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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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technology

The languages the world is trying to learn, according to Duolingo

If you own a smartphone and are trying to learn a language, you probably have Duolingo. English is far and away the most dominant, with a caveat: For some learners, English is the only language Duolingo offers with translation into their native tongue. That doesn’t change the fact of universal interest in English, though, which Duolingo notes is studied by 53% of its users. Things get more interesting when you look at the second-most popular language by country. There French takes the lead, followed by Spanish, German, and Portuguese.

 

Tags: language, colonialismtechnology, diffusion, culture, English.

Source: qz.com

Questions to Ponder: What role do colonial history and modern economics play in shaping this linguistic data? How does migration influence patterns in bilingualism?  What is a lingua franca?

This Sheep Is Mapping The Faroe Islands By Wandering Around With A Camera

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.”

Source: www.fastcoexist.com

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.

 

Tags: google, mapping, cartography, technology, Denmark,

A More Accurate World Map Wins Prestigious Japanese Design Award

“To design a map of the world is no easy task. Because maps represent the spherical Earth in 2D form, they cannot help but be distorted, which is why Greenland and Antarctica usually look far more gigantic than they really are, while Africa appears vastly smaller than its true size. The AuthaGraph World Map tries to correct these issues, showing the world closer to how it actually is in all its spherical glory.”

Source: mentalfloss.com

This just shows how subjective the concept of “accurate” can be. First off, this is a fabulous map that nicely minimizes distortions (distance, direction, area, and shape) of the land on our planet. Any criticism of the map just shows the impossibility of making an accurate 2D map of a 3D Earth, but I still think that there is plenty of room to discuss the flaws/distortions that were chosen instead of others. It is interesting to note that a Japanese contest awarded this map with it’s top honor (I doubt a Brazilian organization would feel the same way about this map). This map does make with some traditional cartographic conventions in its representation of Earth.  

 

Questions to Ponder: What are some elements of this map that are different from more traditional maps? This map claims to be more accurate; does that make it more useful?    

 

Tags: visualization, mapping, cartography, geospatial, technology.

Growth of underwater cables that power the web

“The map above, created with data from Telegeography, shows how those cables have developed since 1990. Most existing cables were constructed during a period of rapid growth in the mid-2000’s. This was followed by a gap of several years during which companies steadily exhausted the available capacity. Over the last few years, explosive new demand, driven by streaming video, has once again jumpstarted the the construction of new cables.”

Source: qz.com

Twenty years ago, people were still connecting to the internet with a dial-up connection through their modem (if you don’t know what that sounds like, this was once the sound of interconnectivity).  People focus on cell phones, tablets, and cool gadgets when discussing the digital transformation of globalization, but it all rests on the infrastructure of the global connectivity that is mapped out here.  Even still, global trade rests on the back of container ships moving manufactured goods from far-flung factories to major markets.

 

Tags: technology, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

“Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny. Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.”

Source: discovermagazine.com

Jared Diamond wrote this highly controversial essay back in the 80’s and it still can elicit strong reactions from anthropologists, geographers, historians, and other scholars.  This is a good reading to give students during an agricultural unit.  This can get students to question many of the assumptions about humanity that they probably never knew they had (Diamond challenged the mainstream progressivist position).

 

Questions to Ponder: What is the progressivist view?  What were the negative impacts that early agriculture had on human health?  What social problems does Diamond attribute to agriculture?  What evidence would you present to argue against Diamond’s position?

 

Tagsagriculturefolk culturestechnologyindigenous.

Drones and Geospatial Data

Without sophisticated sensor packages, drones would just be expensive RC airplanes. In this video, Avweb looks at some of the things they can carry.

Source: www.youtube.com

This video gets deep into the specs of sensor packages and the commercial side of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), but it shows how emerging technologies are using and creating geographic data.  This is also a reminder that geography can be incredibly useful in a diverse range of economic sectors and has far-reaching applications in the real world–geography can be incredibly cutting edge.      

 

Tags: geospatial, video, technology.

Cotton Candy Grapes?!?

Source: www.grapery.biz

After years of seeing fruit-flavored candy, we are now seeing candy-flavored fruit. The company Grapery is very careful to highlight that these patented fruit varieties are not GMOs, but the cotton candy flavored grapes are cross pollinated by hand (by fruit geneticists). You can watch this 4 minute CBS video about the agricultural production and marketing of this new product. Yes, I’ve experimented with these at a friend’s house, and they really do taste like cotton candy (and no, I’m not planning on purchasing any).     

 

Questions to Ponder: Does this make you leery about eating this or totally excited to try it? How come?  Why is the company so adamant to state that these grapes are non-GMO? According to the video, what are the primary concerns of most grape producers and how does that contrast with this company?  

  

Tagsfood, food production, agribusiness, agriculture, GMOstechnology.

Stop opposing GMOs, Nobel laureates say

It’s the latest sign of a rift between the scientific establishment and anti-GMO activists.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Environmental activists are often frustrated when climate change skeptics do not listen to the scientific consensus that the Earth’s climate has changed because of humanity’s collective actions.  On the flip side, some environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus that GMOs are safe for human consumption.  Both have been highly politicized and tap into larger narratives that confirm particular world views.  Most of the opposition to GMOs is not because of the information that is out there, but the fear of the unknown that GMOs illicit.  

 

Tags: GMOs, technology, agriculture, agribusiness.

       

VIDEO: Saving the art of mapmaking

“If you’re heading out on the road for your vacation this year, you’ll probably get directions from a GPS or navigational system. Does that mean that the traditional map is a relic of the past? Mark Albert hits the road to find out.”

Source: www.cbsnews.com

This video is designed for a general news audience and it nicely shows the public how cartography is not rendered unimportant in the era of digital maps, but has become all the more useful.  I could see this video as useful resource to share with parents who are worried that studying geography won’t lead to careers.  

 

Tags: GIS, video, mapping, cartography, geospatial, technology.

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