Category Archives: technology

Considering Spatial Citizenship

I’ve just completed Day 1 of a SPACIT meeting, the semi-annual gathering of partners working on this Comenius funded project. Very interesting ideas coupled with very ambitious plans! Combining GIS&T, geography, philosophy, politics, the act of “participating” – or engagement, pedagogy and teacher professional development, communication, and other technology, especially via geomedia. Here’s a recent paper, GI and Spatial Citizenship (pdf) authored by 3 of the lead partners, Inga Gryl, Thomas Jekel, and Karl Donert.

I’m contributing on behalf of NCGE, and I have much to learn from these discussions. And did I mention we’ve gathered in Salzburg, Austria, at the university where the GI Forum and AGIT is about to happen?  Geo everywhere.


using Google Maps for non-geographic representations

I just finished teaching our annual Short Spring Spatial workshops, and as usual, I had a blast updating my list of “web mapping” applications and projects. One of the categories of “maps” that continue to fascinate me are those that leverage the Google Maps API for innovative and non-conventional “spatial” thinking.  What I value here is the clever outcome that these developers don’t need to spend time/money creating a “new” platform for navigation, when the Google navigational functionality (expressed via their iconic pan and zoom icons) is all we need.

Previously I’ve known about Google’s Art Project, where you can explore the (indoor) collections of many museums around the world (click Museum View and Floor Plan to put yourself indoors) .  They’ve definitely expanded their museum coverage since last year.  I do find it curious that they’ve bothered to keep the compass functionality (which you can suppress). Perhaps someone might really want to consider whether there are patterns to the type of artwork on southern walls across different museums?  Many art museums don’t go out of their way to have large windows because they’re limiting the amount of sunlight that fades paintings.  We could systematically go through these museums and evaluate this? Maybe a project for someone’s rainy day (but not mine…).

Unfortunately, another very creative Google project using their Maps API, one that allowed you to explore fractals, is now untethered and not kept up. It was a lovely one.  And didn’t have the compass built in!

This year I have found a number of medically-oriented sites, all new to me.  These include the Zygote Body (only works with my Chrome browser), the Genome Projector, the Virtual Microscope, Brain Connectivity, and the KESM Brain Atlas (tiny mice brains).  Most of these are obviously targeted towards a particular audience for specific educational objectives, but I particularly love playing with the Zygote Body site! Clever use of overlay that’s both “horizontal” and “vertical” through the layers.  My biology-studying children found it fascinating too.  No north in these sites!

One of these days I need to teach myself how to use the API so I can have some fun. My first project will be to create Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell, Seven Terraces of Purgatory, and Nine Spheres of Paradise.  Seriously.  It’ll be a great spatial humanities project on my next rainy day.

h/t to GoogleMapsMania for many of these.

Happy to have stumbled across GIS Stack Exchange

New to me: GIS Stack Exchange. A great site for questions, answers, and thoughtful discussions!

photographic scenes from America via Street View

Doug Rickard spent almost two years scanning through Google’s collection of “Street View” images and selected out thousands, some of which are now being shown in an exhibit at MoMA.   At first I was a bit skeptical – having “your” photos exhibited when you yourself didn’t actually create the images. You created the collection.  But the MoMA intro does explain that he mosaiced and manipulated the images, so there was creative production work on his part too. I can think of parallels with other types of artists and “found objects,” but this idea is new to me for photography.

tips for mashing up maps

via The Map Room, a link to instructional videos for using Open Street Map.

via somewhere, a wonderful suite of map icons for Google Maps.

and a thoughtful blog entry about who’s using these technologies to do what for whom and how, or not.

being reminded of where your phone travels

Like many others around the world, I found the recent news that my iPhone’s location is being constantly monitored to be somewhat shocking and unsettling. Because I synch my phone to this computer, I used this program to see the patterns.  Sure enough, this is where my phone and I have been since August 2010.  Yikes.


Update:  Remember, the recorded locations may not be exact. Here’s a nice description from GeoIQ of how inconsistent they can be, and why.   And another note from Peter Batty that gives further reassuring insights.

Searching via GPS and Following the Answers?

Once we combined GPS receivers and the yellow pages, there were few limits to the things we could find.  But it turns out that most of the time we search for Walmarts and pizza, especially when we’re in Los Angeles.  I think it’s interesting that the Riverside / San Bernardino area makes the top ten list for places where people make frequent searches.  Really?

Once the search directions have been provided, more men than women tend to ignore them.  Regardless of gender, it’s best to use the devices in moderation and with reason, unlike her and him.