Hiroshima prefecture’s tourism board, show a number of popular routes from the just-above-ground POV of a feline. As you stroll through marketplaces and other thoroughfares in street view, abstracted cat icons indicate the homes of other furry friends. These maps are of no use to Hiroshima’s cats  These maps are, of course, of no use to Hirohsima’s cats, which may appear online with alarming frequency but cannot actually navigate the internet. As the Wall…

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Buckle up: Absolute Drift is bending the built environment to a car’s will

Your car is not supposed to go sideways. If it has, you’re in trouble. This is but one of the reasons the expression “going sideways” refers to a breakdown. But in the grand tradition of things being so wrong that they are right, there’s drifting. It’s a motorsport practice that embraces oversteer to such an extent that a car’s front and rear wheels often point in different directions while drifting. When done right, a drifting car slides through corners, slicing up the pavement as if it was soft butter. Absolute Drift, which will be released for Mac, PC, and Linux…