July 31, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Ate Poorthuis on the DOLLY Project

Ate Poorthius provides the first look at an extremely early version of the DOLLY project (Data on Local Life and You) under development at the University of Kentucky. The project is designed to provide a website to map geographic social media and official data to enable users to analyze their local communities.

SheepCamp 2012, Ate Poorthius from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

The DOLLY Project: http://newschallenge.tumblr.com/post/25545876923/the-dolly-data-on-local-life-and-you-project

SheepCamp 2012: Sasha Savelyev on Geovisual Analytics for Text

The talk by Sasha Savelyev highlights his work on qualitative information (particularly text) visualization with specific attention to text footprint, text overlap and typeface.

SheepCamp 2012, Alexander Savelyev from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Sasha's website: http://www.personal.psu.edu/azs5362/

July 30, 2012

Sheep Droppings: 7/16-7/29

After a week's hiatus, we're back with another - albeit shorter - Sheep Droppings for those needing to scratch the itch of geoweb news.

First, for those looking to publish, the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems has a CFP out for a special issue on geospatial analysis of VGI. Paper submissions aren't due until December, so you've got plenty of time to whip that manuscript into shape. 

Speaking of publications, an interesting-looking paper by Andre Oboler, Kristopher Welsh, Lito Cruz entitled, "The danger of big data: Social media as computational social science" snuck by us in the July issue of First Monday. And it also looks like Barney Warf has a shorter-ish book on internet geography coming out sometime soon from Springer. 

For those readers in the UK seeking out the £££, the ESRC has a Google-sponsored workshop and grant CFP out related to applications of big data for social science research.

There's also an opportunity for folks interested in studying in Germany, where there are a handful of PhD studentships at Heidelberg University in spatio-temporal analysis of user-generated content

In the interesting-maps-from-around-the-web department, Mark has a new map up comparing the prevalence of different predominantly-Middle Eastern languages in Wikipedia

We also stumbled across this video from some folks at MIT promoting a new toolbox for urban network analysis for ArcGIS... While the tool itself seems pretty interesting, the futuristic projections of urban augmented reality are really what makes it most interesting.

Urban Network Analysis from City Form Lab on Vimeo.

We also came across a new (?) attempt at mapping the internet -- focusing on website traffic, but clustering the sites based on nationality and language.

In one final bit of more specifically Sheep-related news, we'd like to again congratulate Monica on her successful dissertation defense last week, and wish her well as she begins a new job at Humboldt State University in California, coincidentally the center of U.S. marijuana production, as confirmed by the Price of Weed map that Monica made. Don't worry, though, she's not leaving us, per se, just moving on to greener (ahem) pastures.

Until next time, sheeple!

July 28, 2012

Sheep and the Olympics

We note with interest that the the opening ceremonies of the Olympics included "...70 sheep, 12 horses, ten chickens, three cows, and two goats."

We, of course, take full credit for the high representation of sheep.  Clearly someone on the Olympic committee has been reading our blog and studies of the online popularity of farm animals and decided it was time to do the right thing...


Beasts of England, Beasts of France-land,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.

Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Pig shall be o'er thrown,
And the fruitful fields of our lands
Shall be trod by sheep alone.*

* Apologies to George Orwell

July 27, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Kristen Grady on Mapping Emotion and Experience

The talk by Kristen Grady is Mapping Emotion and Experience and explores the idea of using the geoweb as source material for efforts to map perceptions of local neighborhoods.

SheepCamp 2012, Kristen Grady from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Kristen's website: http://about.me/Kristen.Grady
On Twitter: @kg_geomapper

SheepCamp 2012: Jonathan Rush on Twitter and the Death of Distance

The talk by Jonathan Rush looks at using Twitter data to study Ohio State Bill 5 (which would restrict the collective bargaining rights of public employees) to look at distances in mention networks to see how proximity does (or does not) play a role within online social movements.

SheepCamp 2012, Jonathan Rush from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

On Twitter: @rushgeo

July 26, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Matt Moehr on Digitagging Neighborhoods

In his talk, Matt Moehr discusses how the geoweb can provide a means of identifying neighborhoods (with all their associated benefits) that is more reflective of actual, on-the-ground perceptions than the standard census tract definitions used currently.

SheepCamp 2012, Matt Moehr from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

On Twitter: @mattmoehr

SheepCamp 2012: Pam Dempsey on Citizen Journalism and the Geoweb

Pam Dempsey outlines reasons why journalists are interested in the geoweb and gives a number of examples of using the geoweb to focus on hyperlocal economic and political issues.

Sheepcamp 2012, Pam Dempsey from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

CU-Citizen Access: http://cu-citizenaccess.org/
On Twitter: @pamelagdempsey

July 25, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Alan McConchie on Countermapping DigiPlace

Alan McConchie's talk looks at the potential for activism on the geoweb and gives the history of a countermapping project designed around the Vancouver Olympics. He also outlines work on creating a similar project for the London games this summer.

SheepCamp 2012, Alan McConchie from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Alan's website: http://mappingmashups.net/
Vancouver [de]Tour Guide 2010: http://vancouvertourguide2010.org/
London [de]tour Guide 2012: http://www.londontourguide2012.org/
On Twitter: @mappingmashups

SheepCamp 2012: Taylor Shelton on User-Generated Political Geographies

Taylor Shelton's talk, From Online Politics to User-Generated Political Geographies, explores how the geoweb is broadening the kinds of online political action that can take place, in particular the idea that geotagging is a means through which it is possible to more directly engage with particular places.

SheepCamp 2012, Taylor Shelton from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

On Twitter: @jts_geo

July 24, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Derek Watkins on the Digital Facets of Place

In his talk, Mapping the Digital Facets of Place, Derek Watkins presents a case study of geoweb representations in English and Spanish along the U.S.-Mexico border and how these digital constructions create and influence perception of places along the border.

SheepCamp 2012, Derek Watkins from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Derek's website/blog: http://blog.dwtkns.com/
On Twitter: @dwtkns

SheepCamp 2012: Monica Stephens on the Gender Biases of the Geoweb

Monica Stephens' talk is titled Guns, Germans and Strip Clubs, and focuses on the gender bias within the geoweb and how it falls short of the rhetoric of inclusiveness that surrounds Web 2.0 applications. She looks specifically at the case of how "childcare" was not approved as map category within OpenStreetMap.

SheepCamp 2012, Monica Stephens from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Monica's website: https://sites.google.com/a/email.arizona.edu/stephens/
On Twitter: @geographiliac

July 23, 2012


We'd like to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog reading to announce that sometime early in the dayWe realize this doesn't quite put us on par with Google or Facebook, but we're still trying to get to grips with what this means.

The same number of people would have visited our blog as:
-- 0.017% of the world's population
-- 0.044% of the world's online population (i.e., 1 in every ~2000 Internet users)
-- 3x the population of Iceland
-- 11x the capacity of Wembley stadium
-- 2,100x the capacity of a Boeing 747
-- approximately 500,000x the number of people who read an average academic article

All kidding aside, thanks to everyone who has supported our blog over the past three years. We couldn't have gotten here without all of you, especially those single individuals who visited our blog from Benin, Christmas Island, Kiribati, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Niger and Vanuatu. The eight of you, wherever you may be right now, are probably the ones who put us over the hump.

July 19, 2012

SheepCamp 2012: Matt Zook on Mapping Zombies

Matt Zook's talk comes from a book chapter entitled "Mapping zombies: a guide for digital pre-apocalyptic analysis and post-apocalyptic survival" (co-authored with Mark Graham and Taylor Shelton) and compares the ways in which the zombie trope can inform society as to how the socio-technical practices of the geoweb provide a means for better understanding everyday cultural spaces.

For the full zombie chapter (including stuff that we had to cut from the final chapter) please see our earlier posting.

SheepCamp 2012, Matt Zook from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Matt's Website: http://www.zook.info/ and www.floatingsheep.org
On Twitter: @mattzook
Zombie Name: Graaagh "Eeeooorgh" the Bloody

SheepCamp 2012: Matt Wilson on Counting Sheep

Matt Wilson's talk, Beyond Counting Sheep, is a wildly amusing review of how studies of actual sheep are conducted, which he then brings back to how we might establish a research agenda for the geoweb.

SheepCamp 2012, Matt Wilson from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Matt's website: http://www.uky.edu/~mwwi222/
Life After GIS blog: http://lifeaftergis.blogspot.com/
Critical GIS blog: http://criticalgis.blogspot.com/
On Twitter: @wilsonism

July 17, 2012

The Geography of Klout

Most Twitter users have heard of Klout scores. These scores, which fall between 0 and 100, supposedly measure social influence, with higher scores indicating that a person is more influential. This isn't to say that such quantification of a person's influence based on online activity is entirely unproblematic. The entire endeavour is worrying on a number of levels, and it is highly unlikely that a single number, especially a number generated using Klout's methods, could ever sum up the various ways in which influence is perceived and enacted.  

Nonetheless, we wanted to map the service in order to see how the geography of online influence (according to Klout) might vary over space:

Over the course of four consecutive days of polling. for 30 seconds every 5 minutes from Twitter's spritzer-level of access, we collected a total of 3,598,060 geotagged tweets via the random public timeline. These geotagged tweets were then bundled into their respective countries of origin, and the resulting set of country-bundled tweets were sampled randomly for up to 1000 users. The resulting sample of users were queried using Klout's API. 

The map above shows only countries with a user sample size of more than fifty users (who publish geotagged tweets). Looking at the data, we see a very interesting amount of variation. The average score, globally, is just 26. 

France has the highest score with an average of 37.8 (taken from a sample of 837 users in the country). The UK (34.9), Sweden (34.8), Brasil (34.8), and Indonesia (34.2) all follow closely behind (Brazil and Indonesia are incidentally some of the world's most prolific tweeters). 

The US, which normally excels in all metrics of online visibility/power/reach comes in at 10th with an average Klout score of 33. But this isn't to say that tweets emanating from the US as a whole are not influential. The US is the world's largest source of content on Twitter. This massive amount of information pushed through the platform undoubtedly means that American users in the aggregate have a large amount of visibility. 

Yet it remains that they have a relatively weak average 'influence'. Nonetheless, despite the strong scores of Brasil and Indonesia, it remains that we (perhaps unsurprisingly) see that most countries in the Global South have less 'influence' than their Northern counterparts. In the list of top-20 Klout scores, there are only two countries with a GDP per capita below the world average (Indonesia and Egypt).

Kenya scores highest in Sub-Saharan Africa (in 22nd place globally) with an average Klout score of 31. Most other Sub-Saharan nations are then much lower down in the list of average influence.

This doesn't mean that there is a clear relationship between GDP (or level of 'development') and Klout scores (Australia, for instance, is in 52nd position on our list). However, with a few exceptions, poor countries tend to have relatively low scores. 

Is this because we are picking up traces of the cultural dominance of the North even in a supposedly decentralised network (i.e. Northern tweeters might tend to have greater reach and amplification than their Southern counterparts)? This finding doesn't mean much for any particular person attempting to communicate or spread a message, but still potentially sheds light on the issue of voice in the world's margins. 

On the other hand, perhaps we are just reproducing and amplifying opaque and highly problematic data. We should therefore certainly not overreach in any interpretations of these data. 

Nonetheless, we still want to know if the French truly are more influential on Twitter than everyone else? And, if so, why? 

July 16, 2012

Sheep Droppings: 7/9-7/15

Another week, another edition of Sheep Droppings...

First, to get the sheep-related news out of the way, Matt and Taylor have a book chapter out in the new edited collection Cities, Regions and Flows, edited by Peter V. Hall and Markus Hesse. Though it isn't exactly geoweb-related, the chapter deals with the mutually constitutive relationship between material commodity flows in the global economy and the virtual flows of information which enable them. Email Matt or Taylor if you'd like a copy of the chapter...

It also seems the Church vs. Beer map just won't go away, as we now have the honor of being featured on the Japanese version of CNN.com

There's also a new paper in GeoJournal by Jonathan Cinnamon and Nadine Schuurman on ways to ameliorate the data-divide in poorer communities. GeoJournal also has a couple of relevant papers that have been stuck in the Online First section for awhile, including one by Matthew Kelley on "The emergent urban imaginaries of geosocial media" and one by Stefanidis et al on "Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds".

...and one more bit of new publication news: James Cheshire and Michael Batty have a new editorial in E&PB on visualization tools for big data. You can read James' summary of the editorial and some other general thoughts on his blog.

Slate had an interesting piece this week on how the Wikipedia controversy over Kate Middleton's wedding dress serves as an indicator of gender bias within user-generated content online.

In the cool maps of the week department, we found these neat maps of internet infrastructure -- most are of undersea cables, but there is also a good map of internet infrastructure in New York City. There was also this new map of linguistic variations of pop vs. soda vs. coke in the US using Twitter data. Just for comparison's sake, here are Eric Fischer's map using similar data from Twitter, our map using Google Maps refernces, and Alan McConchie's original using survey data.

Our last bit of news for the week comes from industry, where the geoweb and big data gurus at GeoIQ decided to join forces with the ever-so-hated behemoth at Esri. You can check out some interesting critiques of the move here and here

Until next time, sheeple!

July 09, 2012

Sheep Droppings: 7/2-7/8

Last week, we were a bit short on news items for Sheep Droppings and threatened to go to a bi-weekly schedule. But this week was a big week for sheep, so we're back for our third consecutive week.

The "Call for Calls for Papers" for the planned #GEO/CODE symposium at the 2013 AAG meetings in LA went out last week. We hope to get a diverse group of folks working on issues around the geoweb and big data to participate, so if you'd like to help organize a session or participate in some way, please get in touch!

One of our co-organizers for the symposium, Ryan Burns from the University of Washington, has a short blogpost up illuminating some potential lines for a geographic critique of 'big data'.

Also check out the new Digital Natives With a Cause? Newsletter from the Centre for Internet and Society, in which Mark has a blurb.

There was also this little map last week, which ended up getting picked up by The Guardian, The Atlantic Cities, FlowingData, and io9 among other places. There was even this more localized map of Michigan published on Michigan Live.

Thanks to everyone for reading, sharing, liking, re-tweeting, what-have-you, and welcome to our new fans and followers who discovered us through the map. And the Church vs. Beer map also just happened to overshadow Mark and Monica's cartogram on the geography of Twitter, which was also featured on The Atlantic earlier in the week

Mark has continued exploring the world of zombie-themed augmented reality apps, and Matt also came across another example of zombies being used as a teaching tool, this time at Michigan State. It's nice (and perhaps a bit worrisome) to know we're not alone in our fascination with the undead.

Until next time, sheeple!

July 04, 2012

Church or Beer? Americans on Twitter

In honor of the anniversary when American colonists kicked out the oppressive British (apologies to Mark and other oppressive Brits) today is the birthday of the United States. Traditionally it is celebrated by attempting to blow up or burn a small part of it with fireworks, and given the dry conditions at the moment, we may very well succeed at this beyond our wildest expectations.

But until #badideaswithfireworks becomes a trending hash tag, we thought we'd use Twitter to explore some of the regional differences that are rending the fabric of society make America great. It also gives us a chance to showcase some of the potential of our nascent DOLLY project (feel free to visit the Knight News Challenge website and comment positively!), which integrates and maps geographic social media and official data sources. DOLLY is still not quite ready for general use, but the backend database is all set which makes it really easy to pull out user generated geocoded data, in this case from Twitter.

So in honor of the 4th of July, we selected all geotagged tweets[1] sent within the continental US between June 22 and June 28 (about 10 million in total) and extracted all tweets containing the word "church" (17,686 tweets of which half originated on Sunday) or "beer" (14,405 tweets which are much more evenly distributed  throughout the week). See below for more technical details[2] or just go straight to the map below to see the relative distribution of the tweets in the U.S.

Relative Number of Tweets containing the terms "church" or "beer" aggregated to the county level, June 22-28, 2012

This map clearly illustrates some fairly big regional divides (more on that in a bit) but it is worth drilling down a bit to see how this plays out at the local level.  San Francisco has the largest margin in favor of "beer" tweets (191 compared to 46 for "church") with Boston (Suffolk county) running a close second. Los Angeles has the distinction of containing the most tweets overall (busy, busy thumbs in Southern California). In contrast, Dallas, Texas wins the FloatingSheep award for most geotagged tweets about "church" with 178 compared to only 83 about "beer."

Of course, since these are tweets, the content is decidedly less spiritual than one might expect given the focus on beer and church.  For example, the most common example of a "church" tweet was simply a report such as "I am at _______ church".  More amusing are what we characterize as "competitive church going" when one person replaces another as the Foursquare "mayor" of a church. "I just ousted Jef N. as the mayor of Dallas Bible Church on @foursquare! 4sq.com/5hNW6x" 

This of course echoes the Sermon on the Mount and the famous verse, "Blessed are those who check in for they shall inherit the badges of righteousness."  Another common category were politically related tweets such as "#ICantDateYou If You Dont Go To Church" or "@____ you're right. It's like separation of church and state. But they really shouldn't be separated. #twitterpolitics". 

Given the cultural content of the "church" tweets, the clustering of relatively more "church" than "beer" content in the southeast relative to the north-east suggests that this could be a good way to identify the contours of regional difference. In order to quantify these splits, we ran a Moran's I test for spatial auto-correlation which proved to be highly significant as well.[3] Without going into too much detail, this test shows which counties with high numbers of church tweets are surrounded by counties with similar patterns (marked in red) and which counties with many beer tweets are surrounded by like-tweeting counties (marked in blue).  Intriguingly there is a clear regional (largely north-south split) in tweeting topics which highlights the enduring nature of local cultural practices even when using the latest technologies for communication.

We also note that this map strongly aligns with the famous 'red state'/'blue state' map from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections with a strong "religious right" component in the Southeastern United States (see also The Virtual 'Bible Belt') and a more liberal, or at least beer-tweeting, Northeast and upper Midwest (see also The Beer Belly of America).

In any case, happy 4th of July to our American readership. We hope you enjoy your beer in the north, or your church service if you are tweeting from the south.
[1] It is important to note that geotagged tweets are somewhat of an oddity among tweets, as only one to three percent of tweets (depending on the country) are geotagged.  Still a small percentage of a very large number (the total number of tweets) results in a LOT of data.
[2] There are a number of technical issues tied to the validity and scale of geography associated with tweets which we won't go into here but it is worth mentioning that we are NOT using user profile locations.  This data is limited to geographic information associated with each tweet, often drawn from a GPS capable device.  While the relevant scale at which analysis can be done differs between tweets about 90 percent of the tweets in this sample are accurate on the city level or lower which works well for this analysis.
[3] Based on  IDW matrix for 2.34 decimal degrees (Euclidean distance), this test achieved a z-score of 14.34, implying there is a less than 1% likelihood that this high-clustered pattern could be the result of random chance.

July 02, 2012

Sheep Droppings: 6/25-7/1

Last week we announced the beginnings of a new effort to round-up and re-publish news from around the internet geography and geoweb research communities here on the blog in a thing we've decided to call Sheep Droppings. While last week was full of news, this week has shown us that perhaps a weekly edition isn't always going to be the best, so be prepared for a more intermittent (bi-weekly) schedule in the future.

Our first piece of news is to pass along the CFP for the First ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Crowdsourced and Volunteered Geographic Information, being held in California later this year. Deadline for submission of abstracts is late July, with papers due shortly after in August.

Second, friend-of-the-sheep Joe Eckert has taken the lead on an effort to assemble a bibliography of geoweb research using Zotero, as announced on the geoweb-r list. If you're interested in contributing your list of references to the geoweb research community, contact Joe so that you can be added to the group.

Finally, in intra-Floatingsheep news, the DOLLY Project (aka "the Sheepinator") is finally coming together, and is getting close to collecting enough data to start publishing some new maps here on the blog.

Unless the first week of July turns out to be a big one for the geoweb community, expect to see us back in a couple of weeks. And, as always (and by that, we mean the last two weeks), if you have news you'd like to see on Sheep Droppings, please let us know!