The second edition of ‘The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide To The World’s Most Consequential Trivia” by David McCandless is out soon. He also has a website called “Information is Beautiful” for anyone wanting to check out his awe inspiring visualizations of seemingly everyday data. The is also an interactive visualization of health supplements that updates itself from as Google Doc changes.
Think back to when you needed to share maps before the Internet. Did that give you the heebie jeebies? Now think back to when you needed to share maps before the invention of the copier. It has been 50 years since the invention of the Xerox copier in 1960. Back then academics were still debating the impact of the USE OF A PHOTO COPY MACHINE IN MAP REPRODUCTION in the AAG Professional Geographer. Patents, such as this copy machine table United States Patent 4066023 described the map copying process as “Before my invention, it was impractical to copy specific portions of large maps, surveys, blueprints, or plats on a standard office copying machine because the surface of most copying machines was insufficient to permit such large sheets being copied to be spread out. Consequently, the sheet had to be folded, or allowed to drape over the edge of the copy machine.” Which explains the convoluted directions for How to Use Your Copy Machine as a Draftsman and this really cool book from 1982 on Thematic Maps: Their Design and Production. Many people would argue whether copiers make life better or not but it is only a matter of time before something more complicated and just as aggravating but necessary comes along.
So I was online last night trying to locate bulk orders of Altoids tins (Don’t Ask) and stumbled across the Where’s Sindy game on the Altoid’s website a game they launched in 2007 that involves using Google Earth to follow a trail of clues to locate Sindy the Altoid’s Cinnamon girl. If you remember, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? the premise is obviously similar. This is termed a geo-specific game which is being used more often in advertising and promotion. Think about the Lost promo and their integrated advertising. Oh and Altoids Tins, who knew they had a cult following from Altoid tin hacks to outright collecting of rare tins they are out of my price range.
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.