Category Archives: humanities

Geographicity? Say that 3 times fast.

Learned a new word today, geographicity. It’s in the title of an upcoming edX MOOC offered by a group of Swiss geographersExploring Human’s Space: an Introduction to Geographicity. A class designed to “explore how geography, cartography, urbanization and spatial justice play a role in shaping the notion of human space.”  Sounds marvelous and could be, if done well, an interesting entry into the somewhat opaque social-science side of my beloved discipline of geography.

The word itself – geographicity – is unlikely to ever make the OED. It was coined sometime after 1999 by two philosophers, Gary Backhaus and John Murungi. I first saw its definition (geographicity = the spatial component of all phenomena) in the preface of their 2007 book, Colonial and Global Interfacings: Imperial Hegemonies and Democratizing Resistances.  Geographicity also figures prominently in Esoscapes: Geographical Patternings of Relations, and Lived Topographies and their Mediational Forces.

passage about geographicityHere’s a passage from where I first saw the term discussed, from the preface of the Colonial and Global Interfacings books. Go ahead, read it through and challenge yourself to understand. I have, several times, and I’m still clueless.  Absurdly and gratuitously confusing academic-speak.

I really do have much respect for social theorists. Some of my best friends are social theorists. (okay, not really).  I’ve enjoyed the rich dialogue between fellow geographers about just this topic recently.  In this case, it’s philosophers writing and not geographers, but, still, I’d argue that this passage lies at the extreme edge of English-language communication.

new Holocaust Geography site

I’ve been following the various projects that research the Holocaust through its geography, often using GIS.  I’m most familiar with the work of Anne Knowles (video), connected in one part to the Spatial History project at Stanford.   The US Holocaust Memorial Museum also maintains a collection of geographically-based exhibits.

Today I learned about a new site, Exploring the Vilnius Ghetto.  The map interface is the standard organization framework to arrange geotagged media. Nicely designed.

H/t to Heather King.

Group Think: Paintings Inspired by Google’s Street View

I think this is cool, the Virtual Paintout.  Each month, the owner of this site (Bill Guffey) chooses a new location (city, island, region, country) and announces the venue. For January 2013, it’s the Isle of Man.  For the rest of the month, anyone in the world is encouraged to explore that site via Street View and create a painting based on that perspective.  Digital versions of the paintings are published throughout the month, as they’re received, and when the contributors can follow the rules.

It becomes a way for artists to promote their work, but it’s also inspiration to explore the imagery further.  Viewing via Street View, versus an overhead, planar perspective, creates a greater sense of place.  We need to see more than rooftops alone.

geographer earns Smithsonian’s Ingenuity Award

I learned this week that Anne Kelly Knowles has won one of the Smithsonian’s American Ingenuity Awards, for her work on Visualizing Gettysburg.  Fantastic, Anne!  I love the artsy interview with her too.  It is curious that it was the Gettysburg work being heralded now, since the Smithsonian looks for work that’s taken place in the last year and this is some of Anne’s older work. She’s moved far beyond this now, to the Holocaust and to her iron work.  Stay tuned for great publications from those endeavors too.

spatial thinking in movies

As they say, blending architecture and film. When I saw an issue it included diagrams and analysis of people’s movements too.  The Interiors Journal.  An outlet for directors and cinematographers, thinking in space.

more examples of linking geography and history via maps, some digital

My friends at the UVa Scholar’s Lab shared with me their new Neatline project earlier this week. I don’t know much about Omeka, but I always trust these guys to do good work with a wide range of OS tools. I do like the interface, the rapid loading of georeferenced maps, and the additional interactive functionality on the main screen. If I can figure out more about this, I have a stack of projects ready to try!

In Time & Place is oriented to secondary school learning. This will be a good resource for my Spatial Literacy students, and I’ll see about modifying things for my higher ed students too.  Not sure how I wandered across this site this week. I need to click on fewer windows to make h/t’ipping easier.

Conflict History is a Google Maps mashup. I like the timeline and the thorough “info” available.  This interface and collection really highlights the disparity between how few military conflicts we’ve had on US soil versus the rest of the world, and how relatively high Europe and Asia are. Not news, but interesting to see it in this way.  H/t to Google Maps Mania.


Mapping People Symposium: October 31 at Univ of Redlands

We’re gearing up for our first (annual?) Symposium on Mapping People.  Join us for this one-day event on October 31. We’ll explore the joys and challenges of mapping social and cultural data, learning about innovative approaches and projects.  Ian Gregory will be our keynote speaker. We’re seeking submissions of abstracts for lightning talks and posters.  Awards will be given for the top grad student and undergrad student presentations!

The event is free, sponsored through our grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation.  But space is limited so register soon!

new interfaces for georeferenced historical maps

New to me:  MapScholar, from University of Virginia. Recently re-funded by NEH for becoming even bigger and better. Smooth interface, reminiscent in some ways of UCLA’s Hypercities, which itself reminds me of the latest batch of David Rumsey maps that are now accessible (to view at least) in georeferenced form, via geogarage (?). I knew there were a batch in Google Earth, but these are the first I’d seen in 2-D Google Maps.

Geotagged library collections are becoming, slowly, standard. What’s the next step beyond georeferencing projects like these? More 3D work, like within Rumsey’s GIS sites? What more can we dig out of these efforts?

Thanks to Dave for the Rumsey info.

a new lit and map app from Iowa

In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, a group of authors shared their work on the “City of Lit”: Collaborative Research in Literature and New Media.  There’s nothing that singly knocks my socks off about the project, but I do like the combination of an undergrad literature classroom + primary research in archived library collections + user-generated-content additions to the database + geotagged stories on a mobile device.  And they managed to scale it up to a good sized classroom too.  Nice.

marvelous French human kaleidoscope patterns

I *love* kaleidoscopes. I remember spending hours lying on my back and twisting them over my head, towards a sunny window.  Here is an awesome “human” version, done by some clever French folks, definitely thinking spatially!  I’d not have called it an arabesque, thinking only of the ballet position, but seems the word is much broader in its design sense.  Learn something new every day!

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit.

h/t to Geography Education.