Internship Experience: National Holocaust Museum

According to a 2013 poll of GIS professionals on GIS Lounge, half of the respondents held a GIS intership at the start of their career. Andrew Fomil is a good example of how geospatial professionals use interships to get started. A young GIS professional, he has worked at ESRI D.C. (paid internship), American Geophysical Union, and Thomson Reuters, but he got his start with an NSF GIS Internship at the National Holocaust Museum. He is currently a graduate student finishing his Geography/GISc Master’s Degree at West Virginia University which he hopes like many students, along with his work experience and portfolio, to qualify him for more advanced projects and GIS management. Here he answers some questions about his experience. Continue reading “Internship Experience: National Holocaust Museum”

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

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).

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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.  

UK Life Expectancy and Spatial Analysis

The UK Pensions Minister has proposed a plan that  estimates life expectancy based on such as home location. In a BBC article, “Pensioners Could Get Life Expectancy Guidance”  the Minister Steve Webb states that life expectancy planning based on data such as how long our grandparents lived is no longer a valid estimate tool. A review of articles in the BBC, Telegraph, The Mirror and  The Guardian reveal that none of the articles mention aggregated spatial data, location based data, or give  an indication of using classic spatial analysis, despite quotes such as ““My idea … is to say to somebody, ‘Look, someone of your generation, living in this part of the country, ……”  Continue reading “UK Life Expectancy and Spatial Analysis”

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.

Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here

As you shiver in the cold today during what The Weather Channel is predicting could be the coldest winter on record for decades in North America, reflect on the 1780 snowstorm that hit George Washington’s army at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ, now a National Park that commemorates the Continental Army’s winter encampment (December 1779 – June 1780). Here the soldiers survived the tail end of what historians and paleoclimatologists dub, “the little ice age”.   Continue reading “Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here”

The United States Railroad Administration

On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the U.S railroads from 1917 – 1920 in response to the infrastructure demands of WWI. While it only lasted four years, the nationalization and standardization needed for the war effort led to innovations in railway infrastructure and planning. Railways have always been closely tied with advances in cartography, mapping, and infrastructure.

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United Nation’s International Migrants Day and GIS

December 18th is the United Nation’s International Migrants Day to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.  Migrant workers and migration has had a natural fit with geography and geospatial approaches from historic analysis to today’s global world.  The UN is taking a geospatial approach to recognizing  International Migrants Day. They asked global citizens to participate by sharing photos and videos tied to their personal stories about how migrants positively contribute to communities and economies worldwide on Facebook and Twitter using #IAmAMigrant which were then featured on the UN’s Storify page. Storify by Livefyre is a free online tool that collects location based social media and videos from around the web into a unified story.

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