Monday, October 1, 2012

More than a blog map!

More than a blog map!  Made for spatial analysis.

The programs Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps are some of the fabulous representations of data available free to website and blog site managers.  The Spatialworlds blog has been using these programs as gadgets to log and represent usage of the site for the past 18 months.  The Spatialworlds blog has had over 11488 hits and over 52 000 pageviews from 135 countries in that time.  As I repeatedly look at and review the Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps on the front page of the Spatialworlds site, I have started to think that these maps are a really a great opportunity to undertake some spatial analysis in line with the Space concept from the Australian Curriculum: Geography as previously discussed on this blog.  The curriculum defines the concept of Space as:

“Geographers think spatially: they examine location, and the distribution and pattern of human and natural features, and they engage with the spatial arrangement of those features.”

The Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps offer the opportunity to explore distribution and patterns through the location and quantification of the hits on the site from around the worlds.  The Revolver map of October 2012 displayed above shows;
  • high concentration of hits in Europe, US, India, New Zealand Phillipines, Japan 
  • greatest concentration of hits in Eastern US 
  • moderate hit levels in Eastern Central South America and Eastern South Africa
  • linear representation of hits on the eastern side of Australia and Africa
  • large vacant spaces in Central, Western and Northern South America, Central and Northern Africa, Central and Western Australia, and Northern North America
  • minimal ‘hit activity’ or distribution spread in China and Russia.

Adding the quantifiable representation of dot maps provided by the Revolver Maps data bases and the ClustrMaps dot map (shown above), we observe that the greatest number of hits come from the US, Canada, UK, India, South Africa

Such analysis of the distribution and frequency of hits provided by the maps leads to the next opportunity for meaningful spatial analysis; to use the geographical skill I referred to as the 'whyabouts’ (for the geographer to ask questions related to the Why of the Where?) in a previous Spatialworlds skills posting. This skill involves asking questions such as why:
  • the high hit levels in Eastern US, Europe and along the coast of Eastern Australia
  • so few hits and lack of distribution in China and Russia
  • so few hits in most of Africa and Western South America
  • the blog is so popular in the Phillipines, India and only parts of South America.

It is not the purpose of this blog to definitively answer these ‘whyabouts’ questions but it can be said that the answers to these questions are to be found in the exploration of political, physical, social, development and economic geography of these places of the globe. To find possible reasons for the distribution and frequency of such representations would be an interesting and meaningful classroom exercise/assignment for students.

Through the eyes of a geographer, such representation of hits created by the Revolver Maps and ClustrMaps programs show much more than just the spread of technology around the world. Through the patterns, distribution and frequency of the representations, the programs tell us quite a lot about the physical and cultural nature of the places of our earth. These representations many of us use and enjoy looking at are a rich resource to view the concept of not only Space but also Place for students.

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