Category Archives: social sciences

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.

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Census data, a traditional approach to US social information

If you’re looking to map people across the US, there is no source of information with as much comprehensive coverage at the Census data. Of course it might not be the type of information you want, but you’ll have to take that up with Congress.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of sources for it:

American Fact Finder, info from the source itself.  Be brave and dive in.

Social Explorer, a long-time favorite, especially if you just want to LOOK at Census maps.

the National Historical Geographic Information System. A funny name for what it is: a good source for raw historical data.  Plus the only source I know of for historical boundary files.

Mining (and then Mapping) Wikileaks

My colleagues from the University of Virginia have posted another step-by-step on their Spatial Humanities site, this one from Devin Becker, a digital initiatives librarian at the University of Idaho.   You too can follow Devin’s (tried and true) instructions and dive into Wikileaks yourself, with his 2-part example of the Afghan War Diary data.

One particularly great thing about this guide?   A simple entry to  Google Fusion tables, for those of us who haven’t had the time to play at all yet.  Thanks, Devin.

I tried to find a link to a website for Devin at the University of Idaho, and failed. But in the process I did uncover his cool design for Visualizing Metadata.  My library friends at Redlands will like this…

the Wicked Witch of Finance

I have absolutely no formal background in international economics, politics, or finance, but at some point I came across the blog of Chris Blattman and  have been a faithful follower ever since.  I like his explanations, his humility, his dedication to teaching, and his sense of humor.   Like today’s entry in which he likens the world of finance to cruel and unusual acts of violence.

neighborhood watch


Nice memories of my year in Lisbon, under the watchful eyes of the old women in windows.

China’s population


Nice graphic to convey the massive size of China’s population.

20th century conflict history via food fights

For Emily’s social studies lesson today, we watched this and figured who was whom and why (when, where) they were blowing each other up. An excellent home-schooling learning opportunity.

http://www.youtube.com/user/touristpictures

Look for the Food Fight video.