Geospatial Analysis of “America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy”

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting in-depth report on Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy and an interactive map of the status of cleanup by state. While they call the interactive map an “interactive database” in their document on The Journal’s Methodology, it is good to see such in-depth meta-data and open methodology being used by a news site. They discuss where they found their data, how they used it, and missing data.

The Waste Lands project is also a venture into citizen science and digital humanities because, “Now that this database has been released to the public, the Journal welcomes additional information on these sites from the public. Send relevant tips, photographs, and documents to

Other than not using the words spatial, geospatial, geography, or spatial database anywhere in the project, it is an excellent example of how interactive maps can be a part of the investigative journalism process and not just a visual that draws the eye to an article.

The Geography of Twitter

The Switch writer, Caitlin Dewey, reviewed a recent study on Twitter in her article on “Where do Twitter trends start? Try Cincinnati” for the Washington Post.  It summarizes a study done at Indiana University on where Twitter topics trend and spread.  It found that Twitter trends that start in Cincinnati tend to spread out and reach other cities more than would have been thought for a city of that size. It concluded that physical geography has an impact on social media, which is often popularly thought of as transcending geographic location, by everyone but geographers and geospatial scientists – or do they? It turns out that The Geography of Twitter is a trending topic itself in the research world. Continue reading “The Geography of Twitter”

Remote Sensing as Art

A few years ago, I ran across a fun website, called Be My Satellite, which promotes geoliteracy through collaborative satellite image-hacking. It is a type of large scale art installment that uses the spatial pixel grid as a creative tool, typically for Google satellite views.   Another type of satellite art uses prints of images cut from Google Satellite View, Jenny Odell is a well known artist in this medium. Google Earth has generated many new types of art and revived others.  Google Earth Art blog asks if Google Earth is the inspiration that revival landscape painting needs. Other artists and photographers, such as Mishka Henner featured in DPReview are creating open-source art from Google Earth images that provide new perspective about life on Earth – much like geospatial analysis. While in late October, Clyde Space and iam8bit is releasing an Andy Warhol-inspired satellite created by artists Jon Gibson and Amanda White into space, making it the first space art installment.

Therefore, when a local artist told me that she had been experimenting with large scale art that you can only view from the air, I got excited. I told her that she was talking about geo-spatial art and that it was an actual movement in the art world. I was able to discuss geographic information science, remote sensing, satellites, NASA, Google, and the crossover of geospatial technologies and art.  It is always enjoyable when the topics that you like discussing and those that a friend enjoy discussing coincide – no matter how seemingly esoteric.  The next step is to use one of the many satellite trackers to identify a potential satellite and ArcGIS to mock up the installation. The hard part will be the attempts to align the two up just right – which  makes art and geospatial technologies a challenge.