A fellow geographer just gave me the cutest and most appropriate Valentine’s Day card he created. He printed them out in the traditional small Valentine’s Day Card style used in grade school to give to other geographers. Clinton Davis has it posted to his WVU student website but he is also letting me use the image on Very Spatial. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Web Map Solutions, a mobile application development company, recently posted their “Hot Topics in Mobile GIS” in which they reflect on the development trends they see in the applications they have developed or are developing for clients. Their list includes applications such as cultural resource management, genealogy, political campaigning, and mining. This list would be an accurate reflection of overall trends in mobile web applications. One of the hottest is related to true mobile applications – one’s developed for the automobile industry.
The Wall Street Journal has a recent article on the mobile app market, “Mobile Hot Spots: Web Radio, Apps Move to the Dashboard“. They say that mobile apps such a huge growth market that car manufacturers are setting up mobile and spatial app shops in Silicon Valley to be more integrated into the development process.
According to ReadWriteMobile, a web channel devoted to the mobile application industry, the projected growth of the mobile web app market is over $100 Billion by 2015. Of course, they have an interest in seeing that market increase but the spatial application market seems to be growing as more and more people expect it as a matter of course during their every day routines.
In December, the Guardian UK website posted the questions for the notoriously difficult King William’s College quiz or General Knowledge Paper (GKP) given to students (and parents) at King William’s College on the Isle of Man. In another article on, “The Story of the King Wiliams’s College Quiz” quizmaster Dr Pat Cullen discusses the impact of the Internet on the 106 year old quiz and attempts to Google and social media proof the quiz to keep it intellectually challenging. MacLean’s Canada article on the history of the quiz is simply titled, “The World’s Most Difficult Quiz. Really.”
While only section 2 relates specifically to geography and cartography, I estimated that about 70 of the 180 questions could be considered geo-spatial. These range from questions such as, “4 Who first used continuous and broken lines to indicate fenced and unfenced roads?” to 5 Where did close neighbours claim the invention of a device for observing at a distance? The answers to last year’s questions were posted in February, so you will have to wait a while if you get stumped.
The quizmaster Dr. Pat Cullen doesn’t live in a dusty library tower, he is also a birder and citizen scientist for the Isle of Man which is home to several rare species of birds.
There are many sources for New Year’s interactive maps for 2012. The Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Education site has an interactive map and social studies quiz on “Celebrating New Year’s Around the World: Understanding Time Zones“. If you get stuck on the answers, point flags pop up on the map with additional information. Maps of the World has an interactive map that counts down the time to 2012 for each country. The BBC news online also has an interactive map which shows the most popular news stories for the day in real time. So far, New Year’s Eve Celebrations Start has remained the most popular in world traffic to the site. Last Year, Twitter posted an interactive map of Tweets on New Year’s Day calling it an “epic Tweet Day”. It will be interesting to see what 2012 holds.
It’s always fun to compare the modern marvels of yesterday to their technological equivalent today. I spent about an hour on Charles Shopsin’s blog ”Modern Mechanix: Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” reading all of the old geospatial related articles I could find. A short article from a issue of Popular Mechanics extols the convenience of a Dashboard Map that Holds a Roadmap from November 1950. Just like the GPS units today it plugs into a cigarette lighter socket. Unlike the Garmin Nuvi lighter socket mount, it probably cost a lot more than around $10.00.
In another article from the early 1950′s, the author creates a business building 3d models for industry and business such as scale models of factory lots and contour maps of real estate property. The support and criticism of 3d models is very similar to those still being argued about geospatial modeling today. From “Isn’t there some easier way of selling those mountain lots than driving prospects 90 miles to see them?” to “Build little models,” he scoffed, “and you’ll have an income about the same size.” There are articles from old National Geographic’s on The Earth as a Satellite Sees It (1960), Modern Mechanix’s on Amazing Robots speed Check of Nation (1930 Census), and advertisements in Scientific American for Texas Instruments micro processors for data loggers (1977).
It’s that time of year again in North America, Project Bird Feeder Watch for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. It is a great opportunity for an easy to do citizen science activity. Citizen scientists count the count the birds they see at their bird feeders. The data is used to map bird migration and bird populations. Because it comes with a kit to do the bird count, there is a $15.00 participation fee which supports the project. Project Bird Feeder Watch has been around for more than 25 years making its data extremely important. You can explore some of the data and maps on their site.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada along with the Audubon Society are also sponsors of the Great Backyard Bird Count which starts in February and is free for participants. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a list of other citizen science projects that people might be interested in doing such as urban bird count, pigeon count, and migratory birds. Bird Studies Canada has citizen science projects such as The Christmas Bird Count, Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, and the nocturnal owl survey. I think these would be fantastic school, family, or even team-building exercises that involve geospatial data and the local community.
If you are looking for some nice looking gifts for the geographer in your life that are wonderfully unique, look no further than the Steam Punk Emporium. What they call Brassy Bits: vintage looking compasses, sextants, telescopes, magnifying loupes, pocket sundials… I would call old fashioned geography and cartography tools. Most of them range in price from $5.00 to around $50.00 There are even some vintage looking geography and globe themed necklaces and pocket watches.
Grapheur is a new business intelligence and visualization tool that includes an easy to use geovisualization function. It has a free trial, but the software itself isn’t free. I was a little dubious at first at a software company that claims its software is “Sexy: Use space, time, color, shapes, blinking, sweeps, synchronization… for amazing results.” However, the amazing graphics it produces are in fact just that. Plus, most of those descriptors also describe geospatial science in general so who am I to complain?
They have a Doubting Thomas tab for people who are having trouble visualizing their data in the free trial. You can send them the data and they will do a free basic analysis and walk you through the steps. Their geovisualization capabilities aren’t as robust as ESRI or other GIS software but that might change if more people find it useful for geospatial work.
Kaggle is a website company that holds predictive modeling competitions for prize money. It’s premise is that there is a lot of data out there that needs to be analyzed and not enough skilled people to do it. They use crowd sourcing to attract smart competitors and interdisciplinary scientists from over 100 countries. Although they seem to have a math and statistics focus, many of their datasets are geospatial and could effectively be analyzed using geospatial approaches. This would be good for organizations with large geospatial datasets who want to host a competition through Kaggle’s Host-a-Competition wizard. You can also use Kaggle in the classroom . For example, a statistics class at Rice University used it to recommend jokes based on previously rated jokes.
A recent article in The Guardian, “Your Moons are Rubbish, Astronomer tells Christmas Card Artists“, by science Ian Sample was entertaining but also raised several serious scientific questions. Peter Barthel from the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands wrote an article for the journal Communicating Astronomy with The Public on astronomical realism in holiday cards. He found that many cards depicted the moon in ways that were not realistic for the time of night being portrayed. When asked “so what?”, he thinks that realism adds to instead of detracts from the wonder and “Moreover, understanding leads to knowledge which lasts”.
His remarks started me thinking about how geography is portrayed in greeting cards and what are the most common themes. The National Environmental Education Foundation has a good handout on the difference between the North Poles, the Antarctic, the Artic and how polar bears and penguins don’t live together in the same place. In order to conduct my own informal research, I went to Blue Mountain Cards and Hallmark Cards online to review all of their cards for geographic fallacies. I gave up after the first few pages because of the predominant lack of geography in the cards.