Archive for the ‘General’ Category

New Flickr shapefile public dataset 2.0 (find the esri type .shp here)

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

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An updated version of the Flickr shapefile public dataset (2.0) was released last week. From nils official post:

… We haven’t completely forgotten about shapefiles and have finally gotten around to generating a new batch (read about Alpha Shapes to find out how it’s done). When Aaron did the first run we had somewhere around ninety million (90M) geotagged photos. Today we have over one hundred and ninety million (190M) and that number is growing rapidly. Of course lots of those will fall within the boundaries of the existing shapes and won’t give us any new information, but some of them will improve the boundaries of old shapes, and others will help create new shapes where there weren’t any before. Version 1 of the dataset had shapes for around one hundred and eighty thousand (180K) WOE IDs, and now we have shapes for roughly two hundred and seventy thousand (270K) WOE IDs. Woo. The dataset is available for download today, available for use under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver.

True to it’s claim, the version 2.0 release brings added fidelity on existing shapes (they are becoming more conformal to the features’ true geographic shape as more human sensors perambulate) and surveys some more cities and significantly more neighborhoods. From a data analytics perspective, I wish the new version had the summary photo count and centroid XY per feature of the 1.0 version. But very excited to see a new version released! Image above by Aaron Straup CopeMore coverage of things Flickr on Kelso’s Corner »

While the dataset is distributed in GeoJSON format, that isn’t accessible to everyone so I’ve mirrored an ESRI Shapefile version of the Flickr Shapefile Public Dataset 2.0 with this blog post (~60 mb). Details on how I did the conversion after the jump.

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Historical Metropolitan Populations of the United States (Peakbagger)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

[Editor's note: Chart shows US populations since 1790. I especially enjoy the appendix table: Peak Years for Cities that have Declined in Rank.]

Republished from Peakbagger.com

The graph and tables on this page attempt to show how the urban hierarchy of the United States has developed over time. The statistic used here is the population of the metropolitan area (contiguous urbanized area surrounding a central city), not the population of an individual city. Metropolitan area population is much more useful than city population as an indicator of the size and importance of a city, since the official boundaries of a city are usually arbitrary and often do not include vast suburban areas. For example, in 2000 San Antonio was the 10th largest city in the U.S., larger than Boston or San Francisco, but its Metro Area was only ranked about 30th. The same thing was happening even back in 1790: New York was the biggest single city, but Philadelphia plus its suburbs of Northern Liberties and Southwark made it the biggest metro area.

Continue reading at Peakbagger . . .

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7 Billion People in Kinetic Typography

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Very cool motion graphic promo for National Geographic’s new year-long series, via Kat and seen at BrainPickings.

Ascension Island: Like Easter Island, Ascension Island has lessons for the planet—cheerful ones (Economist)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

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[Editor's note: Fun geo writeup of that spot of rock in the Atlantic near St. Helena. Thanks Derek!]

AT THE top of Green Mountain, the central peak of Ascension Island, there is a small pond, dotted with lilies, shadowed to one side by the fronds of a pandan tree. It is the only open body of fresh water on the island—and for a thousand kilometres in any direction. Around Dew Pond grows a grove of towering bamboo, beyond which the trade winds blow incessantly from the south-east. Within the grove the air is still and damp.

Along the trailing ridge of the summit are fig trees, Cape yews and a garland of remarkably vigorous ginger. Below, on the mountain’s lee side, trees and shrubs from all parts of the world spread down the hillside to a landscape of casuarina trees—ironwood, or she-oak—and thorny chaparral around its base. Even on the bleaker windward slope, grasses and sedges are dotted with Bermuda cedar and guava bushes. Above, the bamboo scratching at their bellies, are the clouds the trade winds bring; some days they cover the mountain top.

Once seen as too dry to be worth inhabiting, Ascension Island is becoming greener at an increasing rate. People are responsible. In part, their contribution was unwitting: the thorny mesquite that anchors a lot of the island’s scrub was introduced for a landscaping project just 50 years ago. But the forest on the peak of Green Mountain represents a deliberate attempt to change the island’s climate to make it more habitable. It is the centrepiece of a small but startling ecological transformation which is part experiment and part accident, part metaphor and part inspiration.

Ascension was discovered by the Portuguese in 1501. Just to the west of the mid-ocean ridge that separates South America’s tectonic plate from Africa’s, it is the top of a volcano which rises steeply from abyssal plains more than four kilometres below the surface of the ocean. The volcano made it above that surface only a million or so years ago, since when the island has grown to about 100 square kilometres. Before people arrived it was home to just a flightless bird, a land crab and no more than 30 species of plant, none as big as a bush. It was so barren and isolated that during the following three centuries of assiduous empire-building neither the Portuguese nor any other nation bothered to claim it. When Captain Cook passed by in 1775, Georg Forster—later to become renowned for his accounts of exploration—wrote it off as a “ruinous heap of rocks”, drearier even than Tierra del Fuego and Easter Island. But Forster’s naturalist father Johann saw something more promising:

Continue reading at The Economist . . .

“Joy of Stats” from BBC4 featuring Hans Rosling

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Now on YouTube! This hour long documentary “takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride through the wonderful world of statistics to explore the remarkable power they have to change our understanding of the world, presented by superstar boffin Professor Hans Rosling, whose eye-opening, mind-expanding and funny online lectures have made him an international internet legend.” BBC4

What if the largest countries had the biggest populations?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Created by Reddit user JPalmz, this cartogram-like graphic uses the country shapes from a normal world map but relabels them according to population ranking. Click on image for larger version.

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Live election results map from The Washington Post

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Looking for live results and post-election wrap up? Look no further than The Washington Post »

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My WhereCampPDX keynote presentation (Kelso)

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I presented the keynote last month at WhereCampPDX, a fun, free “unconference” in Portland, Oregon focusing on all things geospatial. Lots of discussions and met great people. The PDF of my presentation can be downloaded at kelso.it/x/pdx.

I talked about “cities and the people that live them” with particular focus on how do we count people, how grouping thematic and enumeration unit size changes with map scale and has specific impact on geofencing and choosing which cities to show at different web map zoom levels. The biggest hole in GeoNames.org and other gazetteers is the 3rd world, primarily in India and China but also Africa, also where most population growth will occur the next generation.

Here are some preview slides:

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Review of Essential Geography of the United States of America wall map

Friday, August 27th, 2010

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Will print maps survive Google Maps and the iPad? If Dave Imus’s new Essential Geography of the U.S. is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes!

Wall maps are large, physical artifacts that evoke our love of place. Indeed, they are the trophy mounts of the mapping world. They offer fond remembrance of the thrill of adventure, help dream up new trips, and effect a sirens call over friends and family with their proud display of  geography. Custom cartography reminds us place is not the sum of a street network but a overlay of cultural story and physiographic pattern. As OpenStreetMap, NavTeq, TeleAtlas, and the like duke it out in the PND and 1:10,000 scale road-map-as-a-service space, this map shows our discipline at it’s best.

Now for the specs. This beautiful wall map is drawn at 1:4 million scale (36″ tall by 48″ wide, ~65 miles to the inch). That’s twice the detail you get from Natural Earth’s raw GIS data. I was sent a preliminary copy for review and several attentions to detail catch my eye:

  • Major airports are located and labeled with their 3-character code (SFO, LAX, LGA, etc).
  • Attractions are listed for most metropolitan cities (Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, fisherman’s warf in San Francisco).
  • A compilation of small, mid, and large size cities nestle between named mountain ridges, settle the green forests, and line the coast. Some even have their elevation noted (“mile high” Denver at 5280 feet).
  • This human geography is connected by a road network with shields indicating relative lane widths, but still showing small rural routes when they are the only access thru town.
  • National parks and other sites are outlined and named.

The map is fittingly dedicated to William Loy, long time geography professor and coauthor of the award winning Atlas of Oregon (University of Oregon Press, 2001) who passed over in 2003. The map goes on sale this fall, perfect for the gifting season. Available soon at Imus Geographics »

Here’s another preview:

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Blog holiday, 3 year anniversary

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

See me in person in Portland when I keynote WhereCampPDX the weekend of September 25; Barcelona for FOSS4Geo; or Borsa, Romania for the Int’l Mountain Cartography conference. I’ve got a few projects I need to wrap up and start this Fall so please expect only intermittent updates rather than daily digests.

Over the last three years (almost to the day), I’ve had more than 600,000 pageviews in this space, from original pieces like Meet Toni Mair — Terrain Artist Extraordinaire to promoting other’s work like Public Art in Google Street View (Good Mag). I’ve tooted my own horn on projects like Create Calendars Automatically in Illustrator: Version 5 (Kelso) and helped folks with Freehand and VBA in ArcMap. I have two more big posts planned the next several weeks, so don’t unsubscribe quite yet ;)

In the meantime, I will continue to tweet @kelsosCorner, the micro-blogging service. A sample of Twitter posts is featured in the upper right sidebar on this page.