I have been writing a lot lately. Not here, because...well...you know. That would make sense. Instead, my buckets of wordy wisdom (read here as "word vomit") have been devoted to blog posts on behalf of the company for which I work. Recently, I came across an article during one of our campaigns that I felt the need to elaborate on here. I mean, I have been wanting to drum up the actual "geo"-related content in this girl's adventures after all.
The 19 "Awesome" Geovisualization Tools for Beautiful Maps
An article originally posted by the awesome Geoawesomeness details 19 geovisualization tools, APIs, and libraries that serve in amping up your web map creation game. It is a great list full of contenders like Esri, Tableau, Mapbox, D3.js, Leaflet, and the like. It paints a pretty picture when it comes to determining what resources are out there for your web wandering. The problem? Well, it is more of a personal problem.
It finally happened (and only took three years), but I made a trip to visit graffiti mecca. Better late than never, right?
Austin, TX -- a city in this vast state with one of the biggest personalities -- is home to an artsy culture that makes for fun adventures, no matter the original intent of the trip. One of these havens for artsy aficionados, or really anyone in general, is the Graffiti Park at Castle Hill. Answering to quite a few names -- HOPE Outdoor Gallery, Castle Hill Graffiti, Artists Anonymous (oh wait, maybe that's just one I'm trying to start..."That's so fetch," anyone?...Anyone?!) -- the location itself is one of the most successful public arts projects in Texas.
There are some facts about the person typing this to which only a select few are privy. One of these facts? My immense love of lattes from Cafe Brasil...OK, so this may not be a heavily guarded secret since the lovely ladies who work there can recite my order as soon as I groggily prance in.
One of my favorite things about this coffee shop is its support for local art and an ever-changing cycle of pieces lining its walls. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of shops in this city that encourage this kind of community - but then again, not all of them have my order memorized...yet. With that being said, I was more than pleasantly surprised this past week to come in and find maps...yes, maps...in all their glory on the brick and mortar. Maps, you guys.
WE, Water, Earth - A Data Visualization and Mapping Exhibition
As it turns out, these pieces are a product of students from the University of Houston, College of Architecture and Design (UH COAD). Architecture and Design. Not GIS.
Lovelies, I sincerely thought my caffeine-deprived haze had transformed itself into hallucinations at this point. It's like a nerdy academic dream of mine come true. After getting in touch with one of the students who took part in the project, I can honestly say my jealousy over such an education has skyrocketed. Yes, I get jealous of people's coursework. There is no such thing as nerd shame.
Although not the GIS-centric or art-revolving -- or strange mutant hybrid of the two -- rantings typically associated with this blog, I've decided to write this here primarily for lack of space elsewhere. When I got to three pages of notes in preparation for this, I knew there was no way in the home of Hades that this was simply going to be a Facebook post. Anyway, now that this has been said...let's continue.
(WELL, "PROBLEM" IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.)
I remember the first time I saw real street art. Not gang tags, or the markings of a kid who just figured out what he could do with a can of spray paint...but true art with meaning and intention surrounding it.
Well, well, well...Long time, no write. Obviously, from this post, you can surmise that GeoGirl is out adventuring and not so much in hiding. Anymore, anyway. I'm back -- not in black -- and have new tales for you, my dears.
Recently, I ventured out to the EnerGIS conference to talk on utilizing Web Applications in your GIS. Of course, using applications aren't exactly a new thing, but as is the world in every aspect (for instance -- marriage, cleaning, showering, etc.), everyone does their own thing at their own pace. This wasn't a very technical talk. Although it was done primarily for an audience whose careers revolve around various Energy sectors, the takeaways are non-specific to industry. They deal primarily with how to approach the functionality of your apps, as opposed to what is actually in them. Here's to hoping this can do someone somewhere some good, even if it's just to encourage them to make some killer maps...or pay us to. *insert obligatory wink here*
So what is it we're talking about today? Oh, wait, let me check my notes...
Returning to my roots for this post (in more ways than one), I am going to explore the inevitable (although often overlooked) combination of creating maps and designing them. For those of you who just raised your eyebrow at me, they are not one in the same. Creating a map is giving your what a where. In its simplest forms, it is spatially grounding your data, giving the who's, what's, and how's a place to stay. It doesn't have to be for a business or really anything that matters. You could create a map of all the places Clemson University's football team has won games - see, content doesn't have to matter. Designing a map, on the other hand, is giving thought to how the end user, your audience, will perceive it. It is establishing a layout that both allows adequate room for the data whether it be the map itself or any written explanation as well as guides the viewer from start to end with no fuss. It is using tricks to place the most focus on the highest things of importance. It is putting yourself in the shoes of the audience and realizing how to make them see what you want them to see. It is something that should be used, and much like art in itself, is subject to criticism.
As promised in Part 1 of this AGOL series and a little overdue (a month between updates is pretty good, right? Wouldn't want to overwhelm you with all this mindblowing blogging), I now deliver to you, the uninterested and possibily nonexistent reader, the grand Utility Approach. This post will discuss three ways an industry could apply AGOL for their organization, focusing in particular on an organization I interned for this past year. Although this distinct case might not be an example of what I was blabbering about in Part 1.
Warning: This post is going to be a little (ok, a lot) less about design than the previous posts. There also aren't any pictures unfortunately - sorry, kiddos.
To kick off a two-post AGOL series (really it's just to avoid packing, let's be real), I'm going to talk about the consumers using GIS and suggest ways they can approach "the cloud". For those of you who haven't heard about ArcGIS Online or have heard of it and just don't understand what it is, let's go into a little background. AGOL is one of the newest intros to the ArcGIS platform. Rather than relying on paper maps you've produced in ArcMap, AGOL allows you to host that data in the cloud and share it with whomever you wish - your group, your organization, even your mom. You maintain all the rights to the data and maps hosted there. As an added bonus (which is really the coolest thing about AGOL) is that it allows you to utilize different apps - like ArcGIS Collector for mobile updates, Operations Dashboard for simultaneously viewing maps and analyzing the data, and Story Map templates for displaying your data with a narrative.
Choosing symbology for maps can sometimes be a tricky business. When you're plotting the location of restaurants along a route, it's pretty simple - You really only need points since the people viewing it are likely starving. But...what about in cases of emergency? You want something clear and concise, that immediately allows its audience to tell what they're looking at without having to heavily rely on a legend. In cases of fire, it's no different.
The Rim Fire in Yosemite has a been a hot topic here in California lately. Disregarding the bad pun, it really is a huge deal, and there's been a lot of attention placed on how best to alert those it might affect - both within the company I work for and without. There's been a lot of trial and error in general - some of these resulting in some best practices, and consequently, worse.
Meet the Mastermind
Technical Writer Extraordinaire. Cartographer and Art Lover. Hater of fragmented sentences.