I recently attended the The 25th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management held in Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. If you are a geospatial professional looking for an interesting and challenging career, solid waste management is a growing industry with world wide appeal. Some of the interesting topics discussed were policy issues such as municipal solid waste policies at the core of the waste fires in Naples, professional certifications in different countries and their impact on the image of solid waste professionals, and many case studies from all world regions. Other topics were related to site placement such as for landfill siting, waste to energy, and electronics waste. Some of the most fascinating were waste composition studies, mapping of pollutants, and other GIS applications. I also found out that Institute of Information Technology employs more than 5 former ESRI employees at their route logistics company. I would encourage geospatial professionals, educators, and vendors to consider attending the conference next year.
Oscar time is here and several news sources have stories about vacationing in your favorite movie setting. The Telegraph UK article “Oscars 2010: film location holidays” explores locations of this year’s Oscar-nominated films such as Avatar,District 9, Precious, and Crazy Heart. Film induced tourism is a growing tourism draw according to books such as “Film-induced Tourism (Aspects of Tourism)”. Many tourism bureaus now have film tourism locations on their websites such as Scotland (Harry Potter, Chariots of Fire), Vancouver Island‘s flash map of locations, and New York City’s wonderful “Scenes from the City“.
Spring is a great time to start a new hobby or practice a very old one – walking. A Telegraph UK’s article on old-fashioned map reading skills discusses orienteering versus GPS. The U.S. Orienteering Federation calls orienteering the sport of a lifetime because it is both challenging and a lifetime sport. They believe it isn’t just a Scouting Merit Badge but should be an Olympic sport. There is even an internationally active Facebook page called “Orienteering should be Olympic“. According to an interview in Ultimate Orienteering “World Games is a unique opportunity to show our great sport to a big international crowd. I really think orienteering is a sport for the Olympics and by participating in the World Games I do my part in getting orienteering into the Olympic Games.” While it didn’t make it into the 2012 Olympics in London, maybe it will be in the 2014 games in Sochi.
It’s that time of year again. If you are in North America are you ready to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count February 12 – 15th? Each year “citizen scientists” helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,the National Audubon Society , and Bird Studies Canada learn more about bird population and migration creating the largest map of bird populations ever recorded. You only have to observe for 15 minutes and the GBBC site provides downloadable tally sheets of birds in your region. This year after reading a great article in the New York Times on landfills and bird diversity, I am participating in it along with several recycling centers and landfills in our state. I was inspired by the landfill bird blog hosted by a Wildlife Control Biologist on a landfill in Kentucky. His pictures are stunning. Other “citizen scientist” bird counts include the UK Big Garden Birdwatch (January 30 -31), Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (December 14 – January 5) which is the largest and oldest at 110 years old, and Cornell’s eBird which is a year round on-line bird count from citizen scientists around the world.
Before there was Avatar and even before Fisher-Price Viewmaster, there was stereoscopy or stereo photographs that presented scenes in life-like three dimensions similar to a Viewmaster. A recent book on one set of Stereoscopic photos of 1850’s village life titled “A Village Lost and Found”. It is a picture book that evokes the Victorian times of a specific village through a series of 3-D images meticously gathered over a lifetime of research. But one of the most fascinating aspects of the work is its relevance to geospatial and social networking technologies today. The authors, Brian May and spent years searching to determine if the village was a composite of multiple villages or a specific location, but it wasn’t until 2003 that they asked for help through the Interent community and someone responded with a, “Well, I live there” that it was solved. How many other geographical mysteries big and small have been solved or are waiting to be solved by the world’s increased connectivity?
It’s hard to believe that Fisher-Price View-Master reels are over 65 years old and kids are still playing with them. Even with the advent of hi-tech toys for kids, the View-Finder still produces inexpensive reels ($4.00) of Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob, and old Disney Classics. The red classic model is around $15.00. Accoding to The View-Master Ultimate Reel List over one billion View-Master reels have been issued since this unique stereophotographic format was invented and first commercially released in 1939. It was originally intended for travelogue/scenic subjects such as Carlsbad Caverns and other travel geography. According to author Natalie Bell, the View-Master and stereoscopic images in general “The View-
Master exists now a relic of the modern epoch; as a retrospective instrument that is itself an
archetype of a way of seeing.”
I found an interesting RFP today from NOAA that asks for research into “the effectiveness of current operational products, including graphics and uncertainty information”. Essentially it is asking a geospatial question, do our graphics work and do they tell you what you need to know. The geospatial compenent of weather forecasting is more involved than most users would imagine. The BBC has a Faq to explain why they went to 3D weather graphics. In 2008, The Weather Channel went HD and they continue to add tools and widgets. There is even a Facebook page called “I love the Weather Channel Graphics” with a plot of “”Using flashy graphics and smooth jazz to distract from a clear weather bias.” which is apparantly populated with their admins. NOAA has links to national weather data available in GIS formats, if you want to explore more.
I just came out of a very interesting dissertation defense on emergence and the geograpy of religion. One of the most interesting was the Glenmary Research Center data which is one of the only religious data centes in the U.S. The other being the Pew Foundation Forum on Religion & Public Life. His topic was “A Leap of Faith: Scale, Critical Realism, and Emergence in the Geography of Religion” Which I won’t go into detail about here other than to highlight this interesting fact. West Virginia is among the underreported Appalachia’s because on maps it shows up as being largely unchurched but as anyone who lives there knows is comprised of many, many small independent churches. This was just one of the interesting things I learned during his discussion. The other was about a small county in South Dakota that is registered as the largest Episcopalian community in the U.S. but is actually predominantly native American with only one Episcopal Church. If you haven’t checked out the Geography of Religon (GOR) you should, it is fascinating. In the Dictionary of Critical Realism, there is a chapter on Geography of Religion written by the now Dr. Ferber. The AAG (American Association of Geographers) also has a Geography of Religion (GOR) group. Great Job! Dr.Ferber
It’s not THE VATICAN but ruminate on how much geospatial data must be stored in The Vatican Microfilm Library and Pius XII Library in St. Louis that house the largest collection of manuscripts on microfilm outside the Vatican. They have a NEH and Mellon Fellowship for $1,750.00 per five-week period to visit the library but it is only open to graduates and post-graduates. You are probably saying to yourself, “Microfilm?” but they seem to have some digital material that may only be consulted in the reading room. The Vatican has many famous maps including the Gallery of Maps which were painted in the 1500’s.
The Earth and Space Foundation has an awesome but low funded award program to “funds expeditions that either use Earth’s resources and environments to help us understand other worlds and assist in the exploration of space or expeditions that use space technology and data to help us understand and care for the Earth’s environment”. It brings up a fun discussion point that I have had with many geographers. Is there still a need for Earth expiditions? There must be because there is Expidition Quest, an online community of explorers and adventurers chock full of them. Plus I know several hardy and adventuresome people who have gone to Antartica as part of NSF antartic sciences. Which not many people know is open to any U.S. citizen.
Other questions we have discussed included, “You know they are going to need interstellar geospatial specialists to go into space, would you go? Would you still go if you knew you wouldn’t come back? Has the geospatial field progressed far enough to make this possible?” I am just waiting for the awesome movie to come out based on the first interstellar cartographers. You know someone always has to be first in uncharted territory. or is that going to be done by technology from now on? Interstellar studies is already an expanding field.