Chris Mueller – Visualmotive

Thoughts on maps and visualization

Ten Examples of the Subway Map Metaphor

The visual components of a subway map make it a great metaphor for grouping and linking ideas or things across many different conceptual realms. We’ve collected here ten excellent examples of the subway map metaphor.

1. Milky Way

The Milky Way Transit Authority shows the spiral of the galaxy, with major constellations and nebula appearing as transit stations. Perhaps unsuitable for navigating an FTL-enabled spacecraft, but it serves well for orienting terrestrial astronomers.

The Milky Way Galaxy

The Milky Way Galaxy

2. People

We are surprised to see Leonardo da Vinci at the intersection of the Comedians and Italian Artists lines in Simon Patteron’s otherwise wonderful Great Bear map of famous people.

greatbear

Famous People

3. Music

Different genres of music are represented by different transit lines in Dorian Lynskey’s map, with bands and musicians appearing as transit stations. Björk is well-placed at the intersection of Pop, British Folk, Jazz, and Avant-garde. (thanks to Paul Lamere)

Musicians

Musicians

4. Publishing Trends

In this map of publishing trends, Soybits diagrams the connections of people, formats, and products involved in the publishing industry. The Kindle, iPhone, and Android platforms form major intersections.

Publishing Trends

Publishing Trends

5. O’Reilly Books on Open Source

The O’Reilly books are known for covering a wide range of technologies and programming languages. This map diagrams the relationships among books on open-source technology.

O'Reilly books about open-source technologies

O'Reilly books about open-source technologies

6. Web trends

As we mentioned in an earlier post, this subway map of the web by Information Architects is a fascinating exploration of popular Internet sites.

Web Trends Startpage shows websites as if they were the Tokyo subway

Web Trends Startpage shows websites as if they were the Tokyo subway

7. CMS Vendors

CMSWatch has published a diagram of popular content management technologies.

cms_vendors

Content technology vendors

8. Subway map of world subway maps

Penguin’s book on Transit Maps of the World features a map of subway systems around the world. While the connections between cities seem somewhat arbitrary, we appreciate the style and spirit of this map.

Transit map of world transit maps

Transit map of world transit maps

9. Cancer pathways

From Jonathan Stott’s thesis, Automatic Layout of Transit Maps, which we discussed previously.

Visualizing cancer pathways (Hahn and Weisberg, designed by Claudia Bentley)

Visualizing cancer pathways (Hahn and Weisberg, designed by Claudia Bentley)

10. Project plan

From Jonathan Stott’s thesis, Automatic Layout of Transit Maps, which we discussed previously.

Project plan

Project plan

Bonus: Gotham City

Gotham City Rail has published their transit map. Wayne Central is, as expected, at the heart of the city.

Gotham City transit map

Gotham City transit map

Mar 23, 2009

Category: Maps

Tagged: , ,

6 Comments

  1. [...] visualiseren volgens "metro-maps". Enkele voorbeelden van wat ik wil doen vind je hier: Ten Examples of the Subway Map Metaphor – Visualmotive Blog Weet iemand hier of daar een simpele tool voor bestaat? Google helpt me voorlopig niet… [...]

  2. [...] blog post on the subway map as a metaphor for other [...]

  3. sonia says:

    I love art based on the design styles of metro maps. Found another one here to add to your list – it’s a World Metro Map, though unlike the one from the Penguin book, isn’t based on existing transit systems, but appears to be a view of what a world metro map might look like, if the world’s cities were connected by a metro system.
    It can be seen here: http://worldmetromap.blogspot.com/

  4. [...] More examples on this blog: Ten Examples of the Subway Map Metaphor. [...]

  5. [...] blog post on the subway map as a metaphor for other mappings: This entry was posted in maps. Bookmark the [...]

  6. [...] Architects, utilise le métaphore du métro en se basant sur celui de Tokyo (vous trouverez ici d’autres utilisation de la métaphore du métro, sans oublier le Métro-Méta bien connu des bibliothécaires!). Chaque site Web y est [...]