Library of Congress Experience Goes Live

The Library of Congress has just released a new feature called the Library of Congress Experience. The idea is to place digital collections of some of the Library’s original works online to allow the public a way to interact with the information. The Experience starts rather small, but it is noteworthy that they decided to include a heavy geographic Experience from the onset. Check out “Exploring the Early Americas”, which features “…the Library’s 1507 Waldseemüller map [the first to use the name “America”] with the cartographer’s 1516 Carta Marina in an interactive display enabling you to explore both maps and the knowledge they embody…”

New Poll, Old Poll

So today we start a new poll with the request “Pick your favorite name” as a way to get your perspective on what to call the spatial data that is being created by users as part of the Web 2.0 phenomena. The choices we give (which are not all inclusive) are:

  • Social mapping
  • Crowd source data
  • Volunteered Geographic Information
  • User generated data
  • Internet gunk
  • Continue reading “New Poll, Old Poll”

    Earth Hour – turning out the lights to help the planet

    Earth Hour is nearly upon us. On this Saturday evening, March 29th, at 8pm (your local time), you just turn your lights out for an hour. That’s it, that’s all you have to do. What you do during that hour is completely up to you, but you’ll be joining people and organizations from around the world who are participating in this event to raise awareness about global energy usage and climate change.

    Cities around the world like San Francisco, Phoenix, Toronto, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Bangkok, and Tel Aviv are participating, as well as other organizations and individual people. So, if you want to join in raising awareness about helping the planet, turn out your lights for Earth Hour 2008!

    Via Hippyshopper

    GeoPedia – National Geographic Magazine

    Apparently National Geographic Magazine has a new online support device in the form of the GeoPedia Wiki. The tag line is “the research behind the stories” and it seems to be a great idea to go beyond comments to encourage readers to participate in the magazine whether it is by suggesting a link, offering a pertinent question, or even offering an idea for a story. This definitely has the potential to create a more engaging experience for NGM readers and the denizens of the web.

    GeoPedia – National Geographic Magazine

    Library of Congress and Flickr team up to put photo collections online

    The Library of Congress is going Web 2.0 by making some of its photo collections available online at Flickr. This is a really cool project that not only allows users to see these amazing photos, but the LOC is also hoping that the Flickr community can help them out by tagging, commenting, and even provide captions or notes for photos that may be missing this information. Flickr is also promoting this project and perhaps others by creating a new publication model called The Commons for publicly held photographic collections. The hope is that other institutions will join in the effort and add their photos. What an amazing resource this has the potential to become!

    There are over 3000 photos already up in the LOC’s Flickr collection, including several series of photos from the 1940s and the 1910s. These photos are an amazing visual historical record that document the landscapes, lives, and events of American history from the local to national and events, and if you have some time you should definitely check them out and maybe even add your own tags and comments. And, if you know of any public photo collections that you would like to see online, spread the word about this project!

    Service at Sea – Fundraising contest

    Want to support Service at Sea? Want to visit Mexico? Anyone who donates to Service at Sea between February 2007 and January 31, 2008 will be entered for a chance to win a trip to Mexico. You get one entry for any donation up to $50 and an additional entry for every $50 after that (eg. $200 = 4 entries).

    Even if you aren’t up for Mexico, this is still a great project that is definitely worth the support if you can afford it.

    Fundraising and Donations – Service at Sea

    Uses of Geography

    Time to wrap it all up with Element 6: The Uses of Geography. That’s right it is the last day people and it is time to consider how we can apply Geography and spatial thinking to help us understand what has happened in the past, what is happening around us now, and how we can use that information to plan for the future.

    Standard 17 – How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Past, is the standard that is closest to my own background and the research that I work on. Historical Geography is a subdiscipline of Geography that focuses on understanding how people in the past created and modified the cultural landscapes around them, as well as identifying and interpreting the spatial aspects of historical events and processes. Within the last decade, a number of geographers and historians have begun to develop the subfield of Historical GIS, which utilizes GIS as a tool in understanding historical problems.

    However, Geography can also be a powerful conceptual framework for understanding the present, as Standard 18 – How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Present and Plan for the Future, is trying to highlight. Geographers work on problems and issues in a wide range of topics from urban planning, to social and community issues, to hazards research. In each case, understanding how people utilize and inhabit space and place, as well as understanding their interactions with the physical environment around them, helps us to develop interpretations of these processes. Taking these interpretations a step further, we can actually begin to develop long-range models and plans to help us meet future challenges, such as global warming, population pressures, pollution, and disaster planning.

    Hopefully you have taken some time to consider these 6 elements and 18 standards during this Geography Awareness Week. From our overviews and the materials available from National Geographic and the NCGE you hopefully have an idea of how these standards might impact Geography education in K-12 and beyond to college and university. They can not only support education but to create a better prepared geospatial workforce.

    Environment and Society

    Element 5: Environment and Society is tied to human-environment interaction and the first two standards are essentially mirror images.

    How Human Actions Modify the Physical Environment

    How Physical Systems Affect Human Systems

    16) The Changes That Occur in the Meaning, Use, Distribution, and Importance of Resources

    The goal of Standard 14 is to consider the impact of how we, the human species, affect, change, and/or modify the physical environment. Perhaps the most telling example of this impact is the increasing evidence that the planet is warming, and that warming is being accelerated by human processes and resource usage. Global warming became center stage when the Nobel committee recognized Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. However, global warming is only one example of how humans impact the physical environment around them every day. For example, water is one of the most vital resources on Earth, and human population pressures and pollution are seriously threatening people’s access to fresh water.

    Standard 15 is the mirror of 14 with a focus on how physical systems affect humans. One of the more obvious examples of this can be seen in natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, avalanches, etc). Beyond the extreme events of natural disasters, there are everyday examples of how physical processes impact the way we live our lives. To take the example of water again, access to fresh water plays a crucial role in where people can live. In fact, the combination of weather patterns over the last few years and increased consumption from rising populations has led to drought and conflicts over water in both the southeastern and southwestern United States.

    We close the day out with Standard 16, in which the role of natural resources is considered. To use our water example from above, the increasing populations in warm areas of the United States have magnified the importance of water as a valuable commodity due to its scarceness. However, in other areas of the world such as the monsoon areas of Southeast Asia, where the climate and weather patterns are different and rainfall is overabundant, water can actually be a hindrance to local human populations. It is important for students to recognize the importance in not only managing natural resources but also in understanding the differences in meaning, use, and distribution of those resources in different contexts.