Month: December 2009
The Earth and Space Foundation has an awesome but low funded award program to “funds expeditions that either use Earth’s resources and environments to help us understand other worlds and assist in the exploration of space or expeditions that use space technology and data to help us understand and care for the Earth’s environment”. It brings up a fun discussion point that I have had with many geographers. Is there still a need for Earth expiditions? There must be because there is Expidition Quest, an online community of explorers and adventurers chock full of them. Plus I know several hardy and adventuresome people who have gone to Antartica as part of NSF antartic sciences. Which not many people know is open to any U.S. citizen.
Other questions we have discussed included, “You know they are going to need interstellar geospatial specialists to go into space, would you go? Would you still go if you knew you wouldn’t come back? Has the geospatial field progressed far enough to make this possible?” I am just waiting for the awesome movie to come out based on the first interstellar cartographers. You know someone always has to be first in uncharted territory. or is that going to be done by technology from now on? Interstellar studies is already an expanding field.
TreeHugger posted about the 300 Years of global climate change on one map. The best quote is “”In late 2009 the UK Government launched an Open Data initiative, headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, along with a call for innovations challenging the developer community to make this data more accessible. In response, Geo.me Solutions is showcasing a number of concept demonstrations using map-based visualisations.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventor of the World Wide Web.
Besides the fact that I haven’t shaved in 4 years, I think my best present EVER is still a fairly good likeness. You will definitely see an Avenue Q‘ish GeoEd episode in the future. Thanks Sue!
We are coming up quickly on CES (in early January) and as usual we are seeing a lot of preshow announcements as companies work to have their products noticed. The big thing this year seems to be the all mighty tablet. Inspired by ST:TNG, just like the cell phone is inspired by ST:TOS, tablets promise to alter the user experience a even further than we have already come with smartphones. We, of course, have full tablets that Microsoft and manufacturers gave us almost a decade ago that are full PCs, generally pen-based with a convertible or detachable keyboard. I’m a huge fan of these for the field, but their bulkiness and their price are limitations in many situations.
The new batch of tablets are smaller and priced just above that of the now ubiquitous netbook. There are basically three formats of tablets coming out: 1) the thin client that allows you to connect to the cloud to access your information, 2) ebook readers, and 3) media tablets. The next batch of tablets will be combining these capabilities most likely (joojoo/crunchpad, apple tablet, asus) but the limitation as I see it is the question of LBS capabilities in tablets. So far the models announced focus on content…which is definitely important and key to the usefulness of these devices…but they focus on the thin-client/cloud access aspect TOO much, leaving the location aware tech we have come to expect from our smartphones behind. While it is easy to argue that we have those capabilities in another device, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want the capabilities to be ubiquitous across devices. Sure, when we are in an urban area we can use wifi to get us generally close enough, but in places that haven’t been wifi mapped we have very poor accuracy if a position is possible at all. Also, jumping back to content, without a significant internet connection to access the cloud these things won’t even be useful as doorstops let alone the next greatest thing in computing.
I am excited about tablets, don’t get me wrong, I want to watch movies, read books, stream webcasts, and edit documents on one of these. I use my iPhone enough at this point that I can even see one replacing my laptop (eventually). But I also want to be able to do all of these things on a plane or in another country where I don’t have the ready (relatively inexpensive) access to the interwebs. I want to be able to run my favorite mapping app ON the device and make annotations on places when I am there, not when I get back to a connection.
In the end I want my future tablet to by light, small, inexpensiv(ish), and location aware. I want the ST:TNG tablet experience now, but without the tethering to the cloud that is inherent in that metaphor, ’cause our cloud just ain’t ready for that yet. What do you think about the promise or lack there of for the next gen tablet devices?
A couple of great competitions for innovative ideas and applications are going on right now, the GeoVation Ideas Challenge and GeoVation Awards Programme in the UK and New York City’s BigApps Competition, and you can participate! For the GeoVation Ideas Challenge (GeoVation was founded and is currently supported by the Ordnance Survey), you simply sign up at the GeoVation website, and submit a cool idea for using geography. If your idea is picked as one of the best, you can win a tour of the Ordnance Survey’s office in Southampton, UK. You can also participate by helping to rate the ideas submitted.
TV Tropes is a great wiki that catalogs all the tropes inherent in media, literature, and games. They have several geovisual subjects including television geography such as “Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke manage to get everywhere in Vienna, despite only spending only one night there.” They cover Hollywood Atlas or the stereotypical Hollywood geography and “You Fail Geography Forever” for truly egregious errors. I enjoyed “The Patchwork Map” which discusses fictional geography. The GIS version is “The Big Board” and the Ominous Multiple Screens “which is the villainous version. Usually. “
The data from NASA’s earth observation satellites are critical resources in many areas of research, and it’s important to highlight the achievements of the Earth Observation System program, a multi-national and multi-agency partnership including NASA, JPL, and JAXA. The goal of the EOS program has been to provide comprehensive data sets on Earth’s climate, land cover, clouds, oceans, atmospheric conditions and other variables to help researchers and scholars better understand our planet.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of NASA’s flagship EOS satellite, Terra, which carries ASTER, MISR, MODIS, MOPITT, and CERES sensors and continues to provide us with amazing data more than four years after its projected six-year mission.
The Terra mission website has a nice retrospective gallery of images from Terra’s first ten years, and here’s hoping it can keep providing us with great data for another ten years!