How to Lie with Maps

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The following maps are generated from the same data but were altered in style (purposely) to portray Connecticut school district-level racial data in two very different ways. I sought out to create one map depicting sharp racial divisions between districts in contrast to another map illustrating widespread racial diversity among Hartford school districts. Google Fusion Tables were used to create each map pictured below by merging racial composition of Hartford-area school districts data with Connecticut town boundaries information. After formulating identical maps with Google’s assistance, I was then able to alter the viewing settings (or “map styles”) for each map to achieve my desired outcome as previously stated above.

Sharp racial division

To communicate sharp racial division, I selected the “buckets” option in the map styles menu to limit the appearance of widespread racial diversity. Specifically, I limited this map to represent only two “buckets,” or categories, of racial diversity. This narrow focus gives off the illusion that not only is there a stark contrast in racial composition between districts, but more specifically that racial minorities are highly concentrated in a cluster of districts central to Hartford.

Altering "buckets"







To represent widespread racial diversity, I followed a similar selection process as detailed above. I chose a multi-faceted gradient map that would give off the effect that racial composition in Hartford school districts is more evenly spread throughout. A total of six gradients allows for the reader to see a softer blend of colors among the school districts thereby representing widespread racial diversity.

Widespread racial diversity





Altering gradients







It is no surprise then that each map above contains the same information represented in an entirely different format, however, would this still be the case if I did not detail my “creative” process?