Month: January 2011


Gough Map of Britain:Linguistic Geographies research project

The interdisciplinary linguistic geographies research project funded by the Arts & Humanities Council (AHRC) conjures up all the “old school” components of geography as a romantic, intellectual discipline but with the addition of new technology. For the past year, a team of researchers with backgrounds in geography, cartography, history, paleograhics, and linguistics have been developing techniques to use “linguistic geographies” to better study maps of “unknown origin” , specifically the Gough Map.

The Gough Map is the oldest known geographic map showing the whole of Britain (c.1360) and is housed at the Bodleian Library. Despite being noted and visually represented in books, documentaries, and articles not much is actually known about the Gough Map’s origins. The researchers wanted to “learn more about the Gough Map, specifically, but more generally to contribute to ongoing intellectual debates about how maps can be read and interpreted; about how maps are created and disseminated across time and space; and about technologies of collating and representing geographical information in visual, cartographic form.”

A significant outcome of their project has been a searchable digital version of the Gough Map available on their website. They also direct researchers to another version of a digital Gough map at Mapping the Realm which was funded through the British Academy.

A colloquium and exhibition of the linguistic geographies research project and the Gough Map will be held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford from Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25 2011. At The Language of Maps colloquium, presenters will discuss the language and linguistics of medieval maps and mapping.

A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 58

The Consumer Electronics Show is always a magical time of companies showing off new technologies that we want or at least want to use. In this Special Episode we talk about the shiny baubles of technology that caught our attention from CES 2011.

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  • Call for blog contributors

    In the last 5.5 years we have gone from 2 people writing posts on the blog to 4, but the blog has, to date, been intended primarily to support the podcast. We have posted information that has excited us, things we didn’t have time for on the podcast, or topical information that didn’t fit in the podcast format. Now, however, we want to let the blog take on a life of its own.

    To that end we are looking for people who are involved with Geography and/or geospatial technologies in their daily lives to help us create content for the blog. We are looking for folks who have experience in various areas of geo to volunteer to contribute posts.

    We hope to broaden our blog topics through contributors who might be interested in writing one-shot posts and others who are interested in being regular contributors. The topical areas will be wide open to anything related to ‘geo’ including tech, culture, hazards, economy, bio, politics… you get the idea.

    We plan to increase the number of contributors from our current 4 (Sue, Frank, Barb and Jesse) to 6-8 regular contributors and a number of occasional or one-shot contributors with this call. With this growth we are moving to a editorial board that will review each post, this started as a way to help me check grammar instead of posting without reading what I wrote, but seemed like a good policy to implement across the board. I mention this since some folks (including me) are uncomfortable being edited.

    To apply to be a contributor please email us (at jesse at veryspatial dot com) by February 1 with the following details:
    Name, current position or experience with Geography or geospatial technologies, how often you would be interested in contributing, potential topics you would like to write about, and a writing sample of 300-500 words on a topic in Human Geography, Physical Geography, or any area of geospatial technology.

    Moving into 2011: call for topics and ideas

    Over the last five and a half years the blog here at has always been intended to be a support mechanism for our podcast. But as we start a new calendar year and a new half year of all things VerySpatial we have taken some time to contemplate what VerySpatial can be. To that end we have decided to move forward with three ideas which we need your help with.

    1. We are announcing an open call for blog contributors. We are looking for people who are involved with Geography and/or geospatial technologies in their daily lives to help us take the blog from a support role for A VerySpatial Podcast to a source of broad Geography content. I will post details on this open call on Thursday (Jan 13).
    2. An audience survey is being put together to get an idea of what you would like to see in terms of content, format, and schedule for the blog and podcast. It would be great if you would take a few minutes to respond to the survey when we roll it out at the beginning of February.
    3. Last year we organized a number of our podcast main topics and interviews around a theme (Time and Geography). This year, we wanted to continue with that idea, and are bringing you a new theme: Hazards. We plan to kick off the theme with a listener-requested discussion on flood mapping, but we want to know if you have any specific topics you would like us to discuss or people you would like us to talk to on the theme of hazards. Please email us or leave a comment on this post if you have any suggestions regarding the theme.

    While the podcast is generally a well-oiled machine after 286 weekly episodes, we will be tweaking a few things as we head toward our 6th anniversary in July. A notable shift will be placing more content in the conference/roadshow feed or releasing special episodes for most conference content and bringing you more discussions and broader interviews on the weekly podcast.

    We hope that we will find some great new contributors to help us in our efforts to bring you interesting information about the discipline, about the technologies we use every day, and about the bleeding edge of research, ideas, and technologies that will impact the way we approach Geography in the future.

    The Integration of Geospatial Technologies in Professions

    I have noticed lately that increasingly conferences outside of the geospatial sphere are specifically requesting geospatially related topics. I think it shows the integration and acceptance or growing need for “every day” geospatial skills and geospatial literacy outside of fields normally thought of as being obviously geo-related. It means that for geospatial users who often could not find people who “spoke their language” except at specialized conferences (American Association of Geographers (AAG), Esri International User Conference among others), there is growing opportunity for learning and sharing skills with other people within their specific profession.

    Some of the places I have seen this trend are in the recent Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) which has a 20 Year history of technology & teacher education. They included both geospatial technologies, 3D modeling for manufacturing, and serious gaming in their topics for the upcoming 2011 conference. They state that skills in these areas are becoming an important part of education and future job preparation for students.

    The prestigious EPA Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships For Graduate Environmental Study included this special note which states that awards, “may involve the collection of “Geospatial Information,” which includes information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.”

    The 26th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management also created a section for Geotechnical topics due to the increasing number of papers being submitted on the subject of solid waste and geospatial analysis such as route planning, design, administration, and cross-boundary environmental issues.

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 286

    A VerySpatial Podcast

    Shownotes – Episode 286
    January 9, 2011

    Main Topic: Our conversation with author Lesley Downie

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    US Census 2010 data and redistricting

    In about a month, the US Census Bureau will be releasing the 2010 Census data to states so that they can begin the process of redistricting for the House of Representatives, as well as state legislatures that use those boundaries for election districts. This process happens every ten years, and is a vital part of the process of governing here in the US. Redistricting is also an incredibly controversial political process, as political parties and other groups at all levels of government have a keen interest in how groups of voters are aggregated into districts. In the past, redistricting has often led to conflicts and lawsuits, as those with the power to make the redistricting maps can translate that power into electoral victories. Many people are at least familiar with the notion of gerrymandering, which is a term that dates back to the early 19th century, and refers to the deliberate drawing of electoral boundaries to try to increase a candidate’s or party’s chances of winning an election. There is even a new documentary film coming out called Gerrymandering, which is an in-depth look at mapping electoral districts and its impact on recent elections.

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    A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 57

    We are kicking off the year by catching up on some hidden gems…interviews that have been sitting on a hard drive unedited and unposted. First up is a conversation with Natasha Léger, Editor of LBx Journal, about LBx’s mission and direction recorded during Where 2.0 2010.

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  • Australian Flood Maps

    Like many recent weather-related disasters, the media and on-line websites have started to increasingly use interactive maps to explain disasters such as Guardian UK and other news outlets coverage of the current Australian flooding. In most areas where flooding is a problem, flood maps are very important not only for planning, such as the work done by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, but also for insurance purposes. In fact, flood insurance has been a major topic of debate over the past few years in Australia, and GIS plays an important part in it as demonstrated in a 2009 ESRI Australia Insurance Flood Map and Risk Policy Pricing video.

    The flooding reminded me of a 1988 science fiction disaster book I read called “The Drowning Towers” by distinguished Australian writer George Turner, which explored what would happen to society, if Australia flooded. It is considered one of the top science fiction novels of all time, but at the time it was written the idea of a flood on such a huge scale was considered to be unbelievable. It is interesting to me because disaster fiction always seems related to the geographical background of the person writing it, flooding has always been a very real problem in Australia. Corbis images has pictures of the Brisbane, Australia flood of 1893, Walking Melbourne has many historic photos includes ones of the 1863 flood, while the Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides a brief history of Queensland floods.

    Finally, a national appeal has been started to raise funds, accept donations, and provide resources through the Queensland government.

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 285

    A VerySpatial Podcast

    Shownotes – Episode 285
    January 2, 2011

    Main Topic: Our conversation on trends to watch for 2011

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