Virtual Hiking and the C5 Landscape Initiative

Posted on Posted in Human Geography, Navigation, VirtualEnvironments

As many of you know, GIS analysis is based on the notion that alorithms within the computer can be used to analyze the digital representations of real-world physical features such as topography that are stored in the GIS. An example of an algorithm-based analysis would be a Least Cost Path, which analyzes the elevation values between two points and calculates the path between them that would require the least cost to traverse. The cost can be defined in any number of ways. The C5 Landscape Initiative is a series of projects that explore using GIS to represent different conceptions of the landscape as we move through it. One of their GIS-related projects, which incorporates virtual hiking, is called The Other Path. They trekked the Great Wall of China and mapping it using GPS, then returned to California and used various techniques to map out a path in a virtual California landscape using a virtual hiker, “an algorithm that produces computationally derived paths from data in such a way that allows them to be re-followed through the actual world.” The analysis created a virtual path in California that matched the path of the Great Wall in China. Then, they physically hiked the path to compare the experience. It’s pretty amazing stuff and only one of their projects. They have also created the C5 Landscape Database, which has an open-source API for Digital Elevation Model processing and analysis.

Send us your “Best of 2005” pick

Posted on Posted in General

Episode 23 will be a year end round up of 2005 and a pick into 2006. We would like to include your perspectives on any local or regional Geography or geospatial news that you think is worthy of being included that we may have missed. Please include a link to more information on the topic if possible.

If you have a topic email us at the podcast address or call and leave a message on our voice mail (304-756-8125 or Skype:jesse-veryspatial)or record a 1-2 minute overview in mp3 format and send it to us via email.

Deadline for content is Thursday, Dec 22.

ColorBrewer Intro – Selecting Good Color Schemes for Maps

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Cartography

One of our listeners, Jody, emailed us a link to ColorBrewer, an online tool to help people select color schemes for maps. It uses a flash-based map to demonstrate how changing colors affects the look of a map and how that impacts the information being represented. It’s a nice tool to give a user an introduction to choosing colors for maps, so they can immediately see the visual impact of their choices. Cynthia Brewer, the Penn State geographer who designed the ColorBrewer, has also written the book Designing Better Maps: a Guide for GIS users.

World Population Cartogram

Posted on Posted in Cartography

A cartogram is a map that distorts geographic boundaries based on different values of a variable. So, if smaller areas have higher values, they will be deliberately distorted to look bigger. Here is an example of the world map distorted based on population. It was done by ODT, Inc. which produces alternate views of map, such as world maps with South on the top or the Pacific Ocean in the center.

Via BoingBoing

New version of Yahoo Widgets

Posted on Posted in WebMapping

The new version of Yahoo! Widgets (formerly Konfabulator) now includes quite a few Yahoo! centric tools including a Yahoo! Maps widget. After I heard about the new version on SpatiallyAdjusted I checked to make sure that the WebMap Widget we posted a couple of months ago still works, and all is well.

For those of you who weren’t reading back then, the WebMap Widget allows you to view OGC compliant WebMapServices and search by address. We included a couple of default sites but the real utility of the widget is for you to use your own WMS site (ie raid Mapdex).

To learn more and download the WebMap Widget

To download Yahoo! Widget Engine

BBC NEWS | Virtual tour of Africa’s heritage

Posted on Posted in General, Human Geography, VirtualEnvironments

The BBC has an interesting article on the scanning and modeling of heritage sites in Africa. This is along the same lines as some of the work that Sue and I have worked on here in the US and are starting to work on in Japan (now if we can just talk someone to sending us to Japan on their dime 🙂 ). Much of the work to date has not contextualized the individual structures in their landscape which is what we are trying to push in the presentations we have been involved in with Trevor Harris, our committee chair.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Virtual tour of Africa’s heritage

NASA’s Aura Satellite Mission

Posted on Posted in Physical Geography, Remote Sensing

Although Landsat is NASA’s most well-known satellite program, other missions are providing a wealth of information about our Earth. Aura, a satellite which was launched July 15, 2004, collects data that are used for studying the composition, chemistry and dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere, including ozone levels, air quality, and climate. At the recent American Geophysical Union conference, maps based on Aura data were presented showing the levels of Nitrogen Oxide (a precursor to ozone formation) in the eastern US.

NASA’s Aura mission website and Earth Observing System website

Via Chemical & Engineering News