|BLOCK MAPS FAQ's
ANYWHERE BE MAPPED LIKE THIS?
ARE POSTCODE AREAS?
THERE ANY OTHER FEATURES OF THESE MAPS THAT
MAKE THEM USEFUL?
THESE MAPS REMINISCENT OF THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ELEMENTS?
ARENíT SOME ELEMENTS
NAMED AFTER REAL PLACES?
GOT A SUGGESTION FOR IMPROVING IT / IíVE FOUND A
CAN I BUY PRINTS OF THESE
MAPS FROM YOU?
In my job, we sometimes need to present data about postcodes, and a map is
a very visual way of doing this. I often wanted a postcode map that I
could use in presentations, but one where the individual elements could
easily be colour coded. This map meets that need Ė it is very easy to
create and modify, and while it makes compromises about geographical
accuracy, it retains enough similarity to real geography to allow users to
relate it to the intended locations.
But in theory you could make a map like this in many different ways, which
is part of its attraction.
You could make one using many other types of
computer software, including graphics/presentation packages like MS
Powerpoint, word processing packages using the table functions, and
database packages like MS Access.
Using spreadsheet or database packages, you
could link the map elements directly to the related data, to drive colour
coding, or the inclusion of other elements such as peopleís names etc.
You can also easily create a map like this even if you donít have a
computer, by using graph paper or plain paper and a ruler and pencil.
You could even produce one on a typewriter, or out of toy building blocks.
And you donít even need to have detailed
knowledge of the geography of the area youíre mapping Ė as long as youíve
got a rough idea of the relationship between the elements.
CAN ANYWHERE BE MAPPED
I donít see why not. In principle you could map any set of areas like
this, as long as you can make acceptable compromises about geography. For
the UK postcode map, the size difference between the smallest and largest
areas is so extreme Ė many small areas in London, generally much larger
elsewhere Ė that I had to use a separate enlarged section for London,
which I think is acceptable. The USA has a similar problem Ė many of the
mid-western and western states are roughly the same size (and roughly
square too!) while there are many tiny states in the north east, but Iíve
managed to get them all in without needing an enlarged section.
WHAT ARE POSTCODE
Postcodes are assigned by the Royal Mail to every address in the UK, to
help them deliver mail, and therefore form part of every address. Many
commercial addresses will have their own unique postcode, while
residential addresses usually share a postcode among a group of houses. A
typical postcode might take the form ZZ99 9ZZ, though there are variations
on this - the second part tends not to vary, but the first part can also
take the form Z9, Z99, or ZZ9. The first one or two letters of the
postcode are called the area code, and these are derived from the name of
the local city or town, or in the case of London, from the district of
London - for example, S for Sheffield, SA for Swansea, W for West London.
The other parts of the postcode are allocated without reference to the
name of the local town or city. As the area code is the only part of the
postcode that is obviously derived from a named town (and thus can be
guessed if the postcode is not known), this is what I have based this map
Postcodes are widely used in business, for
reasons other than addressing mail. They are commonly used to decide
insurance premiums, and to split sales teams into regions. My employer
uses them, among other things, to help manage the physical distribution of
goods, which is another very common use. There are sometimes requests to
change postcodes from people who believe their postcode unfairly
influences their insurance premiums or their real estate value, both of
which can happen, but the Royal Mail usually rejects these requests and
makes changes only when they deem it necessary for operational reasons
related to mail delivery (such as new buildings making existing postcodes
full). Although the postcode areas appear all the same size on my map, the
Royal Mail make no attempt to have postcode areas the same size, either
geographically or in terms of the number of addresses.
Wikipedia has a good section on
ARE THERE ANY OTHER
FEATURES OF THESE MAPS THAT MAKE THEM USEFUL?
Most maps attempt to achieve a high degree of geographical accuracy. But
they are often used for purposes where pure geographical accuracy is not
really that important. In the United States, the individual states differ
enormously in population, and their populations are utterly dis-proportionate
to their geographical size. Thus geographically accurate maps of voting
patterns, for example, push small but highly populated states out of the
picture, which becomes dominated by geographically large but often
under-populated states. Maps like this one have an added value when the
individual elements do actually have equal significance in some respect Ė
in the USA an example is in the US Senate, where each state has equal
representation by two senators. Here's
someone else's attempt at something similar.
ARENíT THESE MAPS
REMINISCENT OF THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ELEMENTS?
I thought so too, hence the map of postcode elements.
ELEMENTS NAMED AFTER REAL PLACES?
Yes they are, including
IíVE GOT A
SUGGESTION FOR IMPROVING IT / IíVE FOUND A MISTAKE!
Great ! I welcome corrections and suggestions for improvements. Send them
to me at
email@example.com. If I agree with you, Iíll change the map for
future versions (though maybe not soon).
CAN I BUY PRINTS OF
THESE MAPS FROM YOU?
I don't currently have facilities to do this. If enough people are
interested in this, that may change. Let me know if you're interested in
this - mail me at