Once you have the habit of mind, you notice patterns everywhere. Spatial thinking by photographers over New York, duly noted as City Geometry (link to NYT slide show).
Turn your airplane views into flooring. Lovely “land carpet” patterns on these designs from Florian Pucher. I love the way he’s using satellite images as inspiration. I’m sold.
One way that spatial literacy is cultivated is the habit of observing (noting, identifying, recognizing) patterns. Once that starts happening, they become your frames of reference. They’re images that your mind draws upon as it makes inferences and organizes information. Pattern, process, pattern, process.
Most geographers I know chose window seats in airplanes, even the geographers with long legs or small bladders. Then Google Earth (and its fellow virtual globes) brought the visual exploratory experience to our desktops. If you find yourself stuck with neither the internet nor an airplane, I highly recommend Bernhard Edmaier’s Patterns of the Earth, and Philip Ball’s Branches and Flow and Shapes. I also like to look through Gregory Dicum’s Window Seat, but I’ve never really used it while I’m flying. I guess you could build a virtual globe lesson with it too.
Speaking of virtual globe lessons, check out Scott Wilkerson’s DELUGE project, one of the best collections of geologically-focused kml files I’ve ever come across. He did a brilliant job of gathering and georeferencing topo maps to support 3D- and spatially-based learning.
Anyone know of other such books and resources?
A few weeks ago I discovered the work of Steven Johnson (here and here), and have enjoyed learning more about his great imagination. I especially enjoy sketches that illustrate spatial processes, like these laundry/exercise machines.