Category Archives: web mapping

working with old maps

I’m still digesting the surplus of ideas, information, and stimuli that came through as overload during last week’s AAG conference in NYC.  One of the tracks that I’d have hoped to get to (if I could clone myself, and have the double arrive pre-loaded with more energy) was held at the New York Public Library, focusing on the use of historical maps and data in a number of ways.  I did have friends at those sessions, however, and one of them – Chris Gist from UVA- came to dinner one night full of enthusiasm for the plans around oldmapsonline.org.   I suppose such a wonderful level of contributed sharing was inevitable in today’s world of VGI.  Bring on the temporal/spatial change studies!

NYPL is also known for their innovative use of open-source tools to crowd source the georeferencing of their own collection of maps and images.

crowd sourcing efforts in the remote sensing and spatial thinking realms

My colleague Patrick Meier tweeted about the effort to crowdsource sea floor images, evaluating the images to ascertain population counts of sea scallops.  It reminded me of similar citizen science efforts at validating land cover, and folding proteins. I remember that the Jane Goodall Institute is also contributing to or managing another forest / land cover effort too, but can’t find it right now.

Patrick has written about such efforts in the humanitarian realm as well.

It takes a village + geospatial technologies = progress.

observing and representing migratory patterns

I came across two sites this week that used maps in well-designed ways to visualize migratory patterns.  I have an ongoing interest in finding clever and innovative ways to represent flow and movement.

The first was Geo-Mexico, and I first saw their simple-but-elegantly-effective Flash-based maps to link individual Mexican states to the areas in the US, based on registering with consulates.  Then I remembered helping my colleague Steve to map remittances so I smiled when I saw this nice overview and a lesson to boot! I’ll definitely follow this site more. Hat tip to Seth Dixon’s Geography Education for the find.

Much more mesmerizing are these animated maps of annual bird movements, from my local-but-still-unknown Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.  I’m not a birder myself and have great respect for those who can differentiate more than from amongst crows and starlings (i.e., my skill level). I checked out the patterns of birds whose names suggested they know their home, like the Kentucky Warbler and the Louisiana Waterthrush (what’s up with that little patch in southwestern South Dakota in April/May?  a particularly active citizen-science group or an interesting modeled anomaly?).  I love how the Indigo Bunting aligns with the Mississippi in July and August.  These maps represent the results of models: they don’t reflect actual observations at all of those locations. But they do show the power of visualization when ground truthed, primary data are combined with our large collections of other geospatial information.

No man is an island, no place is a point

Rebecca Davis, my former colleague at NITLE, just hosted a Google+ discussion on possible ways that map-based stories can support student learning.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them, so I’m glad that she’s posted a summary of the session.

Linking place with narrative is central for spatially-focused digital humanities efforts.  Their comments on how to make projects collaborative are particularly important ones.  The tools themselves support collaboration by design, but managing that within an instructional setting requires careful forethought and planning.  As you’re designing the assignment, think through how you may separate content from technology knowledge. Don’t leave it to chance.  Like any group project, divide and conquer through chunks or phases. Train all students with the technologies, then allow for and recognize the natural tech leaders that will come to the forefront.  Provide them structured opportunities to help their peers.  Looks for ways to customize every possible aspect of the project, from on-the-ground field work to specially designed icons. Everyone naturally gravitates towards the visual media with these tools. Don’t overlook the audio possibilities, whether it’s music associated with the project as a whole, an overall narration, or authentic voices from the people of the place.  Experiment with lines and area (polygons) as indicators of locations too. No man is an island, no place is a point.

To move beyond tacking your info over someone else’s pre-digested map may eventually require dedicated programming efforts, but I’m certain we haven’t reached the ceiling for creative projects with simple tools.

Esri has a new page dedicated to Map(ping) Stories too.

The NEH is hosting two different Institutes this summer for those with grand ideas:

1) Spatial Narrative and Deep Maps: Explorations in the Spatial Humanities, at IUPUI in Indiana, and

2) Digital Cultural Mapping: Transformative Scholarship and Teaching in the Geospatial Humanities, at UCLA.

mapping cumbia in Colombia

A musical map of cumbia sources around Colombia, from Soundway Records. It’s hard to listen to these sound snippets without starting to move my feet and hips, as a dancing clod.   Colombia is my mother’s native country but I obviously inherited none of the rhythms!

VGI efforts to find localized radiation hot spots in Japan

PBS reported on a Japanese VGI effort to find micro hot spots.  Clever thinking to have the container with the Geiger counter and the GPS look like a bento box!  The community efforts are contributing to this regional map of radiation measurements, coordinated by Safecast.org.

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…

Mapping Road Rage

From Audi, a website that lets you monitor a Road Frustration Index.  I’m not sure how you’d keep track of this driving info as a driver yourself, unless you had your navigator checking for you.   And their beta version doesn’t seem to draw  any live data.  I’ve read the same “my butt is falling asleep” tweet from Los Angeles each time I’ve checked.  But I always like the idea of using maps as one element of information graphics and visualization.

a new effort at geocoding from the Peutinger Map

Some maps were never meant to be georeferenced, and the Peutinger Map is one of them.  Here are some nicely  scanned versions of its sections.

But I do respect the efforts that some have made to scrape off the locations, do some creative and researched geocoding, and provide scholars with a digital tool that may provide an insight or two.   This is a new one that I just learned about, the Omnes Viae.  Locations are based on Richard Talbert’s work.

via Neatorama.