Visualizing Average Days Worked and Vacation by Country

I’m a big fan of infographics, so much so that I sometimes find seeing spatial information organized in an non-spatial way (ie a map) to be the clearest way to communicate an idea.  This infographic detailing average work week lengths and average vacation days is one of the ones I think really works.  The combination of a typical ‘graph’ along with some cute graphics really makes the thing accessible.  The data does have some holes, I think, because the ‘average work week’ seems to pull down a tad.  I’m assuming part-time work is included.  It’d also be interesting to see an economic variable in there, like GDP or per capita income.  Does working harder and longer get your more money?  And I have to admit, for all my talk about infographics, the next question I have is I’d like to see it on a map 🙂

Research or Teach…that is the question

Apparently it has been a busy couple of days in the UK with the Business Secretary and Science Minister having a go at academic research spending and the shift over the last decade or two toward a research focus over teaching in universities. It is somewhat surprising that these direct statements haven’t been made before now given the economic climate. Even within academia you see the tensions between “research schools” and “teaching schools” and the implications of the monikers they carry. Your homework is to contemplate this tension that exists between funders, researchers, teachers, and students, and consider how this comes together to impact Geography. We will discuss our take(s) on this tension either in this week’s podcast or in a Special Episode next week. If you have a strong opinion feel free to call us and leave a voicemail or email us.

As a counterpoint, the BBC today posted a portion of a video conversation with Stephen Hawking supporting the role of research to society. Overall, evocative stuff!

Wedding Geography

Several crafty types have created homemade moving compass wedding invitations for their weddings including a heirloom quality one made of recycled chip board, a super fun interactive one posted on Crafster with a great compass related poem, and some artistic hand drawn maps and compass invitations by Pier Gustafson. On the basic logistics side, many wedding sites are offering free wedding mapper tools to create wedding directions on-line or to insert into invitations such as a cute one from WeddingMapper, MapIcons which lets your replace standard Google icons with wedding related ones, and custom wedding maps by Natalie Michelle on Etsy. Of course there are a number of GIS people who have proposed spatially including Cathy & Brian’s heart shaped Finger Lakes, Leslie and Michael’s Street View proposal, and Derek & Kristen’s Garmand GPS proposal. I don’t personally know any of these people but congratulate them and offer my own compass related quote, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery”.

Highway Engineers

In between class sessions on my first day as an Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina, I ran across this great comic from xkcd…and had to post it because I think the same thing every time I see painted traffic instruction on a road here in the US.

Light Bulbs to Get New Labels

The FTC is mandating that in 2011, light bulbs get new labels that emphasis luminosity more so that watts.  If you take a look at the labels shown at the link, it features quit a bit of new information to help buyers determine the best bulb for their needs.  The emphasis on lumens over watts is a good change, as it’s the actual measure of light instead of energy usage.  I personally like the “average yearly cost in electricity” of the bulbs.  From the example, I’m not sure $7.23 for a incandescent bulb will hurt many people’s wallet, but think how many light bulbs you have in your house.  The total can become a healthy chunk of change each month!

Don’t Go North, It Will Take Longer!

Or so people believe, studies show.  Wired News is reporting a couple of experimental studies that suggest people think “North” is a harder route to travel than “South”, even when moving in a fairly localized area.  The perception, apparently, is that North is uphill and South is downhill.  On trips to North Carolina, when I was a boy, my father would joke the trip back would take longer because it’s uphill all the way.  Apparently, his joke was more indicative of people’s perceptions than he knew.  Both of these studies use experimental situations.  It would be interesting to take real world travel information and see if people moving around in the real world actually behave the way the experiments suggest.  If you ask me, this says more about geography and spatial knowledge in the US than anything else.  It shows we need more spatial education!

Want Google’s Gigabit Network in Your Town?

Looks like you’ll have to get in line with the other 1,100 or so towns that have applied.  Apparently there is a LOT of demand for 1gb fibre network.  The map at the link shows the spatial distribution of the towns that applied.  It shouldn’t be any huge surprise that the coasts seem to have the most interest.  Either way, Google will pick a couple of winning towns by the end of the year.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if it hits my town, but the odds don’t look particularly great for anyplace.  For me, it shows how much desire we have in the US for faster and cheaper connections speeds m0re than anything else.

Via Engadget

Where’s Sindy

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.

Daylight Savings Time Uses More Energy

If you ask me, this should go into the “duh” file, but I’m glad someone did the numbers to prove it – Daylight Savings Time uses more energy.  Indiana recently changed their laws to require all the counties in the state to adopt DST.  In the past, 15 counties had opted out of the practice.  This change allowed researchers to setup a nice ‘controlled’ human experiment to see if DST actually saves energy.  Turns out, it’s a big fat waste of time.  As an active hater of DST (I don’t like it when everything is suddenly different one day to the next), I hope others verify these results so we can take’em to our legislatures in every state.  Yeah, DST made sense when Franklin first proposed it, but the modern world has pretty much killed it’s usefulness.