Wonderland Transit Map and other fictional places

Thinkgeek has a “Wonderland Transit Map” t-shirt, although they do add the caveat that static maps would probably be useless in the amorphous Wonderland.  It got me searching for t-shirts for fictional places that would be equally as useless for navigation.

I found a t-shirt for Neil Gaiman‘s “Neverwhere” which is a story set in a London Underground that is always changing. Of course, Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld is another constantly changing world, where maps don’t help.  A t-shirt map of Garrison Keillor‘s Lake Wobegon, a town so small it doesn’t need a map.   I couldn’t find a t-shirt but Catan from the Settler’s of Catan would be another place that a static map would be useless.

Tweet4Trees part deux…Like4Trees

Three years ago we decided to try to entice folks to follow us on twitter, and we used people’s love for trees to dupe convince them to follow us as we gave $$ to charity. Fast forward to the summer of 2012 when I decided to set up a new VerySpatial Facebook page (in addition to the already existing VerySpatial Friends group). I did this to allow for direct links to the podcasts from the FB page and to add one more place for me to visit at least occasionally. The downside is that with only a handful of page likes I feel that the FB page needs more attention (look at us, look at us).

I have decided (and I forced others to agree with me) that we will once again pull on folks heartstrings and their love trees, this time in exchange for Facebook Likes. I have dubbed this venture (sadly enough) Like4Trees*.

SO…for each person that Likes the new VerySpatial Facebook Page by Tuesday, 24 July (around our 7th Anniversary podcast) we will donate $1 to a tree related charity (no points for joining the Group, but why not make it a two-fer). Of course we are on a budget so we have a limit of $250, though hopefully that will not limit the number of followers.+

Last time, for Tweet4Trees, we made our donation to American Forests though we have not finalized who we will be giving to this time around so share your favorite environmental charities in the comments or on the Facebook page or in a tweet (@veryspatial) or in an email or in a boat or in a candygram (cupcakegram? Is that a thing? That should SO be a thing!!!)

If anyone is interested in matching our donations or making their own, let me know and we will give you special recognition on the podcast and blog.

We will provide the results of the Like4Trees drive during our show at the Esri UC in San Diego which will go up as Episode 367 on July 29, and of course on the blog.

*no imagination muscles were strained in the creation of this moniker
+if more than 250 folks like us and we have $$ left in the budget at the end of the year we will give more, though if previous years are an indication this isn’t likely

Insights Conference 2012

This year’s Insights Conference has come and gone this week. There seems to be little in the way of large announcements coming out of the event but I will point you to a few places you can catch on what happened down in the Big Easy.

  • The twitter hashtag was @InsightsCon
  • A list of the 2012 Meridian Award winners
  • Directions Mag has a summary of the changes in MapInfo 11.5 that you can look forward to.
  • And I have my fingers crossed that we might see some videos from the conference on the Pitney Bowes youtube channel.
  • Sim City 5 – Virtual cities like you’ve never seen them before

    When I saw the E3 trailer for the next installment of Sim City, due in February 2013, my first thought was – this would be great for an Urban Geography class….or a class on sustainable development…..or a class on government….or a, well you get the picture. Just the short preview that Sim City’s developer released shows a revamped engine for Sim City 5 with nice graphics, physics systems that bump up the realism, and simulation models that really let you see the consequences of your choices in building and managing your virtual cities. For anybody out there who still doesn’t think that the gaming industry has anything to contribute to education or exploring and solving real-world problems, watch this trailer:

    Watch Dogs – Hacking the virtual city

    Every year, the gaming industry teases us with the latest and greatest in new games and technology at shows around the world. One of the biggest shows, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) recently gave us a couple of previews that really wowed. The first, Watch Dogs, is by major game studio Ubisoft, and explores the implications of controlling all aspects of city functions, sensor networks, and even monitoring the inhabitants’ personal technology footprint through a single operating system, a “City OS”, and what would happen if someone had the skills to hack that system. The short preview of the game from E3 showcases stunning graphics and real-time movement, and shows that not only can the gaming world be a great source of inspiration and technology for geospatial applications of 3D and real-time modeling, but the stories played out in games can also explore the questions that arise from implementing this technology. Take a look at the preview here:

    Several Scales of the Universe

    You have probably seen this everywhere by now. Cary Huang and his brother Michael Huang have an updated Scales of the Universe 2 which puts the scales of a surprising many entities from countries to geographies to planets, people, and protoplasm into perspective. I also enjoyed the many variations of their scales, such as the original Scales of the Universe with the ability to swirl objects or make them fall. It is like being on a roller coaster of scale. On their website, htwins.net, they have other interactive simulations like a Tidepool. According to ABC News, Cary and his brother Michael are brothers who created this projects as a fun activity. It took them a year and a half to collect all of their data and put together the graphics. They were inspired by their biology class teacher to do citizen science.

    One of the reasons I enjoy going to the ESRI plenary is the chance to see the great ideas and projects that young geographers pursue after being inspired by people around them. Many organizations have mentoring programs such as ESRI’s GeoMentor Program and the Annual Association of Geographer’s (AAG) Ask a Geographer and other mentoring programs.  When I first used the Scales of the Universe 2, I expected the creators to be college students or adults. The fact that they are young adults, who were inspired to do it by an educator, and then have it go viral, in turn educating many, many other people around the world who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in geography, science, or technology makes it bigger than the interactive simulation itself. It highlights the impact of readily available technology, the importance of mentors, and the one of the roles of citizen scientists in science diplomacy. The Huangs and other young people act as ambassadors for the fields that their projects touch on to the larger world.

    I hope that they think about attending the many geography programs for young adults that are available and one day see them up on the ESRI plenary talking about their next big project.

    Spatial role-playing and virtual immersion

    It is interesting to find that there are many types of spatial immersion projects going on this summer. They provide a good contrast of how creative people can be with spatial immersion as an educational tool and the importance of experiencing an environment to understanding it in a new way.

    The original Virtual Trillium Trail was a virtual ecological environment created by Maria C.R. Harrington as part of her dissertation research in Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. It is represents real world field trips offered by the Audubon Society of Western PA and uses the Pennsylvania Department of Education Ecology Standards. Virtual Trillium Trail has been posted on KickStarter to try to get funding to make it into an online game.

    School of Architecture for All (SARCHA) Polypolis is a role playing social simulation that covers different areas of current events. They are currently presenting “Polypolis Athens: Become an Athenian and experience a city in crisis” for the upcoming London Festival of Architecture on June 23-July 8. The theme of the festival is The Playful City and Polypolis is billed as a Playful social simulation, but is playful in the way that serious games allow users to play in a immersive sandbox.

    Role-playing and immersion are always great educational tools; virtually or in real life. I have always enjoyed having students create their own role-play activities to share with classmates. I think that both k-12 students and adults respond well to role-pay as an educational activity. A paper on role-playing as an educational technique from 1958 sums it up well, ” Dramatic play has been enjoyed by children- and adults too, if you will — throughout the ages. It is a natural and spontaneous way of learning, but only comparatively recently have educators come to realize its worth as a teaching device.”

    Of course, Sue Bergeron and Jesse Rouse have done more than talk about the role of technology, such as the contributions of GIS, to making what educators dreamed about in 1958 possible. There is a good quote from  “Engaging the Virtual Landscape: Serious gaming environments as tools in historical landscape reconstruction and interpretation ”  that says, “Utilizing game functionality we can add sounds, smells, and other sensory input that would be part of such landscapes, and users can begin to experience phenomena that in combination creates a sense of place. ”  It is nice to see how role-playing has evolved as technology and spatial knowledge has evolved. It will be interesting to see what people come up with next.