Mind-Bending Mappage

The most bizarre and intriguing aspect of election night was the collective instinct of the networks to drive with a foot on the the brake and the other on the gas. All the while winking whenever news came through that a decisive count was in from any state.

"Of course, we'll call it for Kerry or the President once all the provisional ballots are counted."

The panoply of data-driven maps were a lesson in color-coded torture. The example that resonates the most is a map of the voting technology used per district.

Besides the terrifyingly inaccurate voting systems in play (SAT-flashback optical scan, Homer Simpson write-in ballots, chad-addled punch cards), the actual color-coding system of the map itself (canary yellow, pale yellow, tan, cyan, chartruse) must have been the reject system from early 2002 Terror Alert System design days. Edward Tufte must be rolling in agony in his Eames chair.

Go to www.verifiedvoting.org to see the voting technology used in your district or in others. And push for reform!!

To balance this, NPR had a fantastic interactive map I watched all night as real-time data interfaced with the javascript rollover popup stats from the states. See NPR election map

For a fly-over view of Texas districts, check out this Quicktime movie.

Check out this beautifully gradiated version of our country by Robert J. Vanderbei departs from the bi-polar Blue vs. Red mindset to a more realistic depiction of the sliding scale in hues of purple.

See map.

Listen to an interview from Public Radio's Studio 360 [ www.studio360.org ], in which Kurt Andersen and graphic designer Paula Scher of the international design firm Pentagram, who designed Jon Stewart's best-seller America The Book, explore the grey areas, or at least the purple areas.

Scher notes the transition in ownership of the color red from the 1950's (Red = Commie) to the 1980's (Red = Respectible):

Well, I think the states have truly been branded. They've been branded by color. And I think it happened accidentally, but I actually trace it back to the 80s, when Nancy Reagan always wore red. And it was actually called "Reagan red." And I think that it was a perfect symbol for Ronald Reagan's sort of Republicanism, because, you know, it sort of affected power, being militaristic, and was something probably the Republican party could hang its hat behind.

See text version of full interview with Paula Scher.