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Monday, December 28, 2009

Lulu is 12. She and her Mom created what I believe is the best geo gift I’ve ever seen. Lulu has two cousins, twin three year old boys. For the holidays Lulu and her Mom drew out, in permanent colored markers, a cloth play area for the twins’ cars. It has roads, complete with stop signs. It has Lulu’s house and just down the street, the twins’ house. (She’s quite aware that in fact they live about two hours apart, at either end of the state of Massachusetts, but clearly, in her heart, the boys live much, much closer!) The map has a school and a dog park. It has a library. It has a community garden, complete with flowers. It has a car repair shop, just in case of an accident. It has all the points of interest in the mental maps of the boys, at least in Lulu’s estimation. I think she got it just right.

My first thought: Which one of them would get to take it to college to hang on the wall of their dorm room?

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/28 at 02:16 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Just before the holidays the main site appeared - it links to many types of data (geo included, served up by MassGIS).

Welcome to the Massachusetts Open Data Initiative Wiki Space. Please note that we expect to update this content regularly with data as it becomes available. As of today much of the Commonwealth’s data is available via web query interfaces - links are provided within the Data Catalog.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/28 at 10:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“What “cloud computing” was for 2009, “location based” will be for 2010.”

- Justin Williams in his year end wrap up of “nerd tech” in the Evansville Currier and Press

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/28 at 08:33 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Rutgers University staff cartographer Michael Siegel started teaching twenty years ago when drafting tables dominated the classroom. Now filled with computers, Siegel is trying to provide students with a better appreciation of maps and to explore the more human component of mapmaking. "It’s a mission for me to pass on to the next generation of mapmakers the human component — make sure they understand the data and not just choose from options the computer gives you," Siegel says.

First, it’s rare to find a university that still has a geography department (Kudos to my alma mater for understanding the great need that still exists for a better appreciation of global cultures and the natural landscape). It’s rarer still to have a university employ a staff cartographer. Part of Siegel’s job is making maps for other Rutger’s professors. He’s also just finished a book, "Mapping New Jersey (Rugters Univeristy Press, $39.95). One person suggested that he develop a "scratch and sniff" book of New Jersey to capture all of its various smells. An interesting concept that intrigues Siegel. My advice: stay away from the Turnpike.

(Source: and the Newark Star Ledger)

by Joe Francica on 12/28 at 08:05 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That’s the title of a Culture & Society article in a publication that “harnesses current academic research with real-time reporting to address pressing social concerns.” The article focusses on a couple that formed a GIS institute to take on social justice issue. The Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities is based in Orange County, N.C.,  and story highlights how GIS helped rectify injustices in Zanesville, Ohio and Mebane, NC among others.

While the article focuses on how GIS helps in such cases and related policy issues such as health, it suggests GIS in its infancy and still unknown to the public:

Still, GIS is in its relative infancy as a popular science, and public awareness of its attributes and capacity is relatively low. Although most people have been exposed on the Internet to such GIS-based products as Google Maps, few can identify the technology behind them. Sarah Elwood, a geography professor at the University of Washington who has spread the GIS gospel to community groups, often encounters a baseline ignorance of the concept. “You say ‘GIS’ and people say, ‘Oh, yeah, I have one of those in my car,’” Elwood says.

- Miller-McCune

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/28 at 07:04 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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