If Google Maps Were Real

Mashable (perhaps one of the cooler sites I visit each day) has a nifty story about an artist who drew Google Maps icons as if they existed in the real world.  It’s rather interesting to think about these big push pins existing in real life, or a pop-up box over a building.  Take away the surprised looking people and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of what large scale augmented reality is likely to look in the near future.

Episode 1 of the Geospatial Revolution Project is now out!

It’s a project we’ve been excited for ever since we first heard about it, and was great to be able to interview some of the Geospatial Revolution Project team, so it’s great to be able to post that Episode 1 is now live on the Geospatial Revolution Project website!

The full episode is jut over 13 minutes, but it’s also broken up into smaller videos via YouTube for those who can’t stream the whole thing. The team have also made the episode video shareable, so spread the word and to get you started, here’s Chapter 1 of Episode 1:

Urbagrams – Mapping the social city

In order to investigate the idea of a social archipelago, the notion that our cities are “fragmented islands of social activity separated by large areas dedicated to commercial workplaces, flows of vehicles, residential sprawl or industrial sites.” Anil Bawa Cavia analyzed more than a million Foursquare check-ins in a number of cities and mapped those data as points to create a series of social activity density maps, which he calls urbagrams. By looking at the resulting maps for cities such as New York, Paris, and London, we can get a picture of the spatial distribution of social activity through Foursquare, and see where social activity is clustered and how the patterns differ from city to city.

Via Gizmodo

Great video introduction to the National Map

One of the fun things I get to do in prepping for my classes is getting to look at all the amazing video resources out on the interwebs for Geography and geospatial technologies. While putting together my Intro to Mapping lecture, I remembered this great 6-minute video introduction to the National Map, including a little bit about the history of the USGS’s role in mapping the US, how digital technologies are changing mapping, and the development of the National Map and its functionality. Even if you saw the video when it came out back in January, it’s still a great reference for what the National Map is all about.

NASA Earth Science Hurricane Katrina retrospective

To mark the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating landfall in the Gulf Coast, NASA Earth Science has released this short video retrospective of some of the imagery and analyses that were used to track and visualize Hurricane Katrina

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!

Oostvaardersplassen – The Pleistocene is just a train ride away

Previously we’ve posted about Pleistocene Park, and a similar project in Scotland that are aimed at recreating the fauna and flora of the Pleistocene Era by setting aside protected areas that are kept ‘wild’. Oostvaardersplassen, a park in the Netherlands, has created a similar preserve, using Konik horses and Heck cattle to give a feel for similar, but extinct, Pleistocene herbivores like the tarpan and European bison and elk. The landscape is mostly open grasslands, with small copses of trees. Currently, the Oostvaardersplassen is an isolated nature preserve, but you can take a train ride that passes through the park, and there are plans to open a natural corridor to a forest area in Zeewolde.

There is some controversy over efforts like Oostvaardersplassen, including issues of whether to truly leave these areas to nature, even when harsh winters might kill significant portions of the wildlife in such parks or when animals become sick and injured. What do you think? Do preserves like Oostvaardersplassen and Pleistocene Park really give a us a chance to glimpse a vanished landscape?

Here’s a short video of Oostervaardersplassen that gives you a good idea of what the landscape and wild horse herds are like:

Via io9 and Ark in Space