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.
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
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.
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.
Today is GIS Day and it is making headlines in major newspapers around the globe. While some mainstream media sources are celebrating GIS Day by name, others are participating in spirit by having spatial news articles like the The New York Times, a newspaper of record, article on Mapping Bitcoin from November 19, 2013. But the GIS news that will make you feel warm-hearted are the regional newspapers, whose coverage is more reflective about GIS, their community, and the impact it has had on their lives. It is a true celebration of GIS Day.
The Milwaukee -Wisconsin Sentinal has an in-depth article on “Mapping the possibilities with GIS technology” that focuses on GIS in Wisconsin. The Jamaica Observer’s article states that finds that the “Gov’t wants more professionals to use GIS” The Austin Statesmen draws the community in by stating that “ GIS Day brings practical examples of geographic technology: Public-based technology used daily” While, The Salisbury Post more succinctly puts it, “Pothole? Broken street light? Report them using your phone, GIS“. Some towns such as Culpeper, even used the upcoming GIS Day opportunity to announce that their “Town launches new GIS system”
The Chattanoogan.com Business section combined two great events in one, announcing that, “Connected Tennessee Releases New Broadband Availability Figures In Support Of GIS Day 2013“. In Pennsylvania, the Governor proclaimed Nov. 20 as GIS Day, while “Local High School Students Learn About High-Tech Careers at ‘GIS Day’” including the text of Governor Corbett’s proclamation in the PENNSlyvania News & Buzz.
The future of GIS And teaching children is often the focus of GIS Day news coverage. The Caller.com highlighted GIS DAY in their Corpus Christi Photos round up with one symbolic photo of a young person, while the Killen Daily Herald states that not only did, “1,300 area sixth graders attend GIS Day” but the event is so big that “For more on GIS Day read tomorrow’s Killeen Daily Herald.”!
I will update this post throughout the day as GIS Day articles are posted online, keeping an eye on places such as the Winter Haven Library that will be holding a GIS Exhibit for the public on Thursday. Please send in your own local news.
In the world of advertising and marketing, it is fairly easy to guess that if something starts to show up on deal sites and clearance sections that it has either A. gone mainstream or B. jumped the shark and is no longer “cool”. Either way, this is good news for geocaching which has shown up in some fairly mainstream places lately.
Todays, Woot megadeal site has an entertaining video, Mortimer’s Adventures in Geocaching, to sell geocaching items on sale that features their mascot, Mortimer. Statements like “Geocaching is like a real life treasure hunt you can go on almost anywhere there is a steady population of nerds” might indicate that the Woot Seattle office has some veteran geocachers in the office. However, finding cool Lego figurines might just be a geocacher’s dream item. Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting in-depth report on Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy and an interactive map of the status of cleanup by state. While they call the interactive map an “interactive database” in their document on The Journal’s Methodology, it is good to see such in-depth meta-data and open methodology being used by a news site. They discuss where they found their data, how they used it, and missing data.
The Waste Lands project is also a venture into citizen science and digital humanities because, “Now that this database has been released to the public, the Journal welcomes additional information on these sites from the public. Send relevant tips, photographs, and documents to email@example.com”
Other than not using the words spatial, geospatial, geography, or spatial database anywhere in the project, it is an excellent example of how interactive maps can be a part of the investigative journalism process and not just a visual that draws the eye to an article.
The Switch writer, Caitlin Dewey, reviewed a recent study on Twitter in her article on “Where do Twitter trends start? Try Cincinnati” for the Washington Post. It summarizes a study done at Indiana University on where Twitter topics trend and spread. It found that Twitter trends that start in Cincinnati tend to spread out and reach other cities more than would have been thought for a city of that size. It concluded that physical geography has an impact on social media, which is often popularly thought of as transcending geographic location, by everyone but geographers and geospatial scientists – or do they? It turns out that The Geography of Twitter is a trending topic itself in the research world. Continue reading
This past week, Democrat Natalie Tennant announced her run for Senate and it was covered by the Washington Post, “Natalie Tennant Officially Launches Senate Campaign in West Virginia“. However, the big news wasn’t her political platform, but rather the fact that her campaign video uses stock footage of a college campus – not West Virginia University, where she attended college, or another WV institute of higher learner but that of college rival, University of Pittsburgh. Twitter feeds in West Virginia lit up as people, who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. Republican campaigners were quick to take to Twitter to denounce the mistake, but many did so by referencing The University of West Virginia or other variations that were not the correct place name of West Virginia University. A repeat of the cycle happened, Twitter feeds lit up again, as people who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. After a day or two the whole thing died down and has mostly been forgotten.
As geo-spatial professionals, who sometimes work on projects outside the scope of our specific local knowledge, we can probably all sympathize with both mistakes – not choosing stock photos wisely and not double checking specific place names. However, as this incident and other incidents like it illustrate, it is often important to weigh the cost of double checking meta-data, when available, versus the cost of having to deal with the fallout if anyone notices a discrepancy that is important to them because they know the area very well.
To quote, former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local”, which makes meta-data a politically charged issue that needs to be carefully considered when trying to reach the public.
The BBC News Science & Environment section has an article on “The Secret Life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?” with an interactive map of cats in a Surrey Village. It was created by BBC Two’s Horizon Program and researchers at the Royal Veterinary College. It is based on a study by Dr. Alan Wilson, an animal movement specialist, at the Structure & Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College. In his article, “Secret Life of the Cat: The Science of Tracking Our Pets“, he provides information on the technical challenges of using GPS to track domestic cats. Like many scientists working in the field, Dr. Wilson has had to develop his own tracking equipment in order to study the movement of pigeons, sheep, cheetahs, wild dogs, and of course, cats. He is currently working on developing unmanned arial vehicles for remote sensing and movement tracking. Cats are a great way to introduce the public to interactive mapping, tracking, and geospatial concepts because cats and birds are the most popular pets in the world.
The combination of cat popularity and GPS even resulted in a best selling book, “Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology” about a writer’s determination to find out what her cat did when he went off into the “wild”. CNET has a good video, “Using GPS to Track Exactly Where Cats Creep“, about how the authors learned to track Tibi. The convoluted way they had to map his tracks illustrates the need for education on using GIS or an easy to use cat GIS, to go along with the easy to use cat tracking GPS market.