Category Archives: Uncategorized

March Map-Madness at Davidson

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I just heard this story and I felt like sharing it widely.  Undergrad students at Davidson making maps of basketball plays and helping their team – via their coaches – be more successful than ever.  They watch the game VERY CAREFULLY and plot the data.  This is manual data collection, then manual data entry. Not, as the NPR story suggests, the same way that the big guys do it now, with lots of overhead cameras.  And now that Kirk Goldberry has hit the big time in letting the world know about this strategy, it’s surely becoming a more widespread practice.

I like that the guys at Davidson have figured it out on their own. I like that the first time, they turned in a “5-page essay” of the results to the coaches, and discovered how less-than-helpful that was.  So now they produce the much more visually effective “heat maps” and help the team learn about their competition, spatially, before tip-off.  And that they have the work-flow down to 10 minutes?  Give these guys a hand.  And, @NPR, next time – it’s okay to say “spatial analysis” and “GIS” as well.

Of course, smart undergrads have been doing this exact thing for a while. Like the Travis Gingras from St. Lawrence who did this with hockey, almost 10 years ago!

sunsets and full moons in the rear view mirror

Three weeks of time shifting. How can it all drag out so slowly and fly by at the same time?  We’re heading to the airport shortly, for our  4:10 am flight to Guam. Who schedules a flight for 4:10 am?

I’ve been watching chickens cross the road. The full moon brings the crabs out, and they’re running across the roads too. The full moon makes the neighbor’s yard flood with the tide is high, twice daily.  Now it happens only every four weeks when moons are full. Soon it will happen more and more regularly since they live only inches above sea level.  Today we had one light drizzle rain, during the local 8th grade graduation ceremony that we were watching, and two strong and heavy downpours, each an hour apart while we were riding in the back of the pickup truck on two separate occasions. I usually ride up in the cab; professor’s privilege. Tonight I was in the back both times, together with students and fellow professor Greg, and both times we were absolutely drenched with rain. We howled with laughter.

I’ve loved Yap, especially being called by my first name now by a few dozen people on the island, and experiencing underwater life through scuba and snorkeling, and making maps for the Yapese.  Someday I’ll come back.

why big maps matter

The NYT has an article today about the strategic discussions being held on, and above, an enormous map of the world.  I’m sure that most people don’t catch the projection pun in the headline!

Next spring, the University of Redlands will again host one of the visiting National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps, together with several schools in the Redlands Unified School District. Last year we had South America, this year will be Asia. Children and adults alike are awed by the experience.

There is truly something awesome, and raw in its kinesthetic nature, to be in contact with maps of these dimensions. It’s the closest we come to a larger-than-life map, since the 1-1 scale would be ever so inconvenient.