Monday, April 9, 2012

Visualizing Ocean Shipping

I saw some historians talking on Twitter about a very nice data visualization of shipping routes in the 18th and 19th centuries on Spatial Analysis. (Which is a great blog--looking through their archives, I think I've seen every previous post linked from somewhere else before).

They make a basically static visualization. I wanted to see the ships in motion. Plus, Dael Norwood made some guesses about the increasing prominence of Pacific trade in the period that I would like to see confirmed. That got me interested with the ship data that they use, which consists of detailed logbooks that have been digitized for climatological purposes. On the more technical side, I have been fiddling a bit lately with ffmpeg and ggplot (two completely unrelated systems, despite what the names imply) to make animated visualizations, and wanted to put one up. And it's an interesting case; historical data was digitized for climatological purposes, which means visualization is going to be on of the easiest ways to think about whether it might be usable for historical demonstration or analysis, as well.

So here are two visualizations.

[Update 11/12: For more of this, see my discussion of American shipping, and whaling in particular, from 1800 to 1860.]

The first one is long: it shows about 100 years of ship paths in the seas, as recorded in hundreds of ship's log books, by hand, one or several times a day. I haven't watched the whole thing at once, but skipping around gives a pretty good idea of the state of the database (if not world shipping) at any given moment.


You can watch either of these in much higher resolution by clicking around here or on YouTube--I definitely recommend 720p.

This shows mostly Spanish, Dutch, and English routes--they are surprisingly constant over the period (although some empires drop in and out of the record), but the individual voyages are fun. And there are some macro patterns--the move of British trade towards India, the effect of the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and so on.

The second has to do with seasonality: it compresses all those years onto a single span of January-December, to reveal seasonal patterns. I loop through a couple times so you can get a better sense, but the data is the same for each year.





There aren't many truly seasonal events, but a few stand out. There are regular summer voyages from Scotland to Hudson's Bay, and from Holland up towards Spitsbergen, for example: both these appear as huge convoys moving in sync. (What were those about?) Trips around Cape Horn, on the other hand, are extremely rare in July and August. More interestingly, the winds in the Arabian sea seem to shift directions in November or so. I also really like the way this one brings across the conveyor belt nature of trade with the East.

19th century ocean trade isn't exactly much my field, so I don't have much analytically to say about these. I'm hoping Dael might. I tend to generally think this source won't be that useful to historians, because it's such a funny set of ship's logs--dictated by climatological needs, by EU priorities, and so on. But there may be certain questions.

• You get some individual voyages of interest. The Battle of Saldanha Bay (1796), when a contingent of Dutch ships sail south and engage with the British in August by the Cape, is clearly visible on the map; so is much of the Resolution's route on Captain Cook's second voyage (1772-1775) through the South Pacific, including its southernmost point. Some other events--the massive Spanish convoys in 1778 leaving from Peru, for example--I can't place as easily. The Beagle, unfortunately, is not represented.

• This is nothing resembling either a comprehensive list of ships, or a random sample of the same. The world's seas, for example, were not actually entirely Dutch controlled in the mid-nineteenth century.

• The Pacific is, as I said, almost completely ignored in the records. Still, I'm amazed at how consistently the voyages end around Singapore/Batavia rather than proceed up to China and Japan. Dael's the expert on Pacific shipping, maybe he has something to say on this.

• Relatedly, so are the United States--possibly since this is biased towards naval vessels, and the US was mostly trading, possibly since this is an EU project. But French ships are almost as poorly represented.


A few more notes, though I think most things here are pretty self-explanatory. Each ship leaves a dimming trail behind it. I set them for four days long for the one-year visualization, and 180 days for the 100-year one. That lets one see more clearly, for example, that what appear to be two different trade routes on some maps are simply out-and-back on prevailing winds. On a long scale, this lets you see individual voyages; on a short one, predominant direction.

The basic code that got me started with the data was posted by Einar in the comments on Spatial Analysis. Logbooks aren't consistent, and so have to be massaged--I use ship and logbook names to separate voyages in the data, and don't connect any points separated by 60 days or 30 points of longitude/latitude. The basic idea for that is the same James Cheshire used for his maps on Spatial Analysis. The shapefiles for the continents are from Natural Earth Data.

You see a blink in the year charts at January 1st--that's a bug. You see another one at March 1: that's because 3/4 of all the ships disappear from the seas on February 29th every year. I just left that one in, because it's interesting.

Seasonality is a geographical phenomenon as well as a temporal one, so I positioned the month labels directly beneath the location of the sun at noon over Africa. This looks better to me than a time ticker, and captures the way the location of the sun enables greater sailing. I actually wanted to rhythmically deform the projection according to the position of the earth in space, but turned out to be a bad idea on a couple of counts. One of them is just how much the globe rocks back and forth--it's really kind of scary.

I use Gilbert's two-world perspective for the plot, because it gives a nice view on the Atlantic and Indian oceans, while wreaking havoc on the Pacific--that maps nicely onto the data sets. I thought about something more elaborate--like the "Lotus" projection used to display the oceans in the 1954 Times Atlas--but my GIS skills are not quite there. (And neither, unfortunately, is the mapproj/ggplot2 combo in R--lots of split lines, confusions on the global level, and so forth. I've been hoping I might be able to give up on ArcGIS for the next map project I do and keep everything in R--I'm not convinced after this experience that it will be possible). In any case: my apologies to any New Zealanders or Hawaiians out there. You are gone, but not forgotten.

72 comments:

  1. Very, very nice. These have all kinds of potential uses, including (I would think) in teaching. A lot of courses about the 18th or 19th century Atlantic world could profit from this visualization.

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    1. I just really wanted to see what this would look like. Certainly something from logbooks could be very useful. (I think there have been a few other climate projects since this one, which was 2001-2003, I think; including a lot of British U-boats, which is interesting). I'm worried this data isn't good enough to represent anything as it is, since it seems so wildly un-representative--the whole Pacific is terra incognita in a way that shouldn't really be true. (Or maybe it is).

      It can at least get certain things across (the importance of Capetown and Singapore).

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  2. Beautiful. I suspect that the underlying dataset is a real issue, but my udnerstanding is that there are a number of projects to add to it, that should help create something more comprehensive and useable (funded by climatology) and including all the British records. I love the seasonality of the Cod and Whaling fleets; and was surprised that the slave trade wasn't more apparent. And did I see a change to more direct routes as steam came on from the 1820s or 30s?

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    1. If climatology could get us something comprehensive on the British navy, that would produce some amazing stuff to work with. You can already see here some naval blockades, shifting priorities, and so on. Piggybacking on the climatological needs seems like a great opportunity, since the extent and activities of European navies and merchant marines is a really live historiographical question.

      Are those Hudson's Bay/Spitsbergen voyages cod and whaling? I couldn't figure out what they were doing myself. Would there have been naval escorts sent along with shipping fleets ever? I suspect there are few if any slave ships in here. Maybe they are packet ships, as Chris suggests below.

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    2. The Hudson Bay are probably fur, the bay is only navigable in summer, and HBC was in the trade within my memory.

      raymond larsson

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    3. Definitely fur -- there's a big collection of HBC and First Nations' artefacts in Scotland, with Aberdeen as the Scottish shipping hub, and many HBC recruits came from the Orkneys.

      http://www.abdn.ac.uk/materialhistories/collections.php

      As others have mentioned, the data's sketchy, but I love how it illustrates the connectedness of port cities an ocean apart, which often had more in common than those cities and settlements a dozen miles inland.

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    4. Spitzbergen was whaling and also walruses and seals for fur and blubber. Wonderful vizualization.

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  3. Hi Ben, thanks for this -- it's fabulous to see a graphic representation for a later sampling of the logs I've been working with!
    A few quick comments -- the VOC issued two different sets of instructions depending on the time of year their fleet was sailing to Java -- I'm going to see if I can pick that pattern out.
    Also, the national rate of survival of these logs seems to vary quite a bit. The French collected theirs assiduously, but having called up a few boxes of them this summer, there are a lot of 'fantomes' in the catalogues--so, a decent proportion of official voyages can't be in this database.
    The Dutch records are incomplete in different ways; you could check with Alex Bick, but I believe that most of the WIC material was 'deaccessioned' (they got rid of their archives in the ~19C?) so that would change the shape of their trade (for the previous century).
    More to come, but just wanted to chime in with my thanks!

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    1. Hi Margaret! Let me know if there's any more specific breakouts you'd like to see--the data does include destinations, so I could plot just Dutch ships going to Batavia, say.

      Has anyone digitized earlier logs? I assume it's very hard to get this resolution on longitude without working chronometers, which is right at the beginning of the period here?

      Dutch shipping certainly looks the most complete here, but that's possibly just because I know of English voyages that aren't represented--do you think there are any substantial Dutch/VOC routes that should appear but don't?

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    2. Hi again -- I'm crunched for time this week, but am finding your discussion w Dael fascinating.
      I am only aware of the data set you linked to, but the Dutch historian A.R.T. Jonkers processed a huge number of international logs for his dissertation on magnetic variation --that was mostly 17th/early 18th if I remember correctly. He's very into computer analysis, so I wonder if that might be available somehow?
      You'd still get longitude data prior to Harrison/the lunar method, but evidently it was so distorted that retrospectively plotting a voyage to NYC often made the vessel appear to have hit land somewhere as far west as Philly...

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  4. Great work. Does the data include packet mail ships? I looked at the Spatial Analysis site but didn't see specific descriptions of what types of ships were covered.

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    1. It's hard to tell--the data just gives ship names and nationalities, and I don't know quite well enough to tell more than that. I should post a little bit of this somewhere, and maybe one of the experts (Dael or Margaret?) can give some sense of what archives these are coming from.

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  5. Hi Ben--this is a remarkable feat! Very very cool.

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  6. I think the visualizations came out great, Ben! But the main thing I think better visualizations of the data has demonstrated is how limited the set is. To be sure, that's a very useful thing in and of itself....

    Looking over what the climatological folks say about their data it seems like the logbooks are primarily derived from vessels out on state business of some kind -- in this period, that means exploring vessels, naval missions, and the operations of some of the big joint-stock companies (EIC, VOC, etc). So, as you noted, you get to see some movement because of wars (esp. the Brit dominance of the ocean during the AR/FR period). It sure is a neat way to see the effects of winter weather around the Capes, or the monsoons of the Indian ocean.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, what I'm shocked by is the nearly-complete absence of any representations of trade with China, the world's biggest economy for the bulk of this period under consideration. In pure numbers of European vessels Canton was not the most visited port, but still -- there were tons of ships going there! Including official (or at least East India Co.) voyages! And this is not even considering the question of the absolutely huge amount of intra-Asian shipping going on (esp. India-China in this period). So the Singapore/Batavia wall makes no sense whatsoever except as an artifact of the data set (not least because only about 1,000 people living in Singapore before the 1820s; it was made an important port by British imperialism).

    This weirdness is replicated in the analysis presented in the CLIWOC's own trade route map, which shows a thin route that bypasses Canton and Shanghai en route to Japan. I don't want to read too much into a map with a spelling error in the title – this was clearly an informal effort – but almost nothing about the map is correct. This is, I think, what happens when you trust your data collection too much.

    Makes me a bit sad, really; I had a lot of questions about shipping density, periodization, etc. that this kind of thing could've answered if it were more representative.

    All that said, I think you and Erian have incontroveribly demonstrated how useful these kinds of visualizations can be – as much in terms of provoking questions as providing alternate ways of understanding the data. Now all we need is a GoogleLogBooks to start running queries on...

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    1. Thanks for that, it's good to know. Do you think there might be VOC but not British East India Company ships in the database, possibly? I was surprised how (relatively) few ships there were going to India, as well, compared to the number heading towards Malacca.

      Do you think that this Atlantic/Indian ocean bias is accurate for European imperial navies in the period? That seems plausible.

      There might be an interesting opportunity here, even: the climatologists clearly need more Pacific data to make up for the easy availability of Atlantic stuff, but they're consistently poking around in the naval archives--but maybe they should be looking at merchant marine logs instead, which do make it to Canton and tend to be located in different archives and more diffuse. There should be some way to redirect NOAA money to history grad students at the Peabody-Essex museum, or wherever.

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    2. Well, the VOC went bankrupt in 1798, so its over-representation in the later period is unlikely -- though there might have been a successor company, I don't know. The EIC records may have the same problems Margaret identified for the WIC; there were fires and a waste-paper sale at one point. But at the very least you should see a yearly flotilla of British ships coming out of India, as a convoy.

      I'm not convinced that the Atlantic bias is accurate for Euro navies, or at least not to that extent. The Brits, for example, blockaded Asian ports during the Napoleonic wars, and sent a big invasion force to China in the late 1830s. The absence of this latter invasion is especially notable, I think, because my understanding is the ships in it came mainly from India -- so this database is not only missing a massive amount of shipping activity in Asia (and to a lesser extent, the Pacific in the 19th-c), but also a significant portion of European forces, because they were based in Asia.

      Agreed that the climatologists clearly need more Pacific data, and that they're likely missing a lot because they aren't looking at "private" voyages -- though with the caveat that that shouldn't matter, really, until the mid-19th century (bc the EIC was active in a significant way until 1833). I'm not even sure that it's an archival problem, though; navies follow trade routes, after all (this is doubly true of the American navy, which couldn't navigate its way out of a paper bag without merchant help). My guess is that they just haven't yet gotten to the "East India squadron" files.

      Not that I would say no to a grant proposal using stuff at Salem, of course...

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    3. Do navies really follow trade routes, or do they just shuttle between naval stations? The second most common destination in the files is Spithead--do EIC ships go there, or just the royal navy?

      I wonder about convoys. You see quite a few in the Spanish records, but only one or two for anyone else.

      For reference, here are the most common places in the database:

      Nationality place Freq
      806 Dutch Batavia 737
      585 British Spithead 378
      763 Dutch 313
      1428 Spanish LA HABANA 284
      1022 Dutch Nederland 251
      1427 Spanish LA CORUÑA 248
      1171 Dutch Suriname 214
      1378 Spanish CÁDIZ 213
      1436 Spanish La Coruña 205
      1097 Dutch Rotterdam 202
      1455 Spanish Montevideo 202
      872 Dutch Curacao 187
      1031 Dutch Nieuwediep 185
      608 British St Helena 178
      935 Dutch Hellevoetsluis 166
      1186 Dutch Texel 160
      375 British Madras 151
      676 British Table Bay 147
      465 British Plymouth 146
      372 British Madeira 117

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    4. Wow, those initial numbers are going to be confusing, huh? Here's without.

      Nationality place Freq
      1 Dutch Batavia 737
      2 British Spithead 378
      3 Dutch 313
      4 Spanish LA HABANA 284
      5 Dutch Nederland 251
      6 Spanish LA CORUÑA 248
      7 Dutch Suriname 214
      8 Spanish CÁDIZ 213
      9 Spanish La Coruña 205
      10 Dutch Rotterdam 202
      11 Spanish Montevideo 202
      12 Dutch Curacao 187
      13 Dutch Nieuwediep 185
      14 British St Helena 178
      15 Dutch Hellevoetsluis 166
      16 Dutch Texel 160
      17 British Madras 151
      18 British Table Bay 147
      19 British Plymouth 146
      20 British Madeira 117

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  7. This is great! As someone who teaches and writes about the increasingly globalized worldview of the British Romantics (1770-1830), this is incredibly useful for me. Thank you!

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  8. Hi Ben. Great work. I have bus data that I have been trying to do something similar with. Right now, I just plot 10 points to represent the bus moving. I like how your animation uses a line that fades for this purpose. Can you share the code you used for this visualization?
    Much appreciated.

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    1. Andrew--here's the basic code used for the plots (will put up the code if I can clean it): the variable 'timelag' sets the time, and by setting alpha in ggplot to (timevar-mytime)/timelag, you get a gradient from 1 to 0 that's stronger the closer it is to the present.

      #This can be used for either type of plot--it's agnostic about the time variable going, and the lag can be set.
      mapPlot = function(myframe=useful,mytime=654100,timelag=34,timevar="time",...) {
      #I define half the plot here, and half later. No real reason. This is why I don't usually share that much code.
      myframe$timevar=get(timevar,myframe)
      myframe=myframe[myframe$timevar>=(mytime-timelag) & myframe$timevar<=mytime,]
      if (timevar=="time") {myframe$group = myframe$voyageID}
      if (timevar=="yearday") {myframe$group = paste(myframe$voyageID,myframe$Year)}
      ggplot(myframe,
      aes(y=Lat,x=Long))+
      geom_polygon(data=world,aes(x=x,y=y,group=id),drop=T)+
      geom_path(size=.5,
      aes(group=group,
      #This alpha here decaying by time is what makes the trails slowly erase.
      alpha=(timevar-mytime)/timelag,color=color))+
      scale_color_identity() +
      geom_point(data=myframe[myframe$timevar==mytime,],size=.75,
      aes(group=voyageID,alpha=(timevar-mytime)/timelag,
      color=color)) +
      ylab("")+xlab("") +
      opts(legend.position = "none",axis.text.x=theme_blank(),
      axis.text.y=theme_blank(),axis.ticks=theme_blank()) +
      coord_map(...)
      }

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    2. Thank you. It helped me very much. How long did it take you to create all the plots? For me, it takes a couple of seconds per image.

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    3. A couple seconds sounds maybe a little wrong, but in the right ballpark--once I had the code set up, I just started the process running before I went to bed.

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  9. I love love love these pieces! As a singer of 18th and 19th century maritime songs I want this up on a big screen behind me at concerts!

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  10. I tried to get some of the direction information that your movies contain into a static plot via use of colour. See http://unconsenting.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/shipping-1750-1855-visualised/.

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    1. Very cool. I like the movie cartogram you just put up, too--I didn't realize someone had ported the Gastner-Newman code into R, I'll have to play around with it when I get a chance.

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  11. Hi Ben,

    (a) This is awesome -- a clever idea and well-executed.

    (b) Thought you'd like to know you've been MetaFilter'd: http://www.metafilter.com/114927/100-years-of-ocean-travel-1750-to-1850

    Rob

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  12. Hey man, great job! As a brazilian I am just curious on why isn't there a portuguese line, since they were pioneers and had some importance on those days. Is it because you have no records on those ships? I believe portuguese data would have a great impact on the sailing routes from Africa to America, right?

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    1. Particularly in the early (pre-Napoleon) part, you're right that the Portuguese data would definitely add something. As with French shipping, I'm not exactly sure why so little was included--I suspect it has to do with preservation practices, and maybe the agencies that did the digitization as well.

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    2. Just to be clearer on the question of why the Portuguese is not in here--this particular EU log digitization project seems to not have included any Portuguese logs; I'm not exactly sure why.

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    3. I was wondering the same thing about how a Portuguese map of this would look. I've been working in the Lisbon archives this year and I would assume that the data is available. My project timeframe ends at 1750 so I haven't looked at anything after then, but there is definitely a ton of shipping data for Brazil, Angola and the Indies before that, and that's even with factoring in all the archival sources that got destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake.

      Searching the slave trade database (http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/database/search.faces) turned up 11,426 Portuguese slaving voyages that are recorded between 1514 and 1866. I wonder if those can be visualized in a similar way.

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  13. With this one I can help you: "from Holland up towards Spitsbergen, for example: both these appear as huge convoys moving in sync."
    That would be the whaling fleets travelling up there every year until the bases there were abandoned in the late 18th century.

    Also the expansion of Dutch trade to Indonesia happened after the Dutch republic/monarchy took over the possessions of the VOC (East India Company) and expanded them from a number of trade posts on the isle of Java into a full blown colony covering what's currently Indonesia.

    You're missing the one to two Dutch ships which were allowed to trade with Japan via Deshima as well. They'd have been VOC until around 1800, hidden under different flags during the Napoleonic wars and then resumed in limited numbers again until Perry opened up trade with Japan forcefully.

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    1. Interesting. Now that you mention it, I remember seeing some old Dutch prints at the New Bedford whaling museum, but I generally don't know anything about whaling before the Moby-Dick period.

      It's interesting that historians know these ships in the Pacific are out there, but they're missing from the climatological databases. Maybe it's not at a greater rate than we're missing the Atlantic voyages (and it's certainly at a lesser rate than we're missing the Mediterranean), but just for climate coverage, you wonder if there's some way to leverage the knowledge into data for everyone.

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    2. For my business we tend to ship off a lot of stuff. It hard finding one that is cheap, because a lot of them charge a lot for how much you have. I just hope this new place I found can help me out with a better deal.

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  14. Hey! I swear I could see the Surprise circling around pick up poor 'ol stranded Dr. Maturin!

    Great idea. Thanks.

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  15. Ben,

    I saw this from the link through Wonkblog. Great to see all of your work getting out into the mainstream!

    Joseph

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  16. This is really cool. Semi-related question: which program did you use to create this visualization? Adobe After Effects?

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    1. All free software--the ggplot2 package in R to make a few hundred png files, and then ffmpeg to stitch them together into a single movie. There's probably an easier way to do this, but just setting it up as a batch job and running took a couple hours that I didn't have to be there for.

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  17. bad work. Where is the Portuguese ships? the country who found america, brasil, africa, japon?????????

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    1. See what I said to Eduardo above. I'm sort of interested that more people are interested in the Portuguese data than the French (or the American, for that matter), which a similarly huge omission. Since the Portuguese do have wide coverage, they'd be a great addition to the literature.

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  18. This is terrific, and I definitely want to show this to my students in my Atlantic Literature class.

    I have two questions. The lines on your map are color-coded by nationality. Would it be possible to in some way represent the commodities and/or primary role of the ship? It might be interesting to see how certain commodity trades -- e.g., slaves, tobacco, sugar, cotton, etc. -- were seasonal and interconnected.

    I'm also wondering how many of those ships were commercial and how many non-commercial (military or whatever.)

    Thanks for doing this!

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    1. Yeah, wouldn't it something if we could actually show the triangle trade changing colors by commodity? Since this stuff was digitized for climate purposes, though, none of that stuff made it into the digital versions of the logbooks. That's not to say it isn't out there somewhere--some sort of crowd-sourcing effort or grant funding might be able to pull the historical context back onto these ships. (Aside from what I show here, the data also frequently includes ship names and origin/departure ports, but nothing else).

      I'm probably not actually the person to guess, but I suspect that a high percentage of these are national ships--either naval or monopolistic companies--since those tend to be the easiest ships to get at the logs of. But I think Dael, Tim, and Margaret above all have a much better handle on this than I do.

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    2. A color-coded visualization by commodity is a great idea. My sense is that it would indeed be possible to do something like that (albeit with a much smaller set of available data) for the eighteenth century Atlantic world. I suspect it'd be quite worthwhile because it would likely show that the textbook depiction of the triangle trade is a bit of an oversimplification of a very complex set of trade routes.

      Just wanted to add that I've greatly enjoyed reading the comments to this post! I'm excited to see how this sort of research progresses in the next few years, and hope to do something similar myself. (I'm working on a GIS map of the circulation of various early modern medicinal drugs in the Atlantic world).

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  19. See also: More on time-based GIS http://bit.ly/iZIAhT

    In particular, my comments on Capt. Cook's missing voyages and what happened to the data?

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  20. The HALF of the traffic if left out: The Pacific of Spain are out.

    Just for the record: The Manila-Acapulco (with their route taking them south of the Hawaiian Islands) Galleon Trade begin in 1565 with the discovery of the ocean passage by Andrés de Urdaneta, and continued until 1815. Two and a half centurys, the most large in time (and one of the most large in space) Ocean Shipping rout of the history.

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  21. Thanks a lot Ben, your job will help to visualize the maritime history of Galicia (Spain), Corunna is here, and most of the traffic from and to Corunna was originated by "Correos marítimos" something like "Royal Maritime Mail". We've made a post (on galician) about this on our site (http://www.culturamaritima.org/node/17754)

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  22. Wow, this is really cool. I really appreciated the visuals, that was awesome. I'm into shipping in Ontario, but it was really interesting to see it on a global scale. So thanks for sharing!

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  23. Thanks for sharing this information. I feel like the shipping methods around the world have changed dramatically. In Ontario, they have some very cool options. Keep up the great work!

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  24. I tried something similar 3 years ago, and foundered in the details, so its great to see you do it so well. I was looking for concentrations of ships at major battles, and perhaps try and sneak in the voyages of Hornblower and Maturin into the mix...

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  32. Quite amazing to watch but after about 1820 the voyages appear to be almost all Dutch vessels going to and fro the E.Indies. I also watched hard for Captain Cooks 1st voyage 1769-72 and the "First Fleet" of 1787-8 but neither were there.

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  33. Out of curiosity, what did you build the video with? Processing?

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    1. Dave,
      Processing is cool! I don't think Ben used it though. Deep in the comments, he said that he used R's ggplot2 package to create many PNG files and ffmpeg to concatenate them into a video. I see some of his code here.

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  34. I saw your condensed one year map recently via the Frank Jacobs site, and in my own blog at http://theindiaroad.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/digital/ explain the saiing patterns observed for the South Atlantic, which he incorrectly interprets.

    Those patterns reproduce the route discovered by the Portuguese in the last quarter of the XVth century and first used by Vasco da Gama - this was the route used to get from Europe and the eastern seaboard of the US to India until the end of the age of sail.

    Your animation also illustrates Gama's Indian Ocean route, using the summer monsoon to sail up the Mozambique channel and east to India (he made landfall at Calicut) and the return voyage using the November-March monsoon. Vessels then followed the Agulhas current west, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and headed home.

    I published a book called The India Road in 2009 which tells the whole story, and I will definitely be using this map in university lectures next year.

    Congratulations on such nice work, Peter Wibaux

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  35. So many years in only few minutes, quite a fascinating summary I could say.

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  36. Update: posted same via MapCentia's service on my AWS account

    http://54.194.60.93/apps/viewer/aizolnai/cliwoc/?fw=leaflet#osm/2/20.3906/45.4601/

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  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  43. I just found this - great work! I am working on a project similar to yours - involving historical shipbuilding data and creating visualizations in R or Tableau to tell the story. Do you by chance know of databases similar to the one you referenced that contains shipbuilding data?

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  45. Excellent Ben, it's obvious that a lot of hard work has gone into this study and I, for one, very much appreciate it. I found you via Exploring our Oceans, Future Learn btw

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