Geography 222 The Power of Maps Geog 222 Main Page and Course Description Geog 222 Syllabus Geog 222 Course Schedule Geog 222 Exercises

Geog 222 Exercise 7: Map Your Own Data

Worth 100 points

Revised: 4/24/15

Exercise 7: Map Your Own Data

ASSIGNED in class Monday November 9
MEET in class Wednesday November 11: Working groups & potential topics
MEET Friday November 13: Groups meet with instructor (in class) to confirm Exercise 7 plans
DUE Friday November 13 at noon: Share or email 1 Page Description of Project & Data (see description of what I need in Exercise 7)
DUE by email Wednesday November 18 at Noon: Project URL
DUE By 9:02 am Friday December 4: Exercise 7 Due
PRESENT Monday December 7 & Wednesday December 9: In-Class Presentation of Project

Exercise Worth: 100 pts

Student Maps, Spring 2015:

For most of the history of the map, a few people made maps and a much larger number used them. Map-making evolved into a highly skilled profession with an array of theoretical, technical, and practical facets that precluded most people from making more than sketch and hand-drawn maps.

With the development of GIS software and web mapping, some people heralded the dawn of popular mapping: anyone with internet access could be a mapmaker. Geography 222 exercises focus on the diversity of maps you can make on the web.

But there is a bit of a problem: you are making maps with other people's data. The U.S. Census Bureau's data, MapQuest's data, Delaware County GIS Office's data, NationMaster's data, and so on: what other people and organizations think is important.

So what about mapping your own data? We did this in the first class exercise (psychogeography). Cool and interesting. But howabout mapping your own data with current internet mapping technology? If you can map your own data you can map what matters to you, or your organization, or your company, or your family, or your friends. Indeed, making your own maps with your own data means you are liberated from the confines of what other people think is important (and thus what data is made available) about the world.

A map your own data revolution has started on several fronts, driven by technology, in particular Google Earth (and it's KMZ files), the ease of creating a map mashup using Google Maps (and an increasing number of other web mapping sites), and easy access to GPS for collecting your own data. We already did some Google Earth area calculations and address matching (or geocoding) in Lab 4 with the BatchGeoCode web site which is, in essence, mapping your own data.

In addition to geocoding, the map "mash-up" is a vital tool in the map your own data revolution. In general, a mashup is just putting different stuff together. Music mashups splice and overlay segments of different songs that, in combination, become a new song. Map mashups do the same thing: combining geographic data and maps from multiple sources into a new map. Both music and map mashups are greatly enabled by digital technology, although they existed long before software and computers.

Enabling the whole map mashup phenomena are open APIs. An API (Application programming interface) is just a bunch of programming tools for building new applications on the web.

More on APIs:

Google provides access to their Google Maps API that allows anyone to combine their data with Google Maps as the background. While relatively simple, Google Maps API still requires a bit of effort (signing up for a free API key which allows you to create mashups with Google Maps, and some HTML scripting). It also requires that you have geographic data, points, lines, and areas, in latitude/longitude, and specify these locations in the HTML code. The benefit is that anyone anywhere with web access can see your data mapped out with a Google Maps background.

Below find a simple map mashup made from the Google KMZ files you created and sent to me as part of Exercise 4:

Google has an even easier way to make basic map mashups. They called it My Maps, then changed it to Google Maps Engine. Now it's My Maps again. Go figure. Google My Maps allows you to place points, lines, and areas directly on a Google Map background, and annotate these features with text, images, and movies. As you are on screen locating features, the accuracy may be a bit off, but you can use a Google Maps search to more precisely locate things, and transfer the points to your map. All maps created with My Maps are private, but you can make them publicly accessible by changing the permissions.

One could critique the "power" of making maps with My Maps: you are in essence sticking a few marker, line, or area symbols on a Google Map: most of the map (all the background stuff) is Google's. It's their stage you are making your map upon. Also, these map mashups tend to all look the same, a cartographic monoculture.

Alas, Google's My Maps and other map mashup APIs allow just about anyone to map their own geographic data onto existing geographic data (such as Google Maps). The process can be simple or complex, resulting in a few points located on a map to sophisticated projects with thousands of data points, lines, and areas. While still in its infancy, map mashup technology greatly extends the potential of popular mapping.

Goals: This exercise uses Google's My Maps feature to create your own personal map mash-up, focused on somewhere and something of your choice that better be damn interesting. You will add your own point, line, and area data to Google Maps and make a publicly viewable map mashup. You will also link text, photos, and/or movies to these locations. You may work in groups or on your own (groups need to do more substantial projects). You may, if you insist, do a boring topic, but you must pay me $3.


1) Group yourselves.

2) You need a Gmail Account Best to use one group member's OWU Google account, and share the map with the other group members. You can also crate a new gmail account and all share the login information.

3) Think about some potential topics. Your data should be stuff that is locatable at points, along lines, or in areas. It should not be boring. It should be things you don't normally see on maps. Don't make a map of all the McDonalds around Delaware. You can do that by googling McDonalds! Boring!

Given that this exercise is worth 100 points I urge you to engage in a serious mapping project. I suggest something interesting around OWU or Delaware - this will get you out and having kilos of fun, frolicking about the dulcet landscapes of central Ohio. There are some good examples of this in the map examples below.

Review the examples below from previous semesters. Some are crapola, but others - particularly those that are more creative - are truly not crap. The examples along with input from your instructor will help you develop your own project ideas.

Some of the links below don't work - either student's deleted their accounts or the changes from My Maps to Map Engine to My Maps screwed them up. You can, at least, see the topics.

Student Maps, Fall 2014:

Student Maps, Spring 2014:

Student Maps, Fall 2013:

Student Maps, Fall 2012:

Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2012:

Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2011:

More Examples: Student Maps, Spring 2011:

More Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2010:

More Examples: Student Maps, Spring 2010:

  • More Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2009:

  • More Examples: Student Maps, Spring 2009:

  • More Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2008:

  • More Examples: Student Maps, Spring 2008:

  • More Examples: Student Maps, Fall 2007:

  • More examples: Student Maps, Spring 2007:

    Be creative and have fun, please. Please. Talk to me if you want to discuss your ideas.

    Project Proposal: Please type up in an email (and send to me) the following for each project by the due date noted above:

    Making your Map Instructions:

    4) Map your own data!

    What is Due

    Each group please turn in the following by 5pm the day prior to the project due date:

    Remember that we will take some class time to demo and discuss the results of this exercise on the day it is due.


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