March 30, 2012

IronSheep 2012: Team Rambouillet and the Flashy, Blingy Map

Continuing our series of posts from the participants in Iron Sheep 2012 (see maps by Team Lamb Chops here and Team Lamb Kebab here), we present the work of Team Rambouillet. Sadly, we don't actually have the flashy, blingy map to present, just a picture of Jim presenting it.
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Team Rambouillet focused (for lack of a better description of our laser like intensity) on crafting a fun and flashy presentation of the data. We were all intrigued by the UFO sighting maps (because aliens are cool) and our professional talents lent themselves to 3D presentations and animations.

Working in pairs, two members focused on finding and processing data, while the other two worked on animation and presentation of the data. The result was an animated zoom onto a kernel density map with an embedded multimedia video. Sadly it really wasn't an answer on how to save the world (as we did not have time for much serious analysis) but it was flashy (dare I say Bling?) and silly which were the goals we had for the time limit. And we had a lot of fun doing it.

Jim Thatcher presenting the Flashy Flash Map

Team Rambouillet: Janine Glathar, St├ęphane Roche, Jim Thatcher, Sarah Williams

March 28, 2012

Sheep Camp 2012: Reminder to Complete Interest Survey

We're still working on finalizing the dates for this summer's Sheep Camp. If you are interested in attending, please fill out this expression of interest so we can gauge possible attendance, best dates and target our small pot of travel funds.

Do it today!!!

****** Overview *****

Building upon the discussion held at the IronSheep wrap-up session at this year's AAG, we are planning to hold a workshop (or SheepCamp) in Lexington, KY on June 1-3 or 15-17. The goal is to develop and work on a research agenda focused on critical analysis of big user-generated datasets.

Details are still in development but we've figured out the following thusfar:

Datasets
Attendees will collaborate using datasets such as:
  • All geo-coded Twitter tweets from December 1, 2011 to the present;
  • All geo-coded Flickr photos; and
  • A measure of geo-coded material indexed by Google Maps for a range of keywords worldwide.
At this time, we are not asking people to contribute their own sets of of data although that is certainly possible.

To develop better understandings of the strengths and weaknesses of specific data sets their will be a series of pre-conference chats and brainstorming sessions with an eye towards drafting specific research questions so the camp can hit the ground running.

Events at SheepCamp
  • A series of lightning talks by participants (an informal research talk of approximately 10 minutes held at a local pub, research does not need to be finalized or formalized);
  • Skill exchanges sessions by participants on specific techniques or ideas;
  • A group challenge project;
  • Discussions on how to theorize the geoweb; and
  • Maybe even a keynote or two (or maybe we'll just visit a bourbon distillery).
Facilities/Accommodations/Food/Drink
We are still exploring the options on this one BUT as this is a camp, this is very much "sleeping bag on floor" territory. We think it helps set this event apart from the normal conference thing and plus it really helps with cost.

We will provide food and non-alcoholic drinks[1].

Travel (and Money for students)
Folks should plan on making their own travel arrangements and if you choose to fly we strongly encourage you to use Lexington's airport rather than Louisville or Cincinnati (which are both about 90 mins away).

We do have a limited pot of money to help with travel and we'd like to maximize it. Please do let us know if you'd like help getting here, especially if you are a student. We hope that there might be some car pooling opportunities as well for those on the East Coast.

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[1] After all, we ain't stupid.

March 26, 2012

Augmented Realities and Uneven Geographies: Exploring the Geo-linguistic Contours of the Web

Mark and Matt have just had a paper accepted to Environment and Planning A (Augmented Realities and Uneven Geographies: Exploring the Geo-linguistic Contours of the Web). The paper is concerned with the ways in which augmented inclusions and exclusions, visiblilities and invisibilities will shape the way that places become defined, imagined, and experienced.





The maps above are all taken from an earlier draft of the paper. They visualise the layers of information indexed by Google and segment the data by language in order to map some of the geo-linguistic contours of the Web. Have a glance through the paper, and let us know if you have any comments or questions. The publication date of the full paper should be some time in early 2013.

March 22, 2012

IronSheep 2012: Team Lamb Kebab's Lunchpocalypse

Team Lamb Kebab is the proud winner of the Worst Map (but in a good way) - "Sheep Happens" trophy at Iron Sheep 2012. They likely could have swept all the awards, except for the fact that they actually took the stopping time seriously (unlike certain teams we could mention) and as a result didn't fine tune their maps - especially the online and interactive one. It was the event's loss, but on the plus side, Team Lamb Kebab ended up with more pizza.

Luckily we now have the opportunity to set things right by posting both the static and web versions of the maps.

=================================

The humans are gone. Long past is the zombie apocalypse. No human brains remain for feasting. So what is a hungry zombie to do but seek out sheep brains, according to the dietary preferences they might have once held as a living hipster in Williamsburg? Lunchtime finds discerning zombies wandering the five boroughs in search of organic sheep brains...

The Lunchpocalypse tool is meant to aid the enterprising zombie restaurateur in locating and exploiting key demographic clusters of organic-preferring zombie consumers. Simply plug in a NYC address, and you'll be able to see what the local preference is, leveraging a geodemographic segmentation analysis of the frequency of internet searches of the words "zombie" and "organic". Maximize your zombie profit and shuffle along with your organic herd to where the customers are! Because the dead are damn hungry!"

Click here for a truly amazing interactive map for the zombie on the hunt for lunch.


(green indicates the likely location of organic sheep brains)

Team Lamb Kebab: Craig Dalton, Jason Farman, Bill Morris, Eric Wolf


March 20, 2012

Geographies of the World's Knowledge E-book Now Available for Tablets

Our booklet, "Geographies of the World's Knowledge", is now available for iPads from Apple's iTunes store. The publication is free and is optimized for tablet viewing (we've included lots of cool interactive features). If you have a tablet, I highly recommend you check it out!


If you don't, you can always download our PDF version in both English and German. Let me know if you have any questions/suggestions.

March 19, 2012

Sheep Camp 2012: This June in Lexington, KY

Building upon the discussion held at the IronSheep wrap-up session at this year's AAG, we are planning to hold a workshop (or SheepCamp) in Lexington, KY on June 1-3 or 15-17. The goal is to develop and work on a research agenda focused on critical analysis of big user-generated datasets.

If you are interested in attending, please fill out this expression of interest so we can gauge possible attendance, best dates and target our small pot of travel funds.

Details are still in development but we've figured out the following thusfar:

Datasets
Attendees will collaborate using datasets such as:
  • All geo-coded Twitter tweets from December 1, 2011 to the present;
  • All geo-coded Flickr photos; and
  • A measure of geo-coded material indexed by Google Maps for a range of keywords worldwide.
At this time, we are not asking people to contribute their own sets of of data although that is certainly possible.

To develop better understandings of the strengths and weaknesses of specific data sets their will be a series of pre-conference chats and brainstorming sessions with an eye towards drafting specific research questions so the camp can hit the ground running.

Events at SheepCamp
  • A series of lightning talks by participants (an informal research talk of approximately 10 minutes held at a local pub, research does not need to be finalized or formalized);
  • Skill exchanges sessions by participants on specific techniques or ideas;
  • A group challenge project;
  • Discussions on how to theorize the geoweb; and
  • Maybe even a keynote or two (or maybe we'll just visit a bourbon distillery).
Facilities/Accommodations/Food/Drink
We are still exploring the options on this one BUT as this is a camp, this is very much "sleeping bag on floor" territory. We think it helps set this event apart from the normal conference thing and plus it really helps with cost.

We will provide food and non-alcoholic drinks[1].

Travel (and Money for students)
Folks should plan on making their own travel arrangements and if you choose to fly we strongly encourage you to use Lexington's airport rather than Louisville or Cincinnati (which are both about 90 mins away).

We do have a limited pot of money to help with travel and we'd like to maximize it. Please do let us know if you'd like help getting here, especially if you are a student. We hope that there might be some car pooling opportunities as well for those on the East Coast.

----------------
[1] After all, we ain't stupid.

March 16, 2012

Slides from Floatingsheep Talks at the AAG

We've posted the talks (or, more accurately, the Powerpoint slides) of the FloatingSheep collective presented at the 2012 NYC AAG below. Many of them are image rich and text poor, so please contact the presenter if you have any questions.

The Technology of Religion: Mapping Religious Cyberscapes

And, as always, you can download the full version of this paper from the journal's website if you have access, or get a prepublication version of this paper directly from us.

Gendering the GeoWeb: Analysing demographic difference in user generated geographic information


Augmented realities and uneven geographies: exploring the geolinguistic contours of the Web

Please get in touch with Mark if you'd like a pre-publication version of this paper. It will be appearing in Environment and Planning A.

Volunteered Geographic Information: Does it have a future?


Gazing on the High Line Park: The production and consumption of tourist place

March 14, 2012

IronSheep 2012: Team Lamb Chops Maps Lamb Chops

We are very pleased to present our first team mapping effort by Team Lamb Chop! For their map and presentation they won the much coveted "What the hell is that? ("Sheep Dip" aka we don't understand it either)" trophy from IronSheep 2012. We'll let their words speak for themselves (although we might offer a bit of commentary in the footnotes).
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Given that our team name was Lamb Chops[1], we wanted to see in which New York neighborhoods one would have the best chance of finding lamb chops on the menu. Our hypothesis was that, given a catastrophic event such as a meteor strike, tsunami, or Godzilla attack[2] , lamb chops would be the preferred post-apocalyptic food[3] of New Yorkers and visiting tourists[4]. Based on the data mined from Google search results for "Lamb Chops" derived via PerlScript, we were able to locate the neighborhoods in which this tasty treat was most prevalent.
Our analysis included all Google hits within 0.5 miles of the centroid of each ZIP code in New York City, save Staten Island, which presumably would be engulfed first by tsunami waves and/or seized by the Wu Tang Clan in a last-ditch attempt to create a utopic settlement called Wu York City [5]. Our results were then mapped using IDW interpolation.

Our conclusion was that the Hilton on 53rd Street and Union Square would be the two best places to savor one's last lamb chops before the world ended.

Team Lamb Chops: Muki Haklay, Sophia B Liu, Thomas Sigler, Tom Swanson

==================
[1] Not to be confused with this lamb chop.
[2] Seems like a highly reasonable hypothesis, yes?
[3] Because nothing gives you the munchies like the complete collapse of civilization.
[4] On the plus side (for tourists at least) getting a room in Manhattan probably would be easier post-apocalypse.
[5] Which will also re-release a version of their earlier work as S.R.E.A.M. (Sheep rule everything around me).

March 13, 2012

Welcoming a New Member of the Collective... Ate Poorthuis

I'm very happy to announce the newest member of the FloatingSheep collective: Ate Poorthuis. Ate makes a fantastic addition to the collective as we needed someome to blame my mistakes on, his research interests are focused on studying how user-generated data (Flickr photos, tweets) can help us better understand the processes and places of cities. He's has also been central in our ongoing collection of all geo-coded tweets and, finally, he's not afraid to map zombies.

Ate is currently a PhD student at the University of Kentucky’s Department of Geography. A recent transplant from the Netherlands, he has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Amsterdam (also in Geography). His interests are at the crossroads of urban geography, public space and the Geoweb – subjects that he also likes to explore via a mix of coding, mapping and data viz.

He gave a really interesting presentation at the 2012 AAG on the production and consumption of tourist places, using Flickr photos and comments of NYC's High Line Park as an example. Particularly innovative is his application of space-time permutation scan statistics (which comes out of epidemiology) and can be very useful in identifying clusters in both space and time.

Prior to beginning his Ph.D. at Kentucky last fall, Ate wrote a great Master's thesis using the location of Flickr photos to study the density of urban digital landscapes and the differences between what "locals" and "tourists" document.

March 10, 2012

Big Data and the End of Theory?


The Guardian just published a short post by Mark which looks at the discourses surrounding 'big data.'

In it he argues that:

Gender, geography, race, income, and a range of other social and economic factors all play a role in how information is produced and reproduced. People from different places and different backgrounds tend to produce different sorts of information. And so we risk ignoring a lot of important nuance if relying on big data as a social/economic/political mirror.

We can of course account for such bias by segmenting our data. Take the case of using Twitter to gain insights into last summer's London riots. About a third of all UK Internet users have a twitter profile; a subset of that group are the active tweeters who produce the bulk of content; and then a tiny subset of that group (about 1%) geocode their tweets (essential information if you want to know about where your information is coming from).

Despite the fact that we have a database of tens of millions of data points, we are necessarily working with subsets of subsets of subsets. Big data no longer seems so big. Such data thus serves to amplify the information produced by a small minority (a point repeatedly made by UCL's Muki Haklay), and skew, or even render invisible, ideas, trends, people, and patterns that aren't mirrored or represented in the datasets that we work with.

Big data is undoubtedly useful for addressing and overcoming many important issues face by society. But we need to ensure that we aren't seduced by the promises of big data to render theory unnecessary.
We may one day get to the point where sufficient quantities of big data can be harvested to answer all of the social questions that most concern us. I doubt it though. There will always be digital divides; always be uneven data shadows; and always be biases in how information and technology are used and produced.

And so we shouldn't forget the important role of specialists to contextualise and offer insights into what our data do, and maybe more importantly, don't tell us.

You can check out the full piece here.



March 09, 2012

Arise you Sheeple.....

Thanks for Jeremy Crampton for passing this along and xkcd for creating it. Beware the power of the Sheeple! B-A-A-A-A-A-A!!!!!!!



Also...floating sheep stickers are still available.....Send me your address and I'll mail some out (zook [at] uky [dot] edu). Need motivation? I think we still have an floatingsheep ornament kicking around, which we'll award to some one.


March 07, 2012

Where in the world are Floating Sheep stickers?

Anyone who attended the AAG in New York this year was likely inundated by Floating Sheep stickers. We had thousands of them and were NOT shy in passing them out. Indeed, many an attendee might now be wondering where exactly the sticker discovered in their bag came from. Perhaps they are even reading this post.

Therefore we issue the challenge to new and old readers to send in photos of sightings -- including ones you put up yourself -- of the floatingsheep sticker [1].

Need stickers? Send me your address and I'll mail some out (zook [at] uky [dot] edu). Need motivation? I think we still have an floatingsheep ornament kicking around, which we'll award to some one.

Be sure to come to the next AAG, there are rumors that temporary tattoos will be making an appearance. Anyone showing up with a permanent floating sheep tattoo will likely never have to buy their own drinks.

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[1] For example, we found (by which I mean we placed) a sticker on a very extensive (i.e., crazy) rant on 57th street in Manhattan. A day later, the sticker had been removed, apparently the side commentary was not appreciated.



March 05, 2012

IronSheep 2012: First Glimpses

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past week, but we were first in the thick of IronSheep-itude and then busy trying to catch up on everything (teaching, sleeping, family, personal hygiene, etc.) that we put on hold for the event.

But to sum things up, it was a great success! Not only was it a lot of fun but it helped push forward thinking about how to approach user-generated data and online mapping technologies more generally. Over the next weeks we'll be posting a lot of material/maps from the event, the debriefing session at the AAG and thoughts about next steps.

But first some heartfelt thanks to those who made this event possible. First a very big thank you to Pivotal Labs (especially Magda Kozak) for be so unbelievably generous and helpful in providing the space for IronSheep. It was perhaps the closest thing to map-geek heaven we're going to find in this world. Also many thanks to Sean Gorman of GeoIQ who provided key encouragement and connections (although sadly couldn't attend in the end) and Javier de la Torre of Vizzuality who made the key introductions to secure the space. Thanks to all those who attended the debriefing session at the AAG, there was a lot of good food for thought/debate coming out of that. Towards that end, see the upcoming #geowebchat scheduled for Tuesday, March 6th, with a slightly longer overview of the debate outlined by Jeremy Crampton here.

Thanks to all the floating sheeple – Mark Graham, Taylor Shelton, Monica Stephens, Candice Wallace and Ate Pourthuis – who scrounged data and organization to pull off the event.

The Floating Sheeple
Finally many thanks to all the attendees who were willing to take a chance on something as strange-sounding as IronSheep. They are featured below (in team pictures) and we look forward to hearing from them as they describe their maps.

To start out the IronSheep review, we've posted a number of photos of the event, activities and participants below.

The Rules of IronSheep
Code and Maps: Perfect together
Enter the Trophies
Watching the Presentations
Enthusiasm and Disbelief

Team Lamb Roast: Ryan Burns, Alan McConchie, Adrienne Ottenberg, Jochen Wendel (ignore Taylor in this photo)

Team Haggis: Duane Griffin, Ate Poorthuis, Derek Watkins

Team Lanolin: Iva, Sterling Quinn, Jonathan Rush, Matt Wilson

Team Ramboullet: Janine Glathar, St├ęphane Roche, Jim Thatcher, Sarah Williams

Team Lamb Kebab: Craig Dalton, Jason Farman, Bill Morris, Eric Wolf

Team Lamb Chops: Muki Haklay, Sophia B Liu, Thomas Sigler, Tom Swanson

Team Mutton: Holly Jean Buck, Joe Eckert, Stefan Kaup, Lize Mogel