04 March 2014

It’s Monday morning — I’m settling into my usual routine.

Nothing out of the ordinary, until I see this from Mapbox:

Hi Jacques,
You just paid $213.50 for your Mapbox subscription. Thank you!

All of a sudden, this is not normal. This is $208.50 from normal.

What happened

Rather than watch the Superbowl, I spent February 2nd making maps of the locations of English Premier League & Bundesliga stadiums. Aside from Old Trafford, I’d never seen the stadiums of teams I was otherwise familiar with.

I posted both maps to Reddit, both of which ended up making the front page of r/soccer, and garnering me 302 upvotes, which was 302x the total number of upvotes I’d received previously. So that was pretty awesome.

What I didn’t realize (until I got the bill March 2nd), was just how many views that translated to. In total, there were 427,000 people that viewed the maps I’d created. That still blows my mind.

Why that’s interesting

First, it means I forked over $208.50 more to Mapbox than I usually do every month. Financially that was not a welcome surprise, but when I stop and consider how often I use the opensource contributions that Mapbox team makes… well, they probably deserved a lot more.

What’s more interesting to me are the stories that you can ascribe to the maps. My own interest was in the physical locations of the stadiums, the teams that played in them, and the infrastructure surrounding each.

But the longer I looked, the deeper I zoomed. What started out as an interest in the relative locations of the teams became an interest in the relationships between teams, in the communities they were a part of. Different zoom levels, different contexts, different stories, same reality.

The goods

If you’re interested, both maps are still live, but I’ll be monitoring the traffic this time around.