Maps Using Virtual Digital Holograms? It’s Only A Matter of Time.

I’m looking forward seeing the first mapping application using virtual digital holograms. What is a virtual digital hologram you ask? It is very cool technology that creates a 3-d image you can move around via tracking from your webcam. The best place to check it out is GE’s fantastic implementation Plug Into the Smart Grid.
GE Smart Grid Virtual Digital Hologram

Think of the pieces that might be used for a mapping implementation – it may be aerial photography, digital elevation models, Sketchup and other 3-d models of buildings and cities. And now FLARToolkit is available as a free non-commercial license to pull those pieces together to create virtual digital holograms viewable by anyone with a webcam, printer, and Internet connection. Due to the novelty aspect of the technology, its biggest potential may be its use for marketing, communication, and education campaigns. If you’ve seen mapping or other fun uses of this technology, please share them!

Visualizing the Grid: Interactive Web Map

NPR has produced a new interactive map of the U.S. energy grid and power sources. Included are several roll-over maps to see percent energy production by different states and by fuel type. It also includes an informative display of anticipated renewable (solar and wind) fuel sources incorporated into the grid over the next few decades. The maps are intuitive, well designed, and data sources are cited in the map’s footnotes. This is a good example of interactive map design for public education. It should serve as a terrific resource for educators to help students understand power production, renewable power supply, and power distribution in the U.S.
Visualizing the Grid

The interactive map is produced for NPR’s series, “Power Hungry: Re-Envisioning Electricity In The U.S.,” including over a dozen articles. One could easily imagine this series and maps being worked into the curriculum in middle through higher education, inviting students to explore questions about location, energy, and the future. From the site: “The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation’s electrical systems.”

Keep Your Eye on the Geospatial Revolution Project

Whether you are a lone GIS technician or a large GIS company, education and outreach is an ongoing challenge for everyone in the geospatial industry. The Geospatial Revolution Project was announced about a month ago and I was overly impressed with the goals and production value. It was too bad the wait-time was going to be long for final production. Today I received news that the GRP team will release short video segments throughout the life of the project rather than waiting for them all at the end. They are starting today by making the trailer downloadable. This is a high-quality video that will be useful with the general public and decision-makers (and family members who haven’t got it yet ;). Think about ways you might include the video clip in your community presentations, GIS day, school outreach, or the “About GIS” section of your website. See below for details – what a fantastic resource.
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Role of Sketching in Map Design Layouts

Sketch map figure from Slocum 2005

Hand-drawn sketching plays an important role in the digital arts. The larger a project is, and the more concepts a client will need to see, the more sketching will prove its worth in your design process. Consider using rough sketches for composition or layout options in your next project. Or push yourself to do a handful of thumbnail sketches before firing up your cartography software of choice. Create ten well thought out map design options (not seven to make three look good).  Select three and refine each.  Select one for final design.

In Role of Sketching in the Design Process, Sean Hodge discusses sketching for rapid concept development in traditional design.  This same process should be considered in cartography.

Festival of Maps at the Chicago Field Museum

I can’t for my next road trip to Chicago (which will definitely be soon). Festival of Maps Chicago opens this weekend and runs all the way through January 2009. Over 30 cultural and scientific institutions are involved in dozens of exhibits, lectures, and events that “display humanity’s greatest discoveries and the maps that record our boldest explorations.” I’m especially looking forward to a visit to the Field Museum’s exhibit “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World” which runs from November 2, 2007 — January 27, 2008.

Guidance From Above: IndianaMap Across Indiana

Over the past several months, I worked with producer Aric Hartvig of WFYI to document some of the uses and benefits of the IndianaMap for their series Across Indiana. In 2005, Indiana developed very high resolution orthophotography (aerial photography) as part of a single, consistent digital base map for geographic information systems — called the IndianaMap. The photography has made quite an impact –saving money, time, and lives by making an accurate base map available to everyone. This segment from WFYI documents some of those benefits.

Featured in the video are several Indiana Geographic Information Council members, including: Anna Radue – Indiana University UITS; Jim Binkley, Scottsburg Municipal Electric Utility; Nathan Eaton, Indiana Geological Survey; Brooke Gajownik, Hamilton County Sheriffs Office; Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Indiana Geographic Information Council.

Thanks WFYI!

My Wonderful World

How do you get kids involved with geography? Check out My Wonderful World for activities, links, and resources for parents and teachers.

Geography Is 10 Cool Things

  1. It’s big. It’s more than maps. Geography’s about knowing what’s where, why it’s there, and why it matters. Knowing geography will make your life more interesting, more exciting, and more fun. Geography opens doors. Get it.
  2. It’s out there. Geography is near AND far. It’s in your backyard and across the globe. Get to know your community and the people in it, and plan trips with your family to new places you’ve never been. Want to go overseas someday? Get a passport. Learn a new language and check out foreign exchange and other study-abroad programs for students. Travel the world virtually.
  3. It’s what you know. How’s your Global IQ? Test it, then try to outsmart GeoSpy and the GeoBee Challenge. If you’re in fourth through eighth grade, you can compete in the National Geographic Bee.
  4. It’s what you listen to. Regions have rhythms, and the sounds you like may echo cultures a world away. National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and iTunes are all good places to look for great new world music.
  5. It’s what you eat. Ever explored the world with a fork and a spoon—or with chopsticks? When you eat out, visit restaurants that serve ethnic foods. Find the region your food is from on a map when you get home. Try ethnic recipes and cook an international meal for your friends and family.
  6. It’s what you buy. Everything comes from somewhere. A walk through the mall or the grocery store can be a journey around the world. What’s in your closet? Your kitchen? Your living room? What are you wearing right now? Check the labels. Find out where things come from and how they got here.
  7. It’s what you do. Slap a map up on your wall. Or get a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit and take part in the game of geocaching or EarthCaching. It’s high-tech, real-life treasure hunting—locating items hidden around the world by other gamers.
  8. It’s academic. When you get to pick your classes, choose ones that have “geography” in their titles or focus on learning about the world. Choose research topics that let you learn about exotic places and geographic issues like cultural differences and environmental challenges. And sign up for the AP Human Geography class.
  9. It’s your future. Geography can take you anywhere and everywhere. One of the hottest fields now is Geographic Information Systems. Check out this Geography Career Guide for more. When applying to college, make sure to choose ones that offer geography courses and a major. (Here’s a list.)
  10. It’s important. You know how important geography is. Now make sure your teachers, parents, and friends aren’t out of the loop. Point them toward so they can get geography, too.