April 07, 2014

Catch Floatingsheep at AAG 2014 in Tampa

The Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers is upon us! Find below a close-to-comprehensive schedule of where you can find your favorite Ovis geographers during the conference, as well as some places you can find other interesting stuff, too!

Tuesday, April 8

The conference kicks off with three successive sessions organized by Matt and Mark, in which they'll also be presenting.
1156 Data Shadows and Urban Augmented Realities I: Practicing Data Shadows
8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Grand Salon E, Marriott, Second Floor

1256 Data Shadows and Urban Augmented Realities II: Coding Data Shadows
10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Grand Salon E, Marriott, Second Floor

1456 Data Shadows and Urban Augmented Realities III: Tracking Data Shadows
12:40 PM - 2:20 PM in Grand Salon E, Marriott, Second Floor
Running concurrent with those sessions will be a couple of other sheep-related sessions that Monica has a hand in. First is a panel on 'tribes' organized by Renee Sieber, which Monica will be participating in. After that is a paper session organized by Monica and Joe Eckert, in which Ate will be presenting a paper.
1122 Battle of the Tribes: geoweb, GIS, GI Science, cyberGIS, neogeography
8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Room 22, TCC, First Floor

1216 Alternative Computation and Unconventional Spaces
10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Room 16, TCC, First Floor
Ironsheep 2014 will be held from 5-9pm on Monday evening at the Tampa Bay Wave. Check here for more details.

Wednesday, April 9

Matt and Matt 'the' Wilson also have organized a star-studded panel session on the future of GIScience education featuring Sarah Elwood, Nadine Schuurmann and Mike Goodchild, among others.
2154 Visioning GIScience Education
8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Grand Salon C, Marriott, Second Floor
There's also the alt.conference on Big Data co-organized by friends-of-sheep Joe Eckert, Jim Thatcher and Andy Shears. Various floating sheeple will be participating in these sessions at different times and in different capacities.
2210 alt.conference on Big Data: Opening Panel
10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Room 10, TCC, First Floor

2410 alt.conference on Big Data: Lightning Panels
12:40 PM - 2:20 PM in Room 10, TCC, First Floor

2510 alt.conference on Big Data: Tech Demos
2:40 PM - 4:20 PM in Room 10, TCC, First Floor

2610 alt.conference on Big Data: Lightning Talk Discussion
4:40 PM - 6:20 PM in Room 10, TCC, First Floor
The Annual Kentucky-Arizona Wildcat Party, where you can often find the floating sheeple, will be held on Wednesday night at the Double Decker (1721 E. 7th St.), starting at 8pm.

Thursday, April 10

On Thursday, Taylor has organized two sessions on the smart city with Alan Wiig from Temple University. Taylor will be presenting in these sessions, along with Matt Wilson and Rob Kitchin.
3130 Thinking the 'smart city': power, politics and networked urbanism I
8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Room 30A, TCC, Fourth Floor

3230 Thinking the 'smart city': power, politics and networked urbanism II
10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Room 30A, TCC, Fourth Floor
Friday, April 11

Monica will be presenting her research in the Nystrom Award session, part of the competition for the best paper from a recent dissertation in geography.
4111 J. Warren Nystrom Award Session 1
8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Room 11, TCC, First Floor
Jen Jack Gieseking and Luke Bergmann have also organized a trio of sessions around digital geographies. While none of the sheeple will be direct participants, some UK Geographers will be participating, just for good measure.
We hope to see you all in Tampa!

April 02, 2014

New Book Chapter on the Geographies of Beer on Twitter

We're pleased to announce a new publication by members of the Floatingsheep team. Just released is "Offline Brews and Online Views: Exploring the Geography of Beer on Twitter", a new book chapter written by Matt and Ate that analyzes the geographies of beer-related tweeting activity. Published in a new edited collection from Springer appropriately- and straightforwardly-entitled The Geography of Beer, Matt and Ate's paper -- the latest in Floatingsheep's long line of investigations into the geographies of beer -- shows that geotagged tweets about beer, and other alcoholic beverages for that matter, are reflective of people's offline consumption preferences.

Using a database of one million geotagged tweets from June 2012 to May 2013 containing the keywords "wine", "beer" or the names of a range of light or cheaper beers within the continental US, some clear regional variations in alcoholic beverage preference are detected. For instance, when comparing tweets referencing "wine" to those referencing "beer", wine-related tweets tend to be more dominant along both the east and west coasts of the US. But this kind of variation is present even when comparing different brands of light beer. While Bud Light is more popular in the eastern and southeastern US, Coors Light tends to dominate the west coast, with Miller Lite and Busch Light being preferred in the midwest and Great Plains. The dominance of these brands in virtual space is no surprise, as they also dwarf the competition in actual sales.

But these regional variations are even more distinct when one looks at locally- or regionally-specific brands. While some of these cheaper (which is not to say less delicious!) beers have reached a national or even international market, others remain popular in only a very limited region, owing either to local tradition or simply limited distribution outside of their home-markets. Nonetheless, by mapping the concentrations of geotagged tweets referencing each of these brands, we're able to uncover these regional particularities, as is shown in the map below, taken from Matt and Ate's chapter.

Aggregated Geographies of Tweets referencing Regional 'Cheap' Beers

From Sam Adams in New England to Yuengling in Pennsylvania to Grain Belt and Schlitz in the upper Midwest, these beers are quite clearly associated with particular places. Other beers, like Hudepohl and Goose Island are interesting in that they stretch out from their places of origin -- Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively -- to encompass a much broader region where there tend to be fewer regionally-specific competitors, at least historically. On the other hand, beers like Lone Star, Corona and Dos Equis tend to have significant overlap in their regional preferences, with all three having some level of dominance along the US-Mexico border region, but with major competition between these brands in both Arizona and Texas.

Beer, like many other social practices, may be millennia-old, but the socio-spatial practices associated with it – checking into a brewery, posting a review, geotagging a photo – continue to evolve with technological change. As such, this kind of data provides an important way to capture these socio-spatial practices and preferences, while demonstrating how even in an era of supposed globalization and homogenization, regional histories and cultures continue to be reflected online in important ways.

If you don't have access and would like to read more about this, please contact Matt at zook [at] uky [dot] edu for a pre-publication version of the chapter. Bottoms up!

The full citation for Matt and Ate's chapter is below:
Zook, M. and A. Poorthuis. 2014. "Offline Brews and Online Views: Exploring the Geography of Beer Tweets". In The Geography of Beer, eds. M. Patterson and N. Hoalst-Pullen. Springer. pp. 201-209.

February 27, 2014

IRONSHEEP 2014: Wow. So Sheep. Such Maps.

We are happy to announce that we will be holding our third annual IronSheep geo-hackathon at this year's annual AAG conference in Tampa, Florida.

The event seeks to mimic the format of the “Iron Chef” television series and challenges participants (grouped into teams with members from diverse backgrounds and skill sets) to produce meaningful analysis and fun, evocative map mash-ups from the same sets of user-generated, geo-coded data within a four hour time frame. The goal is to provide a semi-structured environment where participants can socialize and work on a fun, yet socially meaningful project. Participants will be drawn from academic, industry and artistic communities from around the world.

Interested?  We have a larger venue (thanks to Tampa Bay Wave) this year than in years past and so encourage all to come.  We do ask, however, that you pre-register so we have an idea of attendance.

There will be prizes, there will be trophies, there will be gratuitous sheep and use of the doge meme.

Date: Tuesday April 8, 2014
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
Location: Tampa Bay Wave (Directions from the Tampa Convention Center)
Bring: your laptop, software, friends, lovers, geographers, programmers, geo-geeks, ewes, rams and lambs
Don't bring: wolves, Chupacabra or mint sauce as we have learned last year they are hazardous (or offensive) to sheep.

We will provide food, beverages, data, internet, prizes and sparkling commentary. And perhaps even present one of the floating sheep collective as a sheep. But don't count on that last point.

December 08, 2013

Remembering Mandela

Coming of age as I did in the 1980s, Nelson Mandela loomed large and it was with a profound sadness that I learned of his death.  He was a revolutionary fighting against both the unjust racial system of apartheid as well as larger political and economic structures that enabled (and continue to enable) the some to exploit the many.

With his death, the world has lessened; but the dream and the work for justice remains, both in South Africa and the world.

I take comfort in this visualization of the globalness of his legacy, presently partially and imperfectly, in the animation below. Individuals from around the world sending a message containing his name, the merest flash in time-space, that when combined with others sparks, can set the world aglow.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika….

Tweets from December 5th and 6th 2013 containing "Mandela" 

-------- technical notes -----
- This animation represents 190,000 geocoded tweets mentioning 'mandela' sent from 14:00 December 5th to 16:00 on December 6th. Geocoded tweets are only a fraction of all tweets and so the actually number of tweets sent is likely up to 100 times more.
- The use of Twitter varies across countries and low levels of use means that some countries with large populations do no stand out in this map (e.g., China and India). This is most likely an artifact of differences in technology use as well as non-Roman alphabets rather than an indicator of interest.

November 14, 2013

two new researcher positions at the Oxford Internet Institute

We're happy to announce two new researcher posts that have been made available at the Oxford Internet Institute. Both positions link into Mark's larger ERC and IDRC funded research into knowledge economies and virtual labour in Sub-Saharan Africa.

One post is for a researcher with quantitative and statistical skills. 

The other is targeted towards a researcher that has experience using qualitative methods. 

Mark will be working closely with the two successful candidates, and is looking forward to the exciting research possibilities in both projects. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.


Grade 7: Salary £29,541 - £36,298 p.a.

The research focuses on how new economic practices and processes are taking root in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of changing connectivities. We plan to map formal and informal types of participation in ‘knowledge economies’ in order to investigate why certain places have sustained their dominance, why others have become more central, and why some places, practices, and initiatives have declined.

To do this we are seeking a researcher with experience in quantitative social research. The researcher will work on three stages of the project. First, collecting and bringing together all necessary data. While some of the data are readily available in existing and open datasets, others require the creation of custom scripts and data collection tools. Second, using GIS and statistical packages to comprehensively analyse the data. We plan to employ both inferential models and descriptive graphics and maps. Finally, broadly disseminating this work in a variety of open and accessible formats including a data-sharing tool, an interactive website, open reports, and peer-reviewed academic journal articles. The work will also be used as a base for detailed qualitative research performed by two other members of the research team.

The successful applicant will demonstrate an ability to carry out social and spatial statistical analysis, visualise results, write for both public and academic audiences, and work with an interdisciplinary team. We also welcome applications from candidates who are additionally eager to design a future research programme in order to extend the position.

Based at the Oxford Internet Institute, this position is available from 1st March 2014 for 36 months in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal thereafter funding permitting.

Only applications received before 12:00 midday on 9th January, 2014 can be considered. Interviews for those short-listed are currently planned to take place in the week commencing 27thJanuary 2014.

To apply for this role and for further details, including a job description, please click on the link below:


Grade 7: Salary £29,541 - £36,298 p.a.

The Oxford Internet Institute is a leading centre for research into individual, collective and institutional behaviour on the Internet. We are looking for a full-time Researcher to work with Dr Mark Graham and Dr Vili Lehdonvirta on the IDRC-funded project Microwork and Virtual Production Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Combining archival research, surveys, and interviews, this ambitious project will critically assess the impact of Internet and mobile connectivities on social and economic development, particularly insofar as they open up opportunities for novel forms of online work, such as ‘e-lancing’, ‘microwork’, and ‘game labour’.

In this exciting role, the Researcher will carry out a total of approximately six months of fieldwork among virtual workers and organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as working at OII’s premises in Oxford. The Researcher will also contribute to the dissemination of the findings through peer-reviewed academic papers, project reports, events, blogs and social media.

Candidates should have experience of social science research in Development Studies, Geography, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Communications, Organization Studies, Management or related disciplines, training and practical experience in qualitative research methods.

Based primarily at the Oxford Internet Institute (with periods of fieldwork), this position is available immediately for 2.5 years in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal thereafter, funding permitting. For qualified candidates, there may also be opportunities to teach course modules on our ‘Social Science of the Internet’ MSc course.

Only online applications received before 12:00 midday on 13 December 2013 can be considered. Interviews for those short-listed are planned to take place on 16 January 2014.

To apply for this role and for further details, including a job description, please click on the link below:

November 12, 2013

Crisis Mapping in the Philippines: Efforts and Resources

Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines has resulted in catastrophic loss of life and deprivation and our hearts go out the people and towns affected. Response to this crisis (as in the case of Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian Earthquake and Hurricane Sandy) includes a range of efforts that leverage user-generated data and the volunteer mapping efforts of individuals and organizations. We thought it useful to highlight some of these unfolding efforts here as resource for our readers and ourselves. At present this is just a listing of some of the things we've seen in our feeds, please add additional ones to the comments.

MANY of these Maps are actively seeking volunteers so please join in. 

A Variety of Crisis Maps for the Philippines:
News Articles about Current Crisis Mapping Responses:
Previous academic work on crowd-sourced crisis mapping responses:

November 06, 2013

The Geography of Top Level Domain Names

Some of the sheep team have just published a new map over at the Information Geographies project. This one draws on some of Matt's long term research into the geography of domain names which dates back more than fifteen years.[1]   Egads, where did the time go?.

The map offers a detailed overview of one-facet of the geography of content production.  While not the normal kind of user generated data we use in our work at FloatingSheep, domain name registrations are an indicator of content production.

Some results are unsurprising (for instance the low scores in many countries that have low numbers of internet users). However, other unexpected patterns also reveal themselves (such as the relatively low numbers of domains in many Asian countries).  For a more detailed description of results take a look at the discussion on the map's Internet Geography home.

Also, to give some perspective on how much things have changed, here is map of .com domains in San Francisco (and zoomed into just the South of Market region) back in 1998 when there were less than 2 million rather than 110 million that exist today.

Distribution of .com domains by Registrant Address, San Francisco, Summer 1998
Source: Matthew Zook, 2005 (see below)

Distribution of .com domains by Registrant Address, 
South of Market, San Francisco, Summer 1998
(apologies for the low quality image, it is the only one available)
Source: Matthew Zook, (see below)
[1] If you are interested in reading more domain name work check out.

Zook, M.A. (2001). Old hierarchies or new networks of centrality? The global geography of the internet content marketAmerican Behavioral Scientist. (June). Vol 44. No. 10. 1679-1696.
Zook, M.A. (2000). The web of production: The economic geography of commercial internet content production in the United StatesEnvironment and Planning A. Vol. 32. 411-426.