New maps use math to define the amorphous term.
By now I’m sure many of you have seen some iteration of this research and data visualization circulating through social media outlets (you can see the article from City Lab, Atlas Obscura or an urban planning program). We use terms like the greater metropolitan area to express the idea that areas beyond the city boundaries and even beyond the metropolitan statistical areas are linked with cities. These ‘mega-regions’ are in part the hinterlands of a city, a functional region where the cities act as hubs of economic regions.
From to-go mugs to small talk
I’m not trying to disparage one culture group over another, but to point out that some cultural traits and norms only make sense in a certain place within a particular cultural context. Sometimes its hard to see our own culture until we go somewhere else with a different cultural background.
Questions to Ponder: What is a cultural trait that you realized was distinct only after being in contact with those from places/cultural settings? Why are some traits perceived as strange outside of their cultural context but perfectly normal within them?
“How do you get Google to visit your small, remote island group with its Street View vehicles, and digitize your roads for the benefit of locals and tourists alike? If you are the Faroe Islands, then you exploit your local resources to roll your own Street View, in the hopes of attracting Google’s attention. Behold: Sheep View 360, a solar-powered 360-degree camera, mounted on a sheep’s back. Sheep View takes advantage of one great Street View feature: You can upload your own images to Google’s service. So Durita Dahl Andreassen, working for the tourist site Visit Faroe Islands, decided to kick-start the Faroe Islands’ entry by putting the camera on a sheep and letting it wander free, then uploading the photos.”
I think this is my favorite mapping story of the year…I’m sharing this just because I can. Google wouldn’t originally bring its Street View-recording cars to the islands (part of Denmark), so a solar-powered, ovine-mounted camera was put to work. Fact can be stranger than fiction.
“With timely assists from the Spanish-speaking skills of players and executives, the Lakers have cultivated Hispanic support in their community.”
Julio Manteiga, associate director of media monitoring and Latin America communications for the NBA, provided ESPN information stating Hispanic fan attendance for Lakers games was 42 percent. In the 2015 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population of Los Angeles County was measured at 48.4 percent. The Lakers have benefited from taking the initiative to make their games accessible to a Latino audience, starting with broadcasting games in Spanish.
“Have you ever felt so stressed out or anxious that you just want to open your window and scream at the top of your lungs?
Well, students in Flogsta, a residential area in the Swedish university town of Uppsala, do just that when the exam pressure gets too overwhelming. Every night at 10pm Swedish students open their windows and scream for several minutes.”
This is an strange a cultural trait as anything you’ll ever see and it is delightfully enjoyable. Like so many great traditions, no one knows exactly how or when this phenomenon started.
Questions to Ponder: How does this activity diffuse in Flogsta at night? How did this activity diffuse to other college towns in Europe? Why is this a thing?
“Back in the ’70s, almost a hundred reporters around the country – Washington Post bureau chiefs, rovers, freelancers and me, their desk-bound editor – were trying to get our arms around how North America worked, really. Not how it should work. But how it did work. Forget those nice neat rectangles in the middle of the U.S. Let’s be real: The mountains of western Colorado are totally alien from the wheat fields of eastern Colorado. And Miami is part not of Florida, but its own watery Caribbean realm. And what a terrible idea is ‘California.’ It behaves as if it covers three warring civilizations. The result was my 1981 book, ‘The Nine Nations of North America.’ The reader reaction was astonishing. This map – drawn to anticipate the news – revealed something much deeper. It turned out to be a map of culture and values, which have nothing to do with our perversely drawn state and national boundaries.”
Question to Ponder: How would you divide up North America? What would be some differences from this map? What reasons do you have for making these different regional groupings? What are the main criteria for what constitutes a region?
It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?
As stated in a Vox article, “The video above, from the American Museum of Natural History, shows essentially all of human history in just six minutes. It shows humanity spreading across the world over a few hundred thousand years — even as our population remained under 1 million. After that came the rise and fall of many empires and civilizations, plagues, wars, and so on — all the way to our current population of around 7 billion.” Admittedly, the video is a bit “slow” in the middle, but that is a major part of the story of human population growth, and only serves to show how dramatic the population growth is at the end. This video brings up more questions than it has answers.
“At the county level, America is a tremendously unequal place.”
The concentration of wealth within U.S. cities is one of the most powerful geographic patterns in North America (and remains of of the key geographic stories of the 2016 presidential election). NYC served as a hub for the import/export of primary economic resources during the 18th and 19th centuries as the Erie Canal opened up the interior of the United States to become part of NYC’s hinterland. NYC expanded as a hub for the manufacturing of consumer products and then began to transition to a more tertiary based economy. “There are more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. Of the 75 with the highest incomes, 44 are located in the Northeast, including Maryland and Virginia. The corridor of metropolitan statistical areas that runs from Washington, D.C., through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston includes 37 of these top-earning counties (where the median family takes home at least $75,000 a year).”
A step-by-step tutorial on how to create an interactive map with Visme, a free online infographic and presentation tool.
If you have students use Piktochart to create infographics, then this is a new tool that you should consider. In addition to creating infographics, this allows users to create and embed interactive maps in those infographics. This is a both a baby-step into the world of GIS as well as a way to create student projects that are richly informative.