The more I work with all-things-spatial, the more I want to infuse this sort of work across campus — maps as data visualizations, spatial context as framing for questions and answers, spatial patterns as answers and questions.
Paideia seemed an excellent opportunity to test-drive some ideas and spread the Gospel of Spatial Framing (or was that The Good Word of The Geospatial?) to an eager and willing audience. A total of 23 people joined me for an hour-long workshop, where we covered what I decided were some necessary basics –
- What is a GIS and, what does it do? What kinds of questions can you ask with a GIS?
- What does geospatial data look like, and how is it different from possibly-more-familiar tabular data?
- Points to ponder when conducting spatial analysis OR when consuming maps:
- distortion, representation and projections/coordinate systems (aka “the orange peel problem”)
- data aggregation (for a clear example of the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem, aka “bins matter”, see these 2012 election results maps)
- normalization (That choropleth you keep using…I do not think it means, what you think it means; one example)
- Relevant technologies, with nods both to Esri’s analytical workhorse ArcGIS (for which we have a site license) and the cross-platform, open-source qGIS
- Two examples of recent GIS projects (environmental studies, political science) and a quick list of current mapping/GIS projects around Reed
I left the students with some links (below) and urged them to contact me to get access to Esri tutorials or just talk maps.
- ArcGIS Online: http://www.arcgis.com/features/maps/index.html
- Esri Storymaps: http://storymaps.esri.com/home/
- Mapbox gallery: https://www.mapbox.com/showcase/#dataviz
- Tilemill gallery: https://www.mapbox.com/tilemill/gallery/
- qGIS Flickr pool: http://www.flickr.com/groups/qgis/pool/
- Esri Flickr pool (UC 2011): http://www.flickr.com/groups/esriuc-mapgallery/
- Cartograms (takes a minute to load): http://maps.esri.com/sldemos/carto/default.html
- City of Portland planning app: http://www.portlandbps.com/gis/cpmapp/
- Reed / Environmental Studies DFS project: https://sge.lclark.edu/dfs/project/carbon-field-studies/
- Wild Fish Conservancy watertyping: http://wildfishconservancy.org/maps
- GIS at Reed: http://www.reed.edu/cis/help/software/gis
- ArcGIS at Reed: http://www.reed.edu/cis/help/software/arcgis
- Terminal Server page: http://www.reed.edu/cis/help/ReedTS.html
- Alternatives to ArcGIS: http://www.reed.edu/cis/help/software/alt-to-arcgis
- qGIS download page: http://www.qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html
- A Gentle Introduction to qGIS: http://www.qgis.org/en/docs/gentle_gis_introduction/index.html
- Learning qGIS, a manual: http://www.packtpub.com/learning-qgis-2-0-to-create-maps-and-perform-geoprocessing-tasks/book
Note: I presented variations on this same material in Pol311 (The Political Science Laboratory; methods class) and Econ352 (Natural Resource Economics) in Fall 2013.