I've been using Google's simple map visualizer to picture some of the geographic data I'm gathering, but I've been looking for something more customizable and interactive. After a lot of searching, I finally found Mercator, an open-source flash library for creating maps. I've only been using it for a few hours, but already I'm very excited! It's not only very slick, with built-in animation and a clean look, it's also got a lot of depth, with data and graphics for an astonishing array of countries, states and cities.
The only down-side was getting started. The beginner's guide is aimed at someone with a deeper knowledge of Flash application building than me, and there was no 'hello world' example I could download, though there are several more advanced projects available. So, for anyone else out there who struggles with Flex basics here's a complete project for Flex Builder 3 that just creates and displays a Mercator map. You can see it running at the head of this post, or over at http://web.mailana.com/labs/mapview/
Manfred's done an excellent job on Mercator, it's a poster child for the quality of open-source projects, and I'm looking forward to creating some rich visualizations on top of it.