Geospatial Dolls

The Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper has an interesting article asking, “Do these dolls perpetuate Canadian stereotypes?” It raises the question of Maplelea Girls, which are a Canadian version of American Girls, both doll lines created to interest children in their country’s geography and history. The dolls represent Canadian provinces and backgrounds, but Amanda Kwan asks “But as a whole, do they represent what it means to be Canadian? Can you define a national identity in a 46-centimetre plastic doll?” It is the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP) in doll form.

Using dolls to teach cultural geography is a long standing tradition and there are many sites online which specifically focus on dolls to increase geographic awareness. These range for the ubiquitous Barbie’s interactive map of dolls of the world to Langley’s Letter Dolls inspired by Kokeshi Dolls from Japan, and the lifelike Your Cultural Gifts geography dolls.  Elementary school teacher, Supattana Bolger, in The Review says that “This was a really great way to teach the students some history, geography and information about different cultures,” she commented. “You’d be surprised at just how much you can learn from a doll.”  The Smithsonian in Your Classroom used Native American doll lesson plans to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. because dolls have a universal appeal across cultures.

It is interesting to note that when Mattel created an early 1965 Student Teacher Barbie, she was a geography teacher complete with now rare geography textbook and globe. It was so popular they even made a hinged box stating that “Student Teacher Barbie looks very scholarly as she teaches her 6th grade geography class.” Barbie digression aside, it would be interesting to see a geography doll that represents modern geography and geospatial careers, not just one that portrays historic costumes or traditional concepts of globes and dusty books. Imagine a doll outfitted with gps to track all of its travels. The infamous Flat Stanley paper doll project has already gone mobile, tracking his travels around the globe. Why can’t other dolls join in?

NPR Laments the Death of Paper Road Maps

Paper road maps are becoming obsolete, claims a NPR report. Well, not completely obsolete, but less and less used by daily drivers as GPS and SatNav have taken over. A spokesperson for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials believes map printing may be one place state transportation departments cut to ease budgetary issues. Apparently Washington state got rid of printing them complete in 2009! I understand the view completely as technological has taken over. That being said, even this techno-gadget junkie will miss the days the paper map. There’s something to be said for a product you can toss in the back, or stick in your back pocket, or fold over the wrong way, or write all over willy-nilly because you don’t care what happens to it. Oh paper road map your dad yelled at you for ‘folding it wrong’, how you will be missed!

A VerySpatial Evening

As we enter July we approach several big dates for VerySpatial. The 12th is our 7th anniversary for the site, the 24th for the podcast, and our annual meet up/live show at the Esri UC to celebrate our 7th will be on Wednesday, July 25th. We traditionally do a meeting room at the convention center, but it is always a big room and a few people. This year we are heading across the street to the VerySpatial Condo (yes, we [I] brand everything) for an evening of geospatial, podcasting, and food (maybe even grilling if the grill is still there).

Unfortunately, since we are in a limited space we must put a cap on the number of folks we can fit on our patio. So, if you are interested in joining us from 6:30 until… please contact us to reserve your space for A VerySpatial Evening. We will provide more details as we get a bit closer to the UC and the evening.

For those of you who will not be in San Diego or will be a bit busy I have been working on the technical requirements to make sure we can do a Google+ hangout during the podcast as long as the network plays nice.

Lego, Australia, and Build with Chrome

There’s a good 124 (ish) reasons I love this site – Building with Chrome and Lego. The most important are because it’s Lego and a Map. The basic premise is you can grab a plot of land and ‘build’ your lego construct virtually on that plot of land. It can be a house or an abstract sculpture or pretty much anything you can envision in Lego (except those weird Lego Bonicle things my nephew lovs so much). It is also great to see Google really pushing the envelope of what’s possible with Chrome and HTML 5. More ‘food for thought’ is a great thing for near future HTML 5 work that anyone involved in web stuff is going to have to embrace. My only real problem with the site is that even though it is tied to space, it is a space most people won’t know. The constructs are unlikely to represent Australian in any meaningful way. But hey, you can’t have everything!

Now if Lego would just move the experiment a tad South East and render all their Lord of The Rings Lego, we could recreate the movies in Lego on the map. Maybe that’s just too much awesome for one app 🙂

The Most Popular Street Names in the US

Cars and geography go hand in hand if you ask me. After all, transportation is one of our fundamental layers in GIS, right? So Jalopnik’s post detailing the most popular street names in the US really struck my interest. I guess its no surprise that numbers are the most popular names, nor that trees are second. Personally, I wonder the popularity of tree names in areas compared to the trees they grow. Do more cities in, say, the pacific NW like ‘Pine Street’ than the middle states? I’d also bet there’s a lot of spatial clustering of names so that the numbers and trees tend to group together. Its pretty interesting that most polls show Abraham Lincoln as the most popular US President, yet George Washington gets all the street names.