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 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 .
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?
I’m thrilled with any post that allows me to make a The Police reference. Harold Hackett has a rather unusual hobby – he puts messages in a bottle and throws them into the sea. If you’re thinking this is a big waste of time, you’d be wrong. He’s put out 4,800 messages and has gotten back over 3,000 messages for his efforts. I’ll bet your response ratio on your latest email invite or forum post wasn’t as good He sends out his address, which forces people to respond to him old school via mail. He’s gotten letters literally from Africa, Russia, Holland, Norway, the Bahamas, and a host of other (mostly European) countries. Harold has been doing this since 1996. His weapons of choice? Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice or Orange Juice bottles because they’re bright and presumably yummy. Plus the pun, of course. His messages have taken upwards of 13 years to bear fruit. He’s made a lot of friends doing this and still gets gifts and cards years later.
Some critics say the online mapping tools and free mapping tools are like chasing a moving target. Well, warm up your running shoes and pack extra arrows in your quiver, because the latest version of ArcGIS Explorer Online is worth the effort to chase it down!
Those of you who have been involved with the effort to integrate geospatial technology (GIS, GPS & Remote Sensing) into the classroom environment for the last 10 years or so know we’ve been through many changes in terms of viable solutions. Didn’t you love ArcVoyager and it’s prescribed modules…so nice, and then AEJEE with it’s closer-to-the-real-thing features. We began to embrace ArcGIS Explorer (now ArcGIS Explorer Desktop) virtual globe with it’s improving features. As new tools came along, old ones die away…rules change. The pursuit could be frustrating or invigorating depending on your tendency towards a glass half-full or half-empty mentality. As things changed, you had to remember that these tools weren’t always built with educators and classrooms in mind, rather designed for business, industry and the general public. The creative educators were utilizing the cools tools. Well, the game is changing again. Gone are the concerns for whether you have a Mac or a PC! (cue those hilarious commercials http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5z0Ia5jDt4) Run it all in your internet browser! Woohoo!
So what’s possible? Queries and shapefiles and map notes…oh my!
I’ve created some examples and posted a collection of links to maps and data that are residing in my account space (for free) at arcgis.com. http://www.barbareeduke.com/mymaps There are samples of old lessons that are still on my website and in ArcLessons as well as some new ones, such as T.S. Spivet and Plessy v. Ferguson.
I think the real treasure in these tools is more flexibility. As an educator, I can create the beginnings of a map and prompt students with the expected handouts; then, my students access that map, add more data and analysis to it AND…(drum roll, please) create a presentation using the built-in presentation features to assess their knowledge, thinking and communication skills. We’re teaching many more skills than GIS with this tool and its features. We expose students to course content, subject analysis, directed research, critical thinking, problem solving, story telling, persuasive writing and public speaking. I challenge you to find me a tool that does all of that…in a web browser!
There are great tips and information at the Esri blogs for each product. Also the Esri Education Team’s blog has great educational insights and some step-by-step entries on using the tools as well as implementing the tools.
Check out the blogs:
Esri Education Community
ArcGIS Explorer Desktop
ArcGIS Explorer Online
Thank you to Bernie Szukalski & the Esri team for bringing us a great set of tools!
The Globe and Mail has an interesting Vox article on investing in Zynga, which has created free online social media games such as Farmville on Facebook versus other social media applications. It hearkens me back to the Internet investment boom of the 1990′s when investors took the first steps and risks to invest in new online companies such as Amazon. The title is accurately, “Zynga’s virtual items may turn into real cash for investors“. Market Watch by the Wall Street Journal has an article, “How to invest in the social-networking IPO boom: What to know about Groupon, Twitter and Wall Street’s next tech craze” which further explores the question if the tech world is setting itself up for another bubble with social media apps. It will be interesting to see what happens as more and more apps reach broader audiences.
On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows. While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes. What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war. The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.
Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad. The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South. Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!
Throughout history, cicada and locusts have produced fascination, food, and frustration, among other f words. The Cicada Mania site “Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.” provides TONS of information on cicadas. Other calls for citizen scientists include those of University of Georgia, Dept. of Entomology, asking for pictures and locations of cicadas and shed cicada skins. Their call recommends that parents participate with their young children because their children will not see this amazing event again until they are adults.
Many countries have set up citizen science watches to keep tabs on what is happening this year. According to a Charlotte news report, the 14 state Cicada Watch citizen science project had hundreds of volunteers in Mechlenberg County, NC alone this year. Other watch projects across take place across the globe. The Australian Government of Agriculture,Fisheries, and Forestry has an up to date section for “Current Locust Situation and News“. The Desert Locust Watch is produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for desert regions such as the Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia,
One of the most fascinating aspects of how the media is covering the upcoming U.K. Royal Wedding, is the use of geospatial tools, social media, and almost every bell and whistle they can think up to build interest and momentum in the event. It is a good contrast to the way huge media coverage was done for previous royal weddings and shows how much geospatial technologies and public participation have become embedded in the media. I can’t think of a recent news story that has used so many multiple sources of new geospatial technology to cover one event. Although I suspect the next presidential election might come close.
CNN’s press room states that “CNN’s global coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will uniquely incorporate Facebook, Twitter and iReport, the network’s global participatory news community, into its television programming. These on-air integrations will enable consumers to share in the experience with their family and friends in real-time, as well as contribute first-person perspectives on the day’s events – all while witnessing the biggest royal wedding event since Charles married Diana.” While the Royal Channel, the official channel of the British Monarchy provides an interactive procession route map and live video among other coverage. According to Tweetings.com, several official royal wedding tweeters will include Prince Harry and royal staffers.
There have been a number of posts today about the fact that the iPhone is storing cell tower connections in its backups and that you can get access to that data using the iPhone Tracker app (for Mac). The image here shows my trip last week to Seattle. Since I am generally streaming my location on Latitude or checking on Whrrl (though that is another issue with their purchase by Groupon), the fact that phone is saving tower data is not terribly bothersome to me. The fact that someone would have to have access to my computer to get to my phones backup data means it is more secure than any of the cloud services that we use (as long as I stay away from the hackers. I, for one, plan to take advantage of this security flaw for my own entertainment purposes.