What is Metrocosm?

Metrocosm data the matrix

Data The Matrix is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled from a spreadsheet over your eyes to show you blind you from the truth.


What is Metrocosm?

Metrocosm is my collection of maps and other data visualization projects — trying to make sense of the world through numbers.


Who am I?

Max Galka profile - data visualization

Hi. I’m Max Galka, a guy who is fascinated by data.

My latest project Elementus aims to bring transparency to the blockchain ecosystem. My other current project, FOIA Mapper, opens up hidden government databases using the Freedom of Information Act. I also teach data wrangling + data visualization at the University of Pennsylvania. And I write about data visualization as a Guardian and Huffington Post contributor. Previously, I worked for 10 years as a trader at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse

I also enjoy working on data-related projects outside of work. My fantasy football models rarely work out very well, but the Texas Hold-em program I built in college is one of the things I am most proud of.

I am also a very happy & lucky husband, an aspiring vegetarian, a feminist, an information privacy paranoid, a Wharton (M&T) alum, and a former wrestler.

If you have any questions or comments about the site or just want to say hello, please drop me a line or connect with me on on Twitter: @galka_max.







Discussing my Freedom of Information research with NPR’s On The Media and presenting it to the FOIA Advisory Committee at the National Archives
Talking UFOs with the WGN Morning News Crew


Other projects

ICO bubble chart – four years of token sales visualized in one animated graphic

Blueshift – design and publish dynamic maps in minutes

FOIA Mapper – access to the world of “hidden” public data using the Freedom of Information Act

Metrocosmblog.tumblr.com – for images/graphics that did not find their way into a post here, but I still thought were interesting enough to post on their own

Resources for GIS / map making (discussion with Yalemakes / Yale Data Science)

My top 6 data visualization tools / a tour through the data visualization zoo

Millennium Development Goals – Indicator Correlation Explorer (my entry for the World Statistics Day Data Visualization Challenge)


Other writings

The Guardian: Bike share mapping creates beautiful portraits of London, NYC and Berlin

World Economic Forum: A Visual History of Gender and Employment

Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog: A day in the life of an M&T alum

Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog: Starting a Business is _________

Data Science Central: Data Science Has a Terminology Problem

Huffington Post: The Housing Value of Every County in the U.S.

Inman News: What the Comeback of Travel Agents Says About Real Estate

Inman News: Is the Zillow Trulia Merger a Death Blow or a Dying Gasp?

Revaluate: The Best New York City Maps of 2014

Revaluate: 5 of the Craziest Building in NYC

Revaluate: New York’s Most Expensive Apartments – Past, Present, and Future

Revaluate: New York’s Highest Rents

Revaluate: Broker Fees Explained

Revaluate: When is the Best Time to Rent in NYC


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  • saggypants

    seems to me like some of this data is BS

  • clarity

    Puzzled as to why you would self-describe as a feminist in 2015/2016. Tough to reconcile with being a statistician. To think of all the Gender Pay Gap lies etc.. Bad, Max!

    • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

      I added that piece after working on this post. http://metrocosm.com/a-visual-history-of-the-gender-employment-gap/#gendergap

      Was somewhat skeptical myself, but after reading through the research, it appears pretty conclusive that women do face discrimination at work, though it is probably not as bad as the 79% number everyone quotes. Not going to try to convince you, but if you’d like to see, I link to them at the bottom of the post.

  • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

    Debating issues like this online is rarely productive, but if you’d like to hear another perspective, here are my thoughts.

    Christina Hoff Sommers’ argument is that the 77 cents on the dollar number is the wrong measure, which I agree with. You can explain most of that difference away by accounting for other variables, such as occupation and working hours. So people should not be pointing to that number as evidence of a pay gap.

    However, it is equally wrong to conclude from this that there there is *not* a pay gap. Maybe gender discrimination is the reason why women end up in lower paying occupations. Maybe women work fewer hours because they receive less encouragement at work.

    The entire idea of looking at the difference in pay and trying to explain it with different variables is a flawed approach. There are an infinite number of possible variables to account for, and no way of knowing which ones are causes and which are effects. So it cannot be conclusive either way.

    The real question is whether women are discriminated against in the workplace. That is something you actually can test, by running experiments in which all variables are held equal except for gender. And every such experiment I’ve seen concludes that gender discrimination is real.

    Though, I’m also open minded, and would be curious to know if there is a strong counter argument.

    • http://www.freshwebservices.com/ Eddie May

      Gender pay gap is only one reason to be a feminist, there are plenty more reasons. Having a daughter is just one of the reasons for me.

  • HK Lover

    Hi, looking at your “disputed territories” (http://metrocosm.com/disputed-territories-map.html).

    When clicking Japan, 4 disputes are shown up including “Okino Torishima” which is, according to your statement, “an uninhabited Japanese atoll comprised of three artificial islets, each measuring about 600 square feet in size. Ownership of the islets themselves is not in dispute, but rather whether they qualify as islands under the U.N. Law of the Sea. If so, it would give Japan control of the waters surrounding the area, maritime territory that would otherwise be Chinese.”

    According to my understanding and public knowledge, Okino Torishima are NOT artificial islets (unlike the pure artificial islands built on the coral by PRC in South China Sea). Plus, the final sentence should be amended as “that would otherwise be public ocean”. No Chinese at all!

    Unless you are under control of PRC, better to amend.


    • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

      I stand by the fact that they are artificial. Just like many of the islands in the South China Sea, some small portion originally jutted above the water, but what is there now is primarily man-made.

      Perhaps you are right on the second point. Will go back to the original source and check, and if necessary, amend the text. Thanks.

  • Derek Clifford Gibson

    Good Evening from Aberdeen Scotland. I am mainly interested in Health and Fitness with a target on obesity and was impressed by you animated world map that would be fantastic to display o my website that I have recently launched though much to be done to bring it up to scratch. Would it be possible to show your map on my website http://thetruthaboutobesity.com with a message about our site Today I had nearly 1800 clicks on facebook .

    • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

      I’ve been to Aberdeen, beautiful place… Sure, please feel free.

      • Derek Clifford Gibson

        Hi Max,
        Thanks very much for your kind gesture how do I show your reference with the map.
        How do I show your map on my site do you have a url ?
        Derek G

      • Derek Clifford Gibson

        Hi again Max.
        Do yo have the url for the obesity map Max.
        Derek G

        • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

          Let’s take this to email: galkamaxd at gmail dot com. Please tell me what it is you would like to do with the map.

  • jodi Eng

    Hi, I’m a data to information to wisdom kinda person. Any chance we can make a map of red, blue and non-voters? I think it would be helpful to include that statistic to better understand the outcome and the next one. Thanks!

    • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

      Good suggestion. Will give it a look. Thanks!

  • Aviram Solomon


    Very impressed with you geo coding project
    i wonder if can you share the data

    • http://metrocosm.com Max Galka

      Sorry Aviram – just seeing this one now. I’m not sure which project you are referring to, but if you’re still looking for it, please send me more info via the contact page and I’ll see what I can do.

  • Patrick Cardiff

    Max, you are the man!
    Nor really, you ARE the man!
    I was looking for “when we started comparing campaign resources to get elected” or something like that, when did money all of a sudden “start buying seats,” in other words.
    I recognize there is a grand concern with the inference here, and I’m also wary of bias from such elegant illustrations, but this definitely gave me a start!
    Pat Cardiff

  • Negar Salehi

    Hi Max

    This is Negar. I am working on a book chapter for Obesity and I want to use one of the pictures.This is my email nsalehi1351@ yahoo.com. I wonder if you can send me an email, then I can send the offical request to you.

  • muhammad ali inam


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    As a conceptualization and historicization of both agency and the “human,”
    it is different from those conceived through humanism.
    and what is the futuer of research in humanisim, and we explain different tools and
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