Virtual Tourism = Real Tourism

The Wall Street Journal has an article that highlights the money to be made in the convergence of real places and their virtual counterparts in games. Much like many seaside resort towns the beautiful Atami hot springs used to be Japan’s honeymoon spot but due to competition from Hawaii and Australia was experiencing a serious downturn. However, in the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ Atami is still a vibrant, romantic destination for virtual steady girlfriends and their real life boyfriends. The town of Atami hit on a great marketing strategy when they decided to recreate the virtual experience in real life by creating a LovePlus + destination vacation. Much like how movies such as Twilight can create tourism for their respective locations, games are another great tourism cross over idea. This should be in every great marketing textbook next to the Got Milk? Campaign and movie product placement.

Wedding Geography

Several crafty types have created homemade moving compass wedding invitations for their weddings including a heirloom quality one made of recycled chip board, a super fun interactive one posted on Crafster with a great compass related poem, and some artistic hand drawn maps and compass invitations by Pier Gustafson. On the basic logistics side, many wedding sites are offering free wedding mapper tools to create wedding directions on-line or to insert into invitations such as a cute one from WeddingMapper, MapIcons which lets your replace standard Google icons with wedding related ones, and custom wedding maps by Natalie Michelle on Etsy. Of course there are a number of GIS people who have proposed spatially including Cathy & Brian’s heart shaped Finger Lakes, Leslie and Michael’s Street View proposal, and Derek & Kristen’s Garmand GPS proposal. I don’t personally know any of these people but congratulate them and offer my own compass related quote, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery”.

Visualization of Tabular Data

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.


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.

Chugach Children’s Forest

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.

10 Things to Know About Managing GIS Projects

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).

The Mentor-student-teacher relationship

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.
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Walk the World

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.