Geography 222 The Power of Maps

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Geog 222 Exercise 7: Map Your Own Data

Worth 100 points

Revised: 4/24/14

ASSIGNED in class Monday April 7
MEET in class Monday April 7: Working groups & potential topics
MEET Wednesday April 9 & Friday April 11: Groups meet with instructor (in class) to confirm Exercise 7 plans
DUE Friday April 11 at noon: Email 1 Page Description of Project & Data (see description of what I need in Exercise 7)
DUE by email Thursday April 24 at 9 pm: Project URL and writeup
DUE By 9am Friday April 25: In-Class Presentation of Project
DUE Monday April 28 & Wednesday April 30 : In-Class Presentation of Project


Student Maps, Spring 2014:



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, called Google Maps Engine (lite). This replaces the old My Maps which did more or less the same thing. Google Map Engine 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 Map Engine are private, but you can make them publicly accessible by changing the permissions.

One could critique the "power" of making maps with Map Engine: 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 Map Engine 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 Map's new Map Engine 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).



Procedure:

1) Decide if you are going to work in a group or on your own. Group project have to be more substantial than individual projects.


2) You need a Gmail Account You can use your OWU Google account, but I strongly suggest (if you are working in a group) that you create a new account. That way you can all share the account and login without giving anyone access to your personal account.


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 normal maps. Don't make a map of all the McDonalds around Delaware. You can do that by googling McDonalds! Boring!

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!


Each person should generate 20-30 annotated placemarks/lines/shapes on a map. Thus if you are working in a group of two, you need thirty placemarks/lines/shapes. Include photos in at least three of the locations (I can assist you in preparing your images and placing them on the internet). If you do more time intensive stuff - like shooting custom videos at each location on your map - you can have fewer sites on your map. Ask me, talk to me, bounce ideas off of me.



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.


E-mail: jbkrygier@owu.edu

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