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HQ2 week 1

We spent our first full week in the new studio, which I’m calling Stamen HQ2. It’s been a good week — HQ2 is a bit larger than we’re used to (and truth be told, comfortable with) so we’re still in that stage where we’re wandering around looking into corners and trying out the distances between the rooms. We’re getting there, putting the orchids back in the windows, setting up the kitchen, and figuring out how to interact with each other now that there are doors that can (but generally don’t) close. There aren’t nearly enough chairs, but the floors are really nice and clean, and we’re still pointing at maps:

The move is looking to have been a good decision in retrospect, as it turns out: we’re going to need some more room very soon (and HQ1 had basically no more of it) as our good friend and master mapmaker Aaron Straup Cope has left Flickr after a good 5 year run and decided to come and work at Stamen:

The good news is that I’ve accepted a position to frolic around and play with the trouble-makers that are Stamen Design because “it seems like too good an opportunity and one that I would always wonder about if I’d said no”. It’s not often you get to say something like that twice in a row and in the immortal words of Gibby Haynes: ‘It’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven’t done.’

To which I say: yay. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration (and I hope I’m not putting too much pressure on Aaron) to say that I think we’re about to see a whole new level of possibility open up as a result of this. Mike has been shouldering the increasingly heavy burden of responsibility for Stamen’s backend work on his own for a long time, and having Aaron around to work with him at the level that he can (and already hasis really exciting in its own right. And Aaron, in addition to having made a whole series of amazing contributions to Flickr over the years, has built things that derive location from geotagged flickr photos and fake subway APIs (you know, for when realtime proper APIs are an assumed part of digital civic infrastructure, just like electricity), and so we’re just tickled.

I say again yay:

Photo by Aaron

It’s been quite a week otherwise:

  • We launched a new business map for LOCOG, and it’s great to see the original map we made for them start to branch out into other uses
  • The custom cartography work we did for local news site Patch went live yesterday. We used OSM data to generate a set of map tiles that worked much better with Patch’s subdued green branding than Google Maps’s bright orange freeways did. There was a little flap about this, as people seemed to think that Patch should’ve used MapQuest’s map for this (the companies are both owned by AOL). From where we sit, it seems like using a MapQuest or Google map in your site is great branding for MapQuest or Google, but not necessarily for you — so we’re glad to see companies like Patch caring enough about their brand to extend it all the way into their cartography. You can see larger versions of the maps here, and learn how to make custom maps of your own at
  • We changed up the work we did with MTV on the European Music Awards, and the piece is (as of this writing) still tracking live twitter traffic related to the EMAs, here.

Alot happened that’s not publishable yet, and that’s a shame. Tom wrote up a “week at Stamen” mail last week that put the week’s goings-on into a diary format, at the encouragement of Matt Webb, who’s been writing wonderful weekly updates over at Berg that we’ve both been paying attention to. I love that they’re doing it, and the discipline of keeping a diary of everything that’s happening at our busy studio really appeals — but I’m not sure I have the time or the discipline, and as most of what I do (besides creative direction & generally running the business) is forward-looking biz dev, so it’s hard to talk about in public. Maybe I’ll ask Tom to help me write it; he seems to have a much easier time putting words down (for me it’s like pulling teeth).

Published: 11.06.09
Updated: 09.20.22

About Stamen

Stamen is a globally recognized strategic design partner and one of the most established cartography and data visualization studios in the industry. For over two decades, Stamen has been helping industry giants, universities, and civic-minded organizations alike bring their ideas to life through designing and storytelling with data. We specialize in translating raw data into interactive visuals that inform, inspire and incite action. At the heart of this is our commitment to research and ensuring we understand the challenges we face. We embrace ambiguity, we thrive in data, and we exist to build tools that educate and inspire our audiences to act.