Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just really interesting! Geographically interesting that is!

Just really interesting! ... and useful for the classroom

A fun music video but something to get students thinking that geographers are indeed different! Yes we are!! … and that geography is unique as a way at looking at the world.

Another site of geography (physical geography) songs from students. Music and geography as an approach seems to be getting popular!!

* Great views from above
Aerial photo tour across countries and continents with a French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. As a geographer the patterns, shapes and colours are wonderful to see – and we see so much within such visions.

* Most surreal places on earth  Amazing photographs from around the world. You would swear thay have been Photoshopped, but apparently no!
* Gun deaths mapped in the US.
A great interactive map over time of gun deaths in the US.

The Samaritans, a rapidly dwindling sect dating to biblical times, have opened their insular community to brides imported from Eastern Europe in a desperate quest to preserve their ancient culture
* TEDGlobal has been held in Oxford, England; Arusha, Tanzania; Mysore, India; and Edinburgh, Scotland — with speakers from a wide range of other countries. In other words, it’s a global affair. As we prepare for TEDGlobal 2013: “Think Again,” kicking off on June 10, we thought we’d take a closer look. Go around the world in less than 180 minutes with TEDGlobal talks.
This is an excellent suite of images in a photo essay showing urban development in Florida.  These collectively can be used to accentuate the "human-environmental interactions" theme of geography. 
* What the? The burning man festival  A modern cultural happening

* A fact a day site: great lesson starters

* Endangered cultures
TED Talks with stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spatial sharing

Image above: Incredibly mesmerizing animated GIF is what the Internet looks like.
You are looking at, more or less, a portrait of the Internet over an average 24 hours in 2012. Higher usage is in yellows and reds; lower in greens and blues - as day and night passes across.

Related links
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

GeogSplace blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact:  


Where am I??  

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

You think you have seen something 'speccie', what about ... ?

The sharing culture is alive and well in the world of geographers interested in the spatial and beyond. I continue to be amazed by the number of ‘things’ spatial which continue to turn up on the Internet on a daily basis. Every time I think I must have exhausted the treasure chest of maps, visualisations and geographically interesting ‘bits and pieces’, someone says, "have you seen ...". Sure enough it is a treasure that I have not seen and am rather excited to see. This sense of sharing (I will show you mine if ...) takes me back to the days of stamp collecting when we were young, when we swapped something treasured for something even better! It seems to be repeatedly happening to me as I pass on some great sites only to have other fantastic sites passed back in reciprocation. Like a chain letter, the people who harvest the site from me via my blogs and the GTASA website newsletter 'spam' (which I have harvested via colleagues, Google Groups, Twitter, Scoop.It and blogs), then pass them on to others and it continues until the community of geographers around the world have shared. Then it starts all over again tomorrow as another site is sent out into cyberspace to share. I thought in this posting I would put up some of the beaut sites that I have come across lately, that I know have had a life with others who have then used them in their teaching and passed them on to others. So here are some of my recent favourites.

 Great visualisations

You are looking at, more or less, a portrait of the Internet over an average 24 hours in 2012—higher usage in yellows and reds; lower in greens and blues—created by an anonymous researcher for the "Internet Census 2012" project.

Interactive Visualization of the Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2050.

Prezi in an online alternative to powerpoint for displaying notes and lecture materials (noted for it's ability to see the whole picture, zoom in and it's rotating animations).  Prezi is free for educators and the presentations you made can be kept private or made public.  This Prezi outlines the 4 stages of the Demographic Transition Model, with historical and spatial context

 ... and from the master of visualisations, Hans Rosling 

Interesting maps of ... for ... ?

Amazing tracking site using spatial technologies.

analyze the spatial and temporal patterns of the expansion of women's political rights.  This interactive map is excellent for seeing these few metrics, but a more expanded dataset with maps concerning gender (in)equality in the world and the status of women is WomanStats.  http://womanstats.org/

The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women's status in 174 countries. Our Database expands daily, and access to it is free of charge

Most students have Facebook accounts...what is geographic distribution of their networks? What explains these patterns? Looking at personal life histories and geographies would be an easy way to make spatial analysis intensely personal and relevant.  They are on social media; they just need to be prodded to start using it for intellectual pursuits as well

* A surprising map of the countries that are most and least welcoming to foreigners    Can we see any patterns? Is there a correlation between unfriendliness to foreigners and nationalism.

 A map that show Mother's Day celebration dates around the world. The Mother's Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in May, though also celebrated in March in some countries, as a day to honour mothers and motherhood.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just geography!!

Image above: An aerial view of a terraced rice field in China and download free wallpaper from National Geographic.

Words are not required

Click here to see some images related to birth, settlement, people, survival and ... beautiful, awe-inspiring, frightening, puzzling and just geography. 

42 stunning photographs on things related to (over) population. What can one say when a picture is worth a 1000 words? It is worth even more if the geographical questions of what? where? how? why? and so what? are asked over and over when looking at the photographs. I set my students the task to select the three photographs they found the most interesting, personally and geographically.  They all came up with different choices, chosen for different reasons and with very different ways of looking at the same images.

My three were:

Delhi India. Wall to wall people!

People gather to get water from a huge well in the village of Natwarghad in the western Indian state of Gujarat

A terrace of codonopsis pilosula, a traditional Chinese medicine also known as dang shen, in Min county, Gansu province in China.

Related links
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

GeogSplace blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact


Where am I??
Sydney: S: 34º 0' E: 151º 0'

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Geoinformation galore

Image above: Where the hell is Matt? Matthew "Matt" Harding (born September 27, 1976), is a traveller, video game designer, and Internet celebrity known as Dancing Matt for his viral videos that show him dancing in front of landmarks and street scenes in various international locations

Geoinformation is the name of the game

Information galore can be gained through trawling the Internet for Infographics, maps, video, simulations and cartoons on all things geographical. No longer are books our key source of information. Whilst books continue to be important sources of the academic and published, most of the population, including students are now getting their information from other sources.  The Internet based sources do much of the translation of the information into the forms of infographics, maps, videos and blogs. Such translation of information requires increased levels of critical literacy by the viewer/reader to weed out bias and false interpretation. To highlight the fantastic geoinformation sources out there for us to view, here are just some. They are all concise, many visual and all easy to interpret.  

* Economic inequalityinfographic

* James Bond travel map
Where in the world has 007 been in his 30 movies? If that's a question you've always wanted to know, then this set of maps was made just for you

* Human Development Index: This video shows the basic concept of HDI (Human Development Index), by using four different examples (Japan, Mexico, India and Angola).

* Saudi Arabia is drilling for a resource possibly moreprecious than oil.  Change over space
Over the last 24 years, it has tapped hidden reserves of water to grow wheat and other crops in the Syrian Desert. This time series of data shows images acquired by three different Landsat satellites operated by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.

Learn how advances in geospatial technology and analytical methods have changed how we do everything, and discover how to make maps and analyze geographic patterns using the latest tools.

This video is a good way to introduce the discipline of geography and the class subject matter.  While geography may appear to be eclectic sets of random knowledge, it is that spatial component that binds the various sub-disciplines as a coherent whole

* Migrations map
Interactive migrations map: where are migrants coming from? Where haev migrants left?

* A new way to illuminate inequality around the world. A way to know where the poor live? Look at where the light is?
The geography of religion, even in an era of secularization, is still a powerful  indicator of many patterns of human geography.  What is the religious profile of your state?  What is the spatial distribution of the religious tradition with which you identify?  What explains those spatial patterns?
Mapping a survey of rankings from a variety of sources

Monday, March 11, 2013

From above!

 Image above: On October 24, 1946, not long after the end of World War II and years before the Sputnik satellite opened the space age, a group of soldiers and scientists in the New Mexico desert saw something new and wonderful—the first pictures of Earth as seen from space.

Never in all their history have men been able truly to conceive of the world as one: a single sphere, a globe, having the qualities of a globe, a round earth in which all the directions eventually meet, in which there is no center because every point, or none, is center — an equal earth which all men occupy as equals. The airman's earth, if free men make it, will be truly round: a globe in practice, not in theory.

Archibald MacLeish, May 1942.

The technology of the 20th Century set in motion the age of seeing the Earth from above in all its spatial glory, an age which has changed the population’s perception of the Earth they live on.  I have frequently been fascinated by the change in spatial literacy and perceptions created by the 20th Century capacity to view the Earth from above. Before the age of flight and the space age, the only way we perceived the Earth from above was through the projection of maps, otherwise we had a ground level view of our world. If we were lucky we could ascend to the top of a tall building but our view was limited to the horizon (the horizontal, as opposed to the vertical view) and the true dimensions of the Earth were not evident. Traditionally geographers created maps to provide a birds-eye view of the Earth and increasingly in the 20th Century aerial imagery from aircraft was used. When satellite imagery began to be available in the 1950’s, a new world of ‘from above’ views of the Earth commenced. Even then, it was primarily geographers, governments and industry who used these images. With the advent of the Internet and programs such as Google Earth and Google Maps, we now have readily available a plethora of views of our planet from above. Some call this the democratisation of geography, the community all being geographers! It is no longer just the geographer using remote sensed images but the community has them readily available and use them repeatedly to find out what they require. News broadcast, documentaries, films, websites, sporting events and many other areas of community activity use ‘from above’ images so that they now have become just part of our lifestyle. There is now an expectation by the community that they should be able to be informed by viewing ‘from above’ images.
My question is, what has this changed view of our Earth done to our perception of the place we live? In fact, some argue that this change of spatial perception has been a great contributor to the concepts of globalisation, environmentalism and the perception of a world of diminishing size. If nothing so grand, it surely has changed our spatial perception? The community now has the eye on the world from above and nothing cannot be seen across space. In the past it was primarily geographers who could comprehend and analyse remote sensed images from planes and satellites, now it seems that it is just a life skill for all. As a geographer I see this as a great thing and makes one consider the role geography in schools needs to play to support the communities use of these very geographical tools.

The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth, taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometres
Counterculture activists had been among the first to cherish these images as icons of a new global consciousness. The Apollo 17 image, however, released during a surge in environmental activism during the 1970s, was acclaimed by the wide public as a depiction of Earth's frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. NASA archivist Mike Gentry has speculated that The Blue Marble is the most widely distributed image in human history.

The following quotes from commentators and those involved in the space age are enlightening to see what they thought the initial images they saw from above our earth did to their perception of life on Earth.

"Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose."
Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948. 

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
 Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 astronaut

"Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there."
— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut

"As I looked down, I saw a large river meandering slowly along for miles, passing from one country to another without stopping. I also saw huge forests, extending along several borders. And I watched the extent of one ocean touch the shores of separate continents. Two words leaped to mind as I looked down on all this: commonality and interdependence. We are one world".
John-David Bartoe  Spacelab astronaut

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth".
William Anders Apollo 8 astronaut

 For the geography classroom

One of the great boons for geography in schools is that we have readily available a plethora of amazing images from above the earth to use in our teaching. The following few sites are just some that help students see the Earth from above in the most exciting way.  Maps still have a critical place as the purveyors of information but the images we can use certainly add colour, dimension and depth to our perception of the earth and student spatial perception.


A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night.
Britain from Above presents the unique Aerofilms collection of aerial photographs from 1919-1953.
A wonderful resource on Australia from above from the ABC.

* Amazing video views from the International Space Station at night

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Geography play and paraphenalia

Image above: A fire brace using the world to ...

Related links

Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

GeogSplace blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact:  


Where am I??  

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

 Map porn comes in many shapes and sizes

In a recent Spatialworlds posting the so called world of Map porn was explored. This term is commonly defined as using images, maps and things to stimulate geographically but with no real use. Whilst a contentious view, I thought it worth looking at two other areas of geographical things under this rather suspect and highly inappropriate label. The nomenclature involves remote sensed images and the paraphernalia of geographical orientated things becoming available to buy or just view.  

Remote sensing play involves the looking at aerial and satellite images for basically visual stimulation. The leading area of remote sensing play are the number of ways we can use Google Earth and Google maps to stimulate the senses, often in an artistic way. Have a look at the following sites playing in this area.

* Spatial toys: These mazes gets people to use spatial cognition to understand the overall pattern. For tactile students, this is a great item to have in a classroom.
 Geographical paraphenalia

* Magical composites of the earth

All I can say after viewing this lot, us geographers are a strange and some would say sad bunch ... but why not play with all things geographical for pure pleasure!