Profile of Eric Fischer on Atlantic Cities: “Mapmaker, Artist, or Programmer?”:
Some people look at the abundance of urban data out there and see an academic research paper. Others maybe see a table or a graph or a chart. Self-proclaimed “map geek” Eric Fischer sees some of the most intriguing maps and spatial images found on the Internet, just waiting to be created.
“Ultimately, almost everything I have been making tries to take the dim, distant glimpse of the real world that we can see through data and magnify some aspect of it in an attempt to understand something about the structure of cities,” he says. “I don’t know if that comes through at all in the actual products, but it is what they are all building toward.”
The 39-year-old Fischer, who lives in Oakland, developed his cartographic interest while at the University of Chicago, when he came across the windy city’s 1937 local transportation plan. (It was a “clearly insane plan” to replace the transit system with a massive freeway network, he recalls.) Until a few weeks ago Fischer worked as a programmer at Google, gathering the data that guides his projects in his spare time.
Over the years Fischer has rendered loads of raw numbers into informative and visually powerful maps on a diverse range of topics: from race to language to the use of social media. The work is published in sets on Flickr (alongside an impressive collection of retro urban maps and street signs). His most popular set — “Locals and Tourists” — used geotagged photos from Flickr and Picasa to examine where visitors and natives take pictures in 124 cities.
Coincidentally just last week I came across & posted a map of Chicago Fischer had created. And coincidentally Fischer is AB’95 from the University of Chicago (see this uchicago.edu profile of him)—but don’t think I ever met him back then.