Map of highways and railways. Source: Natural Earth
Curiosity enriches human life. It was curiosity that tempted our distant ancestors to leave Africa, establish new settlements, and eventually discover all the continents. Perhaps the most vivid illustration of the prolonged effects of curiosity is the road network, the web of ordinary pathways that surrounds all of us.
Without roads, it is impossible to imagine modern civilization. Roads connect homes, cities, and countries. Roads develop economies and societies. Roads transform a simple movement from point A to point B into an exciting journey. This map shows all the land routes that help humans continue the exploration of the world.
Blue lines: railways. Red: highways. Source: Natural Earth, OpenStreetMap
The open data of the Natural Earth website and the OpenStreetMap service were used for the creation of this map. These are the most accurate & relevant resources today. Big thanks to their authors and enthusiasts who not only collect information, but also make it publicly available.
I had to use some useful tricks while working on the project. Just imagine how much computer memory would information about absolutely all the roads in the world take. Therefore, the larger the scale, the less roads are displayed on the map. The map contains only roads and railways: in order to simplify the visualization I omitted air and sea transport routes.
What's the Point
Any visualization is a Rorschach test with each viewer seeing something different. Although the era of geographic discoveries is long gone, each of us can still become an explorer via automatically generated maps. This project allows people to ask their own questions and find answers. It’s a way for viewers to become co-authors of the visualization by offering their own interpretation.
For example, the map offers a glimpse of the future world, where borders do not limit curiosity, and bureaucratic formalities do not interfere with travel. Thanks to the map, you can imagine a world without barriers.
In addition, the map allows you to better understand how unevenly the planet is populated. Land roads intertwine in tight tangles in cities and become less noticeable in desert areas.
Finally, you can use the map as a game: just try to find your city, street or courtyard without any textual keys. To navigate only by freeways, junctions, and transportation hubs you need some advanced skills!