Gizmodo has a pretty cool post about MIT’s Word’s Eyes Project. The idea behind the project is to look at the world through the photos posted on Flickr. What they’re trying to capture are the ways we – mostly as tourists – capture the world around us. Of course there are lots of projects and products out there to do this sort of thing, but I’m attracted to the rather “unauthorized” nature of this project. In some ways, it seems like those that put their pictures up for purposes other than documenting a place might, completely inadvertantly, show us things about that place we might otherwise miss.
Ars Technica has a nice discussion about nuclear power discussions that took place at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago. The short of it is that several prominate scientists are arguing that nuclear power has a place in our future power needs. Coming from a coal state, I’ve often wondered about which is the lesser of two evils – nuclear power or coal energy. I’m certain strong and informed opinions can be made both in the pro and con column for each technology. What I believe this strongly underscores is the notion that we will most likely use a mix of technologies to power ourselves in the future.
The New York Times has a nice interactive map (flash based) of unemployement rates by county. It shows that areas with housing booms, lots of manufacturing, and high existing unemployment got hit the hardest this last year, which isn’t a huge suprise. However, you can use the map to see some regionalization to this stuff.
If you’ve been curious as to exactly how bad a problem this foreclosure business has become, perhaps this heat map might give you an idea of the severity and location. It’s published by RealityTrac and gives a good indication of county by county level data. However, sometime more interactive might be nice. Well, if you live in California, Foreclosure Radar provides a Google Map interface, but you have to subscribe to do anything useful. The USAToday published an interactive map of the Denver area to give an idea of how hard certain areas were hit. I hope we’ll see more and more of this type of mapping thing in the coming months, as this stuff if perfect for geographic analysis. Understanding the underlying geography to these massive housing failures might help us understand who to target to help mitigate some of these effects on certain areas.
Hot Hardware (a most excellent computer/techie site, by the way) is reporting an interesting proposition by the Governor of Oregon. Apparently Oregon is having a bit of financial difficulty, what with all the people trying to save on gas and the associated decline in gas tax revenues. Governor Kulongoski’s proposal is fairly simple – let’s tax based upon how many miles driven rather than how many gallons of gas purchased. It’s not a new idea per se, but it’s a new application of technology to help with the idea. The notion is to fit cars with GPS units which record the number of miles traveled since the last fill-up. When you go to the gas station, a reader will automatically read the number of miles, calculate the tax, and add the appropriate amount to your bill. This won’t replace the gas tax – at least not at first – because it will take some time to fit all the cars in Oregon with the necessary equipment. As the article points out, the idea is just something the Governor is suggesting. It’s up to the legislature to make it happen.
It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure tax payers are going to get on board. You also have to wonder about the people traveling from other states and are unlikely to have the GPS system installed. It will get people to focus on driving less distance (as opposed to consuming less gas), which would seem to be counter to environmental concerns. All in all, it is a pretty radical experiment. We’ll have to keep watch to see if its ultimately implemented.
Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winning economist, has predicted the end of the US auto industry. Although this has been widely reported elsewhere, I think it’s interesting to note the reason Krugman quotes: “It will do so because of the geographical forces that me and my colleagues have discussed…” So if anyone gives you flak for geography, tell’em geography matters. Nobel prize winners say so!
UPDATE – Apparently there was a misquote at Huffington Post, but the geography parts are still important
I just saw last night that the Census Bureau is gearing up the hiring process for workers here in West Virginia, and I am sure the process is also starting up in other states as well. There will be several waves of hiring, from office workers and support staff, to the actual census takers. Hiring for workers at the state and local level is done through regional offices, and you can find the list at the Census Bureau’s website here. There are a number of jobs for Geographers and Cartographers, and GIS people. They’re usually only for a year or two, but are great experience. So, if you are out there on the job market, or will be soon, you should definitely check out the Jobs At Census website!
Ars Technica has a pretty nice summary article on a few crime mapping and mashup sites around the web. We’ve reported one or two of these in the past, but there are a few I hadn’t heard about. It’s interesting to see Toronto releasing all if its homicide information on the web for all to see. It isn’t real accessible for sucking up into a subsequent mashup, but it would be interesting to see someone do the translation. London did a better job this summer by going ahead and linking crime data to the map. This type of stuff is full of potential for participatory GIS type work and more responsive government. If anyone know of any others like this (crime or otherwise), please make note in the comments, as its a particular interest of mine!
Scientists have figured out how to predict cholera outbreaks by looking at sea life. The idea pioneered at the University of Maryland is a rise in sea temperatures lead to the production of Phytoplankton, which are the root cause of cholera. As these phytoplankton get into the water supply, cholera pathogens are released and can lead to outbreaks. Obviously fore warned is fore armed, so this is will certainly help public health officials cope with these devastating outbreaks.
Via BBC News
You may remember back to our earliest episodes of VerySpatial TV where we each took part in the Genographic project and talked about our results. We may (or may not) have mentioned that the “Out of Africa” theory has been the predominate view for our (humans or Homo sapiens sapiens) distribution around the globe. Apparently researchers have found evidence that the route assumed by most researchers may not have been the only route through northern Africa, but there have been waterways that existed 100,000 years ago that have left channels in the bedrock under the Sahara. Early humans could have taken advantage of these waterways, which would have of course provided not only water, but would have been surrounded by vegetation and would have attracted game animals.
Stories like this always excite me as they connect my two degree areas of Anthropology and Geography. Be sure to check out the BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | ‘New pathway’ for African exodus article to read more