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The Final Take-Home Exam for Geography 222 brings together a saucy crap load of mappish delights from your 3rd favorite class this semester, The Power of Maps and GIS.
Final Exam: Total of 100 poignant points.
Question 1: Map Projections: write 1.5 pages + 3 maps (30 pts)
The process of map projection transforms the surface of the spherical earth into a flat, 2D surface. As discussed in lecture and in the Making Maps 2nd ed. book, there are an infinite number of ways to project maps, and every different map projection distorts something: areas, angles, directions, distances, etc. The goal is to select a map projection that doesn't distort some vital aspect of your data. For example, if you have data that is spread over areas (vegetation types, urbanized areas, land in cultivation) you don't want to distort areas. So use an equal area map projection.
With the increase in mapping and GIS applications, you may someday have to make a decision about which map projection to use. Probably not, but maybe. This question requires you to select an appropriate map projection given a specific defined use of a map.
Sources of additional information on map projections which may be useful for this project can be found in the class readings (Making Maps, chapter 5) and at the following sites:
For this question, choose three different map projections from the Kartograph site (pop up menu) and provide the following information for each. Your best option for learning about any of the Kartograph projections will probably be the reference sources above, the Making Maps book, or a good old Google Search.
Question 2: Map Symbols: write about 2 pages w/eight symbols (20 pts.)
Map symbols represent stuff in the real world based on relationship, resemblance, or convention. Examples of these three different categories of map symbols are shown on page 172-173 of the Making Maps 2nd Ed. book.
Cite the source of the map symbols you use.
Different Maps of Home: Introduction
Maps are not merely images of the human and natural environment. Indeed, they are selective and only partial representations, shaped by the human and social context within which the maps were created.
Yet maps allow us to see things in a unique manner, and learn about places and what happens in them in a way other media (words, numbers, etc.) don't allow.
The key to understanding maps is that they always involve tradeoffs - we put up with shape or area distortions of a map projection to be able to see the entire Earth all at once, for example.
Recall the following quote from Monmonier's book:
One way we can grasp the complex nature of maps is to critically examine and compare different maps of the same place. It is vital to ground-truth such maps: compare what they show to what we know about the actual places the maps represent.
In this exercise you will ground-truth several different maps of the same place - your home. Sometimes maps help you learn new things about a place - things you didn't know despite having lived experience in the place. Other times maps are limiting - not showing things you know are important about a particular place, or showing them in such a way that is limiting or even deceptive. Regarding Monmonier's quote above, you should also be aware that there are many things - toxic waste sites, health statistics, etc., that can be either difficult or impossible to find on maps.
You will use multiple maps of your home in this exercise (many of which you already created in previous exercises). You will compare, contrast, and comment on these different maps, many of the "same" place: the area around your home, and all focused on something or somewhere that is important to you. The main point is to get some sense of how maps represent the world and to ground truth these different representations given your personal, lived experiences.
Question 3: Your USGS Topo Map as Biography: write 2 pages (20 pts)
Harley's point is that you can read the map as a biography - actually many kinds of biography - including your own.
After reading Harley's article, compose a 2-3 page personal biography based on your USGS topographic map. This should start with your impressions of the map, what struck you about it when you first saw it. Please be as creative as you want with this question.
International students: Please feel free to use a map of your actual home for this part of the exercise: it can be a map you found in one of the previous exercises, or one you found on the web. Just make sure it is detailed enough to show streets, neighborhoods, etc. Ask me if you have questions about an appropriate map.
Question 4: What Maps Show and Don't Show: write 2 pages (20 pts)
All maps are selective and a partial representation of "reality" - topographic maps or Google maps. But it is important to ponder what kind of information is on the map, and which information is left off the map. For example, should information about toxic waste and other human-created environmental hazards be included on Google maps? You can search for pizza, Apple Stores, and wig shops, but not toxic waste locations. The data is easily available in digital form, yet... it's not on the map. Huh.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides such information at their EnviroFacts WWW site:
Write one page in reaction to the quote at the beginning of this exercise. Are Google (or other online) maps ideological because of their silences about certain important aspects of our environment? Should toxic sites be included on Google maps? Why aren't they? Who might oppose including such information on such basic detailed maps? Who might support it?
Question 5: Bonus Question: write .01 pages (1 pt)
Question 6: Thoughts on "The Power of Maps": write 2 pages (10 pts)
Discuss your personal development over the semester: what have you learned? Comment on both your intellectual/conceptual and technical (mapping, digital submissions) development.
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