With South Sudan becoming independent, and the first new country in a while, there are a lot of questions coming up. We will leave the commentary to the talking heads but we are curious about your general thoughts on what is happening, and more importantly what will happen in the future, as South Sudan separates from Sudan. Head over to the website and take the poll over on the right hand side of the page.
On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows. While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes. What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war. The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.
Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad. The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South. Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!
I’ve been fortunate enough to look over the shoulders of a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The project titled “On The Line” is an online, interactive history of schooling, housing and civil rights in the city of Hartford, Connecticut that was created by Jack Dougherty of Trinity College. What makes this online text ‘spatial’ is the series of interactive Google Maps linked to historical redlining documents, as well as view historical photos in Historypin, and examine historical data in linked map viewers.
The site also provides a series of excellent lesson plans ready for educators to use in the classroom.
Some transportation engineers at NS State University have published a new study that shows left turns aren’t needed. We can create what are called “superstreets” that allow only right hand turns. This improves both travel times and safety, not to mention fuel economy. This isn’t exactly a new idea. Michigan already has this type of system (hence the “Michigan left” nickname) and it seems to invoke a love/hate relationship with drivers. UPS implemented a virtual system of no left turns years ago to save fuel and increase safety. There are a couple of things left out of the news reports on this, however. A system like this would take more land for roads, not less. Also, crossing 2-3 lanes of traffic to get to the U-turn can be problematic, I’d imagine, especially in rush hour. I’d also imagine the British would suggest this problem can be fixed with a good old ’round about’, although they’ve not really caught on in the US.
What do you guys think? Should left turns be a thing of the past we tell our grandkids about, like Atari and TV tubes, or do left turns make the most sense if you’re going left?
Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking. First, because it’s obviously beautiful. Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide. The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends. The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs. It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth. However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places. China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population. It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it. Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?
Any of our long-time readers/listeners can tell you I’m a HUGE fan of offshore windfarms. I think they flat out just make the most sense for sustainable energy production. Apparently Google agrees with me. Google is funding a windfarm that is supposed to stretch from New Jersey to Virginia and generate enough power to light two million homes. They put up a bit over 1/3 the costs, but the article doesn’t say where the other 2/3rds of the money is coming. The power will be transmitted onshore via underwater cables. No word as of yet when it will go live.
OSPAR Commission has released a map showing the known locations where munitions where dumped following World War’s I and II. The way of thinking at the time was the safest way to get rid of all of those unexploded bombs, grenades, land mines, and whatnot was to toss it in the sea. The status report details the dangers present to current populations, especially fishermen. It’s a problem we don’t think about that often because it’s something that happened nearly between 60 to 95 years ago, but it still presents a very real danger.
The Atlantic Wire has a short piece about a series of maps by Eric Fischer detailing racial living in 40 of the largest US cities. Unfortunately the maps are stored on Flickr as flat files, so it’s hard to zoom in and around to see more detail. The basic method appears to get racial information down to the housing unit so it creates a point cloud of race within urban areas. The interesting point of this method is that most cities aren’t hard delineations of race but a much more interspersed picture, despite the example from Detroit The Atlantic Wire uses.
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
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.