26 March 2008
Two rather similar maps

I got a shock the other day.  I was reading the online Telegraph when I came across this:

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In case you find this a little confusing it is, in fact, a map of the United Kingdom in which every parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon.

And the occasion for the shock?  Well, take a look at this:

image

Which is also a map of the United Kingdom in which every parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon.  A map I drew up over 10 years ago just before the 1997 general election (that’s why there’s so much blue.) They even both have a hole in Ireland to represent Lough Neagh.

What’s even odder is that the Telegraph was the only paper I ever sent a copy to. 

I wrote to the Telegraph pointing out the similarities between the two maps.  They wrote a nice email back denying any connection - and to be fair, it’s far from implausible that the similarity is entirely coincidental - lots of people have come up with similar ideas over the years. 

Having said that, it’s an odd, and not entirely pleasant experience, having one’s memory jogged like that.  Drawing up that map hurt.  The idea had been knocking around my head for years but I’d (and I know this sounds funny) never plucked up the courage to actually do it.  When I did, I sweated blood but I am very proud of it.

The fact that years later the Telegraph has taken up my idea and done more or less all the things I wanted to but couldn’t is very flattering.  Clearly, I was ahead of my time.

I’ll try to hold on to that thought next time I find myself wondering whether the Filing Cabinet is really worth it.

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  1. I’m impressed.  Why hexagons?  Is there some property of constituencies that makes them appropriate, or is it just that they tesselate nicely?  What happens if a constituency borders more than 6 others?  Presumably the answers are why making the map hurt so much…

    Posted by Rob Fisher on 09 April 2008 at 02:02pm

  2. Yes, the reason I originally chose hexagons was precisely that: they tesselate nicely.  It was only later I discovered that this might not be such a great idea.

    And yes, you’ve stumbled on the map’s weakness - it’s not topologically accurate.  What you have in the UK is a lot of seats concentrated in the cities.  That’s more or less OK but as you move further out…

    Mine is a bit better in this regard than the Telegraph but I don’t think it matters much.  So long as seats are more or less in the right place that’s OK.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 11 April 2008 at 04:13am

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