Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Aerial Bold aims to develop an alphabet out of aerial maps.
Aerial Bold aims find every letter of the English alphabet in shapes made by buildings, roads, and natural and artificial bodies of water. But in order to do this, the project's leaders have to "read" the earth's surface first.
"We wanted to give something back that we're all familiar with," Lee says."What better than the iconic alphabet?"
Why are these guys asking for 10 grand? For one thing, developing a typeface is apparently quite expensive. And though Google Maps, Google Images, and OpenStreetMaps have mapped a lot of the earth's surface, there are layers of information that need to be uncovered for this project to work—and that requires time and expertise.
"Unless there are additional datasets that annotate the imagery, there's no way of knowing that the square feature is a building or a car," Lee explains. "Imagery is imagery, but it takes our culture and language to embed meaning into those images."
So the "two-man army" is trying to raise funds to get all the cool, computer-y stuff and people to run algorithms that search satellite images for alphabet-shaped topography. Because we're way beyond Helvetica now.