Archive for the ‘events’ Category

I’ve been intrigued with Lisa Parks’ presentation at Where 2.0 last week. Personally, I like the topic because I study the exact same stuff in my day job—when I’m not Twittering. Yet, it had an air of ignorance in it. It was observed from a cultural studies, almost post-modern view. It might be an observation from the outside that we don’t care for, but it is interesting and a needed perspective.

So, do we think of the effect of our media? Those media that are representations of real life in spatial terms.

We could put some deep thought into this for years and months, but for any geo-types who feel like Parks gave us a bum rap, and for those who may want to challenge her assumptions about geo as a medium, then start off by reading a paper by Daniel Sui and Mike Goodchild. It’s called, “A tetradic analysis of GIS and society using McLuhan’s law of the media.”

This paper argues that GIS are increasingly becoming media for communicating various crucial social and environmental information to the general public. By reconceptualizing GIS as media, the paper conducts a detailed tetradic analysis on the social implications of GIS using Marshall McLuhan’s law of media. The analysis reveals the paradoxical and ambivalent nature of GIS technology. To make GIS fulfill democratic ideals in society, this paper calls for a shift of perspective, from viewing them as instruments for problem‐solving to viewing them as media for communication. This shift from instrumental to communicative rationality enables us to examine more critically and holistically how space, people and environment have been represented, manipulated and visualized in GIS and thus promotes a more critical and democratic GIS practice. [Emphasis mine]

For all things GeoWeb, this starts you off with some perspective where Parks was trying to come from. It did for me, and it’s probably why I’m reading books on media ecology and cultural geography of media. It’s a crazy shift for a kind of paleo/neogeography guy like myself, but just its another way of studying geography and our impact on place and people.

Understanding geo as a medium will help you realize the impact and design of your applications… As well as debating the academic film and media department’s evaluation of your lifestyle.

With the precision accuracy of the ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy 9.3 Beta acurately predicting that James Fee would never go to a Where 2.0 Conference, the ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy 9.3 finally has a release candidate!

Looks like it will ship with the rest of the 9.3 suite in four weeks. An added bonus to the ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy 9.3 is that Google will be able to index your answers. That way, the ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy 9.3 can tell your friends how wrong you were along with the when and where.

Fail! ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy 9.3

You’ll also be able to put your ESRI Magic Eight-ball Knock-off & Stress Squishy-thingy’s answer on Google Maps.

Google Fail

The future is looking awesome!

To quote a line from Jack Ryan:

[imitating the Admiral] “The average Rooskie, son, don’t take a dump without a plan.” Wait a minute. We don’t have to figure out how to get the crew off the sub. He’s already done that, he would have had to. All we gotta do is figure out what he’s gonna do. So how’s he gonna get the crew of the sub. They have to want to get off. How do you get a crew to want to get off a submarine? How do you get a crew to want to get off a nuclear sub…

Someone doesn’t have a plan, or they’re friggin’ geniuses. Think about this. There’s going to be Google data going to ESRI users and ESRI user data will be visible to the Google indexers. That leaves us with some unanswered questions:

  • What is going to be the EULA going to look like on both sides?
  • Will data made w/ gData be the user’s data, or Google or ESRI’s data if it’s exposed to Google’s web?
  • Will the analysis layers be indexed by Google and will they own a copy?
  • Will “Big Iron GIS” users even want to expose their data to Google and the web?
  • Where’s Microsoft in this? ESRI + Microsoft makes for quick and easy GIS. Does (ESRI + Microsoft) * Google = Cloud Geoprocessing? Or, Google using Microsoft server and database platforms?

Getting back to ESRI users exposing data. Some of those users don’t let that stuff out of their command line. A friend was telling me today that cities in his region are ultra resistant to sharing data with other cities. So, how does Jack get his users to expose their data?

That’s what I really want to know.

The typical ESRI user “is an expert.” Or, at least in their own mind; and they typically don’t want to be usurped in anyway. Their Matrix gets turned off like that doll house by SAP. You may get a county to do something, but local sites are going to be a pain in the butt to turn onto the web by ESRI. Unless it’s ESRI’s responsibility in the pre-nup to bring in the “trusted interlocutors” to Google.

Something is askew.

On a side note: I spoke with Lisa Parks, who spoke yesterday about slippy map makers framing spatial media context, today. She has a grad student tracking the changes to the Google license agreement almost daily. That is because it changes almost daily.

In honor of Where 2.0, I figure I’d make the connection to all that the paleos like Jack Dangermond and Don Cooke and the like were once neogeographers about 30, 40 years ago. To illustrate this I’ll try to bring up some interesting facts from the past about neogeographers of the 60’s and 70’s and maybe older.

First person to be highlighted is Edgar Horwood from the University of Washington and first URISA president. Dr. Horwood created a card mapping and tape mapping computer program. Prior to 1960, Harwood offered the first academic course utilizing computer processing and geographic information.

Interesting thing about Horwood is that he has a series of “short laws” that every paleo and neogeographer should know:

  1. Good data is the data you already have
  2. Bad data drives out good
  3. The data you have for the present crisis was collected to relate to the previous one
  4. The respectability of existing data grows with elapsed time and distance from the data source to the investigator
  5. Data can be moved from one office to another but it cannot be created or destroyed
  6. If you have the right data you have the wrong problem and vice versa
  7. The important thing is not what you do but how you measure it
  8. In complex systems there is no relationship between information gathered and the decision made
  9. Acquisition from knowledge is an exception
  10. Knowledge flows at half the rate at which academic courses proliferate

“Stick with us. We’re paleos.”


I’ve planned my escape from the ESRI Nunnery to attend the Where 2.0 conference for tomorrow! I’ll be breaking out posing as an ESL student and driving the five or six hours in Jack’s Volvo—with Jack! We’ll talk about 9.4 for awhile. I’ll stroke his hairs to soften him up to talk to him about Google, Microsoft, and the small businesses who are trying to cache in on the use of geography. Then we’ll practice his joint talk for Where. I’ll be John Hanke and he’ll be… Well, Jack. It should be fun!

I’ll of course have to go cold turkey outside of Redlands. Being without the dialysis machine’s steady flow of Kool-Aid to keep me alive will be interesting. I think I’ll pack my bags with instructor-led training manuals to keep me going. Perhaps I could rig a get up like Darth Vader, or one of those liquid breathing rigs from The Abyss to sustain me?

Truth be told, I really have to get crackin’ on finishing my final paper to graduate from the Nunnery’s fortress-like bunker walls. It’s like pulling teeth. No need to pose as an ESL student, I write like one! If you see someone sitting with a bunch of books strewn across a table with a “WWJD: What would Jack do?” t-shirt on. That’s probably me. Stop by. Say hello. Move on. I have work to do.


Oh, and don’t forget! Dave Bouwman is buying drinks with his ESRI Dev Summit earnings for anyone who wears an ESRI t-shirt or looks like James Fee in the Marriott bar.

james fee

Here at the ESRI Polytechnic Engineering School for the Blind, we have a weekly colloquium where we (the students) and the ESRI staff meet to hear interesting presentations every Wednesday. Today’s colloquium was a presentation from another resident of The Gulag, Dr. John Kimerling of Oregon State fame, presented Dotting the Dot Map. Beware: there’s a dose of math with funny symbols in this one.

From the abstract:

Dot maps show the geographic distribution of features in an area by placing dots representing a certain quantity of features where the features are most likely to occur. The fundamental steps in dot mapping are to select the dot size, determine the dot unit value, and place the correct number of dots in a random manner that correctly reflects the geographic distribution of features.

Selecting the dot size is a subjective decision, but the dot unit value has long been determined with the aid of the Mackay nomograph. Close examination of the nomograph finds it not appropriate for determining the dot unit value when dot placement is based on computer-generated random numbers that result in overlapping dots. A new graphical aid for dot unit value determination was created by modeling aggregate area of dots and amount of dot overlap using a truncated form of the unification equation from probability theory. Aggregate dot areas predicted by this equation were tested against actual random dots created for several common dot sizes, and high agreement was found between measured and predicted aggregate area. The new ESRI Dot Value Estimator was created by Aileen Buckley based on these results.

Pseudo-random dot placement with a maximum overlap constraint for dot pairs appears to better mimic how cartographers have traditionally placed dots. Pseudo-random dot placement can be thought of as similar to rigid random placement of circles in a square with maximum circle overlap limits from 0% (mutually exclusive dots) to 100% (totally random dots). Thinking of dot placement in this manner allowed a general equation for aggregate dot area to be devised as a linear combination of the mutually exclusive and totally random dot endpoint equations. Aggregate areas predicted by this general equation were found to closely match actual assemblages of pseudo-random dots with differing maximum dot pair overlaps.

The second part of this research focused on improving the guidance given for the placement of dots when mapping human population from U.S. Census data. MS GIS students […] created a series of maps for San Bernardino county that illustrate the improvements in dot placement that result from using progressively smaller Census data collection units, and then using land use information to exclude areas unlikely to contain people. The final refinement was using road buffers as inclusion areas in rural areas.

I point this one out because it is rarely in the geoblogosphere we get techniques in cartography, especially with ESRI GIS technology.  Fortunately, there’s the ESRI Mapping Center for those with the ESRI crutch. They even have a blog!  I would reference the site quite often for the power GIS user who makes maps as it is chalk full of goodies (scripts) and tricks to get the most—cartographically—out of ArcGIS. As for the mega-cartographer, I would reference information aesthetics, John Krygier’s Making Maps: DIY Cartography, Tom Patterson’s Shaded Relief, and even Edward Tufte’s Ask E.T for more tips and techniques for cartographic and information visualization.

On the same note, and I don’t know if you feel the same way, but it seems as if there is little “art” in our science these days in the GIS and map services world.  It could be just me? I’m writing more design and project documentation these days.