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.
TreeHugger posted about the 300 Years of global climate change on one map. The best quote is “”In late 2009 the UK Government launched an Open Data initiative, headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, along with a call for innovations challenging the developer community to make this data more accessible. In response, Geo.me Solutions is showcasing a number of concept demonstrations using map-based visualisations.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventor of the World Wide Web.
TV Tropes is a great wiki that catalogs all the tropes inherent in media, literature, and games. They have several geovisual subjects including television geography such as “Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke manage to get everywhere in Vienna, despite only spending only one night there.” They cover Hollywood Atlas or the stereotypical Hollywood geography and “You Fail Geography Forever” for truly egregious errors. I enjoyed “The Patchwork Map” which discusses fictional geography. The GIS version is “The Big Board” and the Ominous Multiple Screens “which is the villainous version. Usually. “
I just read a weird article about “Some Ways to Make Children Think Santa Exists” that includes children follow Santa’s journey on Norad all the way up to a voice transmorgified phone call from Santa. Like “How to Lie With Maps“, it unitentionally raises some questions about how kids are influenced by technology. I would consider kids today to be more savvy than 1897 “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” or the kids (and adults) who believed in the Cottingly Fairies that were created using the new “photograph” technology. I think that GIS can enhance holiday experienes by tracking Santa, making family trees, showing hometowns, and generally intergrating it into everyday life. I am not so sure about voice changers.
The British Geological Survey, the world’s oldest national geological survey, is offering GEOSCIENCE, a free service for sharing geospatial information including maps, 3D maps, and photographs. The GEOSCENIC is really cool because it is geological photos from their archives that can be used free of charge for non-commercial purposes. They have a make-a-map function for students and teachers. I think that overall this site would make a great addition to history, geography, geology, or science lesson plans. I’m making a bunch of really awesome screen savers.
If you’re looking for map related gifts this year, one of the most extensive I’ve found is rare maps. You can search for maps by state or type. They even have a monthly contest to win a rare map . This December you can win a 1851 map of Russia in Europe. The only thing that I wonder about is if the maps are stand alone or come from old books. I love old books and may have to look at some of their old books too. I especially like the name of the book by reknowned map seller Tooley, “My Head is a Map”.
According to CNN, MIT has won Darpa’s Balloon Challenge. Darpa released the coordinates yesterday. They were the first to locate 10 weather balloon locations in the U.S. by promising to give away money in a chain format to all who send in locations. The DARPA Challenge site maps the locations of all the balloons in case you want to see if one was near you. Did anyone out there participate?