FlowingData is a fun website created by a Ph.D candidate in statistics that “explores how designers, statisticians, and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better – mainly through data visualization”. If you think statistics is a dry topic, its probably because you haven’t seen this website. It’s amazing what decent data visualization does to make it easier to keep your eyes focused on data. He has a discussion of tables as visual obstacles to understanding data and an awesome quote, “Suppose that you are reading an article and the text refers you to a table on the next page. Before you turn the page, what are your expectations of the table? Chances are, you would like it to communicate trends and patterns. Chances are, too, that it will fail and simply deliver numerical minutiae.” I could reference some of the data he has explored in the past such as elevation data to show data but instead I want to focus on these fun visualizations — the history of the Beatles through their hair (time series) and How to win rock-paper-scissors every time (fun and educational). I think it would make a cool t-shirt like the rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock one at ThinkGeek.
Apartment Therapy has an entertaining post about a baby name map which is a mash up of the most popular baby names around the world. There are also baby name sites, like Baby Name Guide, that have categories dedicated to geography names or geo-names. Public Profiler has a cool tool to look up surnames by map and statistics.
At the request of a friend, I went looking for anything relating to Walt Disney and geospatial technologies. I found a cool internship at Disney for a civil engineering intern which asks for GIS skills. Apparently there are ways that affectionately called geo-nerds have fun at Disney World resorts that other people don’t such as finding all the marks placed by Disney surveyors in Disneyland and Walt Disney World compiled in one spot by Patty Winters. ESRI has case studies of the history of Anaheim, CA, City of Celebration FL, Disney, and GIS. Rand published a fascinating case study of Walt Disney World Resort and Environmental Management. I also found out the Walt Disney Resorts hold several GIS training conferences a year on varying topics including the American Water Association Conference on GIS & Water Resources. Which until I had read the case studies which talk about Walt Disney properties as being the size of Pittsburgh, might have seemed gratuitous, now it only makes sense.
Fedstats’ Mapstats for Kids is a collection of interactive games created to teach concepts about maps and statistics. It is based on the national standards for geography, math, and statistics. The characters are called Globie (maps) and Stixie (statistics).
One of the great educational booths at the esri conference was Chugach Children’s Forest in Alaska. I finally got a chance to check out their interactive website. Chugach Children’s Forest is a “symbolic designation for the entire Chugach National Forest: and “a ground-breaking new program that creates exciting opportunities for Alaska’s youth and communities to connect with Alaska’s magnificent public lands”. What I enjoyed the most and thought would make a great resource for teacher’s are the student films created by the Chugach Conservation Corps and other youth groups. National Geographic’s My Wonderful World blog has entries by student posts over three days field experience on their blog. My Wonderful World is a National Geographic campaign to expand geographic learning in school, at home, and in communities.
The technical workshop, 10 Things to Know About Managing GIS Projects, is red hot. There are over 150 attendees and standing room only out the door. The workshop is presented by Gerry Clancy and Glenn Berger of the ESRI Professional Service Division. Obviously project management is a hot topic for managers, technical specialists, and the in-between world that most of us exist in at smaller organizations.
1. Define a clear vision and success criteria.
2. Involve the user and stakeholders early and often.
3. Requirements, requirements, requirements
4. Manage change
5. Identify and manage crisis.
6. Use a phased approach
7. Promote communication among teams.
8. Don’t get enamored with technology.
9. Involve IT team early
10. Check out the video that will be available through ESRI. (Have I mentioned that it was super crowded and I was in the way back).
One of the most enjoyable things about attending the ESRI UC is interacting with all of the middle school, high school, and youth groups. Their enthusiasm is infectious — and that is just the teachers, parents, and mentors. The students are modest about their achievements which are usually civic volunteerism projects that benefit their community. The teachers, parents, and mentors are modest about the personal time and money that they invested in the project. They are all modest about the team effort, trust, and overcoming obstacles that volunteer projects entail beyond the geospatial component.
At the 2010 ESRI User Conference session on building content based learning environments on “teaching the teachers”, the speakers (Susan Flentie, Lewistown Junior High School; Jeff Dunn, University of Connecticut Libraries Map and Geographic Information (MAGIC) center, and Stewart Bruce, Washington College), brought up some of the core issues for integrating geospatial skills. The first is that often when teachers say “this would be too difficult for my students” what they mean is “this is difficult for me and I don’t want to look weak in front of my students”. For those who aren’t teachers, it is difficult to understand how much courage it takes for a teacher to let go of some of their authority in a class. Over the years of attending the ED UC and other educational conferences, the teachers who have overcome this problem often do so by taking the risk of learning alongside their students but the reward is that it encourages students to participate and feel mastery over a subject area.
Oregon Scientific makes some really cool spatial gadgets including remote sensors, rain gauges, and what they call sports,fitness,and play. The one I thought was one of those, “why didn’t someone think of that before” gadgets is the Walk Around The World Pedometer that lets you walk your goal city and set your “route” with rewards for reaching your goal. Of course, it can’t simulate the many steps of Romania or Mucchu Picchu, if you live on the plains, but its a fun way to make your “staycation” more fun.
Discovery News and Treehugger are reporting on the new citizen scientist MOGO iphone app which lets the users can “take photos of oiled or dead wildlife, tar balls and oil slicks and upload them into the database which pinpoints their location for rescue workers”. Science for Citizens.net is a blog that can matches up potential citizen scientists with organization projects. Science has a June 2010 article on how scientists can find and collaborate with citizen scientists such as using locating and managing volunteers. One of the most well documented citizen science projects is the Galaxy Zoo project which asks volunteers to classify galaxy images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope archive.
When is geography art, when an artist chooses to scatter them throughout cities such as Sao Paulo, Brazil; Sydney, Australia; London, England; and Barcelona, Spain.According to CNN, artist Luke Jerram and charitable organization Sing for Hope placed 60 newly refurbished pianos in public spaces throughout the city’s five boroughs.