Well, it all took longer than I expected and it’s not quite what I imagined, but the maps for the September food inventory are finished and posted below. Here’s what I think you need to know about them:
1. The program I used is called Open Heat Maps; it’s a free tool developed by a clever New Zealander named Pete Warden. My old friend Beaker (not his real name, don’t worry) told me about the program and it’s ridiculously simple to use.
2. I couldn’t figure out how to annotate or “key” each map, so here’s the story: each circle represents a quantity, in ounces, from that particular place. If you hover your cursor over the circle, you will get a pop-up of the numerical value of the circle. Close inspection will reveal overlapping circles, which represent multiple instances of the zip code in the inventory. Keep in mind that the scale of each map varies by the maximum quantity in each list, so look for the value scale in the lower-left.
3. We are in the lower-right-hand corner of Washington state, near the borders of Idaho and Oregon. I couldn’t figure out how to place-mark it, but there we are, down south of Spokane.
4. I didn’t map everything. I though there wasn’t enough produce on the inventory to make it worthwhile, and I didn’t have clear enough data on its origins, although it was likely all from either California, Oregon, or Washington. The same goes for the bulk foods; I would have to have done more detective work to determine the source of it all, and some of it was likely untraceable. however, now I know I can map origins with just ounces and zip codes, so I can track future inventories better.
5. I tried embedding a link to each map in a single post, but those links refused to open. When I tried the “share” option, I got a new blog post with a functional link, so I went with that plan instead. Sorry if it’s confusing, but you get what you pay for 😉
6. I’m not looking at this as a finished product, but the beginning of a process. This is the first proper mapping job I’ve tackled on my own with computer software, and as such it’s a necessary compromise among the competing factions of available time, limited expertise, access to more advanced mapping tools, and a desire to produce something worthwhile in a short time frame. I’m planning another map which is a composite of all these, as well as a map showing the actual food-miles everything travels. Stay tuned, as they say.
I think that’s everything, but don’t hesitate to ask me a question if you need more clarification.