Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Geographer's Valentine

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!

Project Bird Feeder Watch

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.

What people do with maps in the era of GPS and Web Maps

In the era of GPS and Web Mapping you might think that paper(physical, concrete things you hold in your hands) maps are on their way out. I don’t necessarily agree, paper maps are very useful when you’re away from our friend electricity and are certainly handy in emergencies.

Beyond that I’ve started to notice, perhaps a bit late, that paper maps have started to take on another life as a creative medium. A few post’s back I highlighted AxisMaps where the maps were transformed into a piece of art. And if you leave the house more often than I do, you’ve probably noticed the topographic map stationary sets. Today I found another unique use of maps at CityFabric, where metropolitan areas are screen printed onto tote bags and t-shirts, complete with a pin to highlight a favorite location.

I know there are a lot of neat geographic themed gifts out there, but I think I’d like to hear from our readers and listeners if they have seen, heard, witnessed any novel uses of geographic data (not just gifts or nick-knacks).  I mean it. Find some really weird or unique use of geographic data and send a photo or link in and I’ll compile a post of all the neat stuff you find!


Conserving the Night Sky

Is your portion of the night sky polluted by artificial light?  Check out this really slick Google Map interface I found on the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) web site .  For over 22 years, the IDA has been advocating to keep our night sky clean of light pollution.  Their reasons go beyond astronomy purposes and have provided resources for legislation that would both reduce night sky lighting and provide very large amounts of energy savings to the global economy.

Find A Dark Spot Tonight
Click on the image to go directly to map viewer

Data for the map comes from the NGDC, where you can find some links to more interactive maps and other imagery services.


Holiday Gift Idea for Your Favorite Cartographer – Typographic Topography

Axis Maps presents a series of maps where all of the features, be they roads, rivers, rails, etc… are converted to text. At a distance it appears to be a “normal” map but on closer inspection the features are really linear iterations of the features name.  Click the image below or the link at the beginning to check them out for yourself.

If you have a carto-fan in your life, this would make a great holiday gift!

9 Nerdy Film Locations You Need To Visit

I love lists like this – combining space and nerdy things is one of my favorite things in the world! So check out Wired’s 9 Nerdy Film Locations You Need to Visit in Your Lifetime. It covers everything from Star Wars, to Lord of the Rings, to 12 Monkeys. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recognize the location right away. You’ll rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles getting to them because they’re all over the globe, from Latin America to New Zealand. One of them is located in New York (Number 8 Hook and Ladder, featured in Ghostbusters), so I’m going to use AAG to mark at least one of them off my list 🙂

The Astounding Design of Eixample Barcelona

Sometimes I think we can forget how beautiful the human built environment can become. The All That Is Interesting Blog had an interesting piece last week on the Eixample district of Barcelona. This district was famously built in the early 20th century specifically with a grid layout and rounded street corners. The idea behind the corners is to allow for greater visibility and to ‘open up’ the design. As the site points out, the effect of the area is quite striking when taken as a whole, particularly in areal photo form. Perhaps more interesting is the human geography that has grown around this design. A simple wikipedia search shows this district to house a range of social and ethnic populations. The place was designed with the needs of the population located in each of it’s five neighborhoods. Markets, schools, and hospitals littered the neighborhoods and apparently many of the existing markets in the area have been there since the beginning. All in all, it’s an attractive built environment we can see and visit even today.

Halloween Maps

Halloween is a holiday that has often been associated with maps… treasure maps, spooky house plans, escape routes, and trick-or-treat routes. I think it is also the holiday with the most spatial app maps. Useful Halloween maps include the No Trick Treats interactive map to identify houses handing out treats for kids with dietary restrictions, The Patch sites such as RosevillePatch created a map of the best neighborhood Halloween decorations in Roseville, CA and Benicia to let visitors add to the map. I tried to make my own tree map using Many Eyes from IBM to determine Halloween candy with the most bang for my buck. Looking at it though, it is more of a surefire way to get our house toilet papered —- handing out one Hershey’s Kiss per Trick or Treater. … but more candy for me after Halloween . 

Get your free (zombie) preparedness guide

You have probably already heard about the U.S. Center For Disease Control’s unique outreach effort to educate the public about being prepared for a large scale emergency. They used the public’s interest in zombie movies like Zombieland and books like World War Z to create a zombie comic based on actual preparedness training. The Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic comic was unveiled at last weeks NYC Comicon and is free for download according to the ComicsAlliance who provide a link to the site. CDC scientists in the comic are shown using many geospatial and GIS tools to handle the zombie threat to public health.

The CDC is not the only institution using comics to get across their message. The Smithsonian recently create several Women in Science comics available on their Women in Science Working Wonders Website (Try to say that three times fast). They have a quiz to discover what type of scientific superheroine you are that includes many scientists who use geospatial technologies in their line of research. Maybe the American Association of Geographers (AAG) should create a similar comic book series with a quiz about what type of geographer are you?