GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine

Take the way back machine to the first GIS Day in Spring of 1999. ESRI ARC News Online announced GIS Day 1999 Slated for November!  According to the press release, ESRI told users to “Get ready to learn more about GIS and geography. The National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers (AAG), and Esri are announcing the first annual GIS Day to be held November 19, 1999–the Friday of Geography Awareness Week (November 14-20, 1999)”.  According to Jack Dangermond, “The idea behind GIS Day is to create a single, worldwide event that effectively communicates the benefits and significance of GIS to the rest of society. There are about half a million GIS users in the world, but most of the public is unaware of this growing technology.”  It is difficult to comprehend that in the span of a little more than short years since that inaugural GIS Day, the world has experienced what Penn State calls the geospatial revolution significantly impacting the number of GIS users worldwide. Continue reading “GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine”

Maps and U.S. (Mid-Term) Elections

Each year the number of media sources using interactive election maps increases, from search engines like Bing Elections to newspapers of record like the New York Times Elections 2014, to public television like PBS.org, or media like USA Today. Even Facebook has added an ‘I voted‘ button. Some are created in-house using geospatial software like ESRI GIS for Elections and Redistricting, others use mapping software like Google Maps, but interactive election maps are so important to election news reporting there is a market for companies like InstantAtlas, Axismaps, and others to sell election results reporting tools.  In 2012, Visual.ly provided a critique of Eight Different Takes on Presidential Election Maps, which remains relevant to the U.S. 2014 mid-term elections.

However, an Electoral College Map Activity from Colonial Williamsburg for the election of 1800, 270 to Win’s historic presidential election maps, and a project on A New Commonwealth Votes: Using GIS to Analyze the Politics of Turn of the Century Massachusetts demonstrate that mapping and GIS are engaging no matter the time period or the election. Although it is nice to see an elected officials office littered with maps whether they be on multiple monitors or strewn around the office as In Jefferson’s Cabinet, 1803.

jefferson

NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle

NASA has posted two news items that illustrate the large amounts of data that they are generating. NASA| The Data Downpour is a  video describing how the GPM constellation turns observed radiances and reflectivities of global precipitation – falling snow and rain – into data products.  They detail this huge task in “GPM Mission’s How-to Guide for Making Global Rain Maps“. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterPrecipitation Processing System (Greenbelt, Maryland)  is tasked with compiling remote sensing data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.  The  data set will eventually become one unified global data set.  A simplified version of a very exacting process, as any geospatial professional will tell you. Continue reading “NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle”

Participate in a cartographic art project: Tweeting the NYCTA Graphics Standards

Massimo Vignelli continues to inspire cartographers, graphic designers, and artists with his New York City Transit Authority map standards. Artists, Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed, and Hamish Smyth found a first edition Graphic Standard Manual designed by Vignelli in a locker beneath some old gym clothes.  According to an article in designTAXI, “Massimo Vignelli’s NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual Tweeted Page-By-Page“, the “The Standards Manual” project started on August 11 asks people to share the Standards Manual on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

It sounds like fun project and inspires its own question, “What other cartographic and geospatial manuals are gathering dust in old offices and on bookshelves that are worthy of being tweeted page-by-page?” standardsmanual

Nautical Miles: From Darwin to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The diaries from sea voyages are thrilling, especially those that study marine biology.  From the first entry setting down the base coordinates to later entries listing nautical miles traveled. Although they take place almost two hundred years apart,  two sea voyages  are available online this week, Darwin’s Beagle Library  from Darwin’s voyage (1831) and Clean Our Oceans Refuge Coalition (COORC)  Alguita Expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014).

Continue reading “Nautical Miles: From Darwin to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

When to Use an Interactive Map

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog article, “10 Maps that show how much time Americans spend grooming, eating, thinking, and praying”  presents some crisp maps using data from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey.   The article is an interesting introduction to regional geography, but it is  sometimes jarring to find a website presenting spatial information that lends itself to interactive mapping as analog maps. After spending a few seconds clicking and rolling over states before realizing the data I wanted was presented in a table at the end of the article, the analog maps raised the important cartographic question of when to use an interactive map.

Interactive maps have become such an ubiquitous method for visualizing complex spatial information that geospatial professionals sometimes don’t ask if an interactive maps is always the best one. An article in a 2013 Journal of Spatial Information Science by Robert E. Roth explores the question of “Interactive maps: What we know and what we need to know“. According to Roth, “Cartographic interaction is defined as the dialog between a human and map,mediated through a computing device, and is essential to the research into interactive cartography, geovisualization, and geovisual analytics”.

An article in Scientific America, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” asks How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? but it could also explain why we sometimes expect a static, analog map to be interactive.  

Calling all cartographers and map-lovers: A request for Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignellithe Italian graphic designer who created  the famous helvetica subway maps of New York City and Washington D.C, train stations in Italy, and other pared down cartographic designs,  is gravely ill.  Graphic design blogs such as   Quartz, Creative Review, and Gizmodo are forwarding on a request by his son, Luca,  Massimo Vignelli asking us to “Send a card to the man who put Helvetica on your subway map” A 2012 New York Times article, “The Subway Map that Rattled New Yorkers” describes the impact, controversy, and legacy that Vignelli’s System Map created,  when it was revealed in 1972.

Vignelli has strong connections to cartography and design, among them, a long time friendship with Richard Saul Wurman, another New York City guidebook designer,  whom he said was “on the cutting-edge side, where the fun is.”  The documentary Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli  describes the life and careers of  Vignelli and his wife, designer Lella. 

Please send your notes, letters, cards etc to:

Massimo Vignelli
130 East 67 Street
New York, New York 10021
USA

The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

Maps and Music are both powerful and together they can convey very complex emotions in a short span of time. The U.S. Library of Congress spent more than two years making “Songs of America“, a digital collection of over 80,000 curated recordings, sheet music, recordings and videos, interactive maps and more.  Their goal is to explore America’s history through the prism of song. While the actual interactive maps that help navigate Songs of America are useful, it is the the illustrated song recordings where maps appear naturally in the context of American life and song using the Library of Congress collection that make a powerful combination.

The Geospatial Community and Public Interest Declassification Board

The National Archives Blog, Transforming Classification: Blog of the Public Interest Declassification Board recently asked different listservs –  “What records should the US Government prioritize for declassification?” They took suggestions from historians and the public in five categories:  older records (25+ years), newer records (less than 25 years old), records relating to nuclear weapons policies (also called “FRD information”), records of general interest, and  records from the various US Presidential Libraries. Continue reading “The Geospatial Community and Public Interest Declassification Board”