SFI External Professor Mark Newman and collaborators have published a book that enhances readers’ understandings of complex demographic data.

The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live (Thames & Hudson, 2008) contains 366 cartograms depicting data sets as diverse as literacy rates, military spending, overweight children, television viewing figures, and endangered species.

Cartograms are maps that depict geographical areas rescaled as spatial representations of statistical information. They provide a visually compelling reference of how regions or countries compare not by their physical sizes but by their importance in the context of the statistical quantity under consideration.

The rainforests of South America, for example, with 30 percent of the world’s fresh water, make that continent’s nations balloon in an analysis of water resources, whereas Kuwait, dependent on desalinated seawater, disappears from the map.

Mark’s co-authors are Daniel Dorling, professor of human geography at the University of Shef eld (England), and Anna Barford, a research associate at the University of Sheffield.

Mark is an assistant professor of physics and complex systems at the University of Michigan. His original cartogram work was done in collaboration with former SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Michael Gastner and former SFI Graduate Fellow Cosma Shalizi. They are best known for their cartograms that rescale U.S. states by voting patterns to offer more telling perspectives of U.S. elections than the traditional “red state vs. blue state” maps.