LOTS of comments this week...
... as Regular SRS Readers chimed in with great suggestions for their favorite geo-resources.
|The new Google Earth on the web (https://www.google.com/earth/) is a fantastic|
geo-located information resource.
We had two parts to this Challenge, but the first part is HUGE... and I'm still working on it, which is why I'm so slow in writing up an answer this week. I'm going to write up my answer to Challenge #1 tomorrow.
1. (knowledge) What's your favorite geo-information resource? It could be something we've already talked about (like Earth, Maps, Streetview, or Wikimapia), or you teach us all something about a resource that you use and enjoy. What is it? Why do you think it's great?
When I look at the long list of suggestions, I realize that there are LOTS of possible geo-resources. See the next post tomorrow....
2. (skill) Can you find a NEW geo-information (or geo-mapping, or geo-indexed anything!) resource? What process did you follow to find it?What I was looking for here were some ideas about how to DISCOVER new geo-information resources. How do you do that? Here are the collected strategies of some SRS Regular Readers:
Jon suggested the query:
... which gives lots of suggestions. (Especially nice, the lists of resources.) Worth exploring!
Arthur Weiss suggested:
["google fusion tables"]
... as a way to find alternatives to the geo-capabilities of Fusion Tables.
Ramón gave us a link to Simon Kuestenmacher:
[ Simon Kuestenmacher ]
... which leads to a bunch of the resources he's developed (or written about), such as his Twitter Feed.
Abstracting these ideas
These are great tactics, but I want to abstract them just slightly and turn them into real strategies.
1. Searching for new resources: A great way to find the latest resource (of any type) is to search for:
[ new kind-of-resource ]
[ new geography data set ]
[ new mapping resources ]
But problem with this approach is that many sites will title a page with "new"... and then leave it up on their site for years, constantly advertising that it's "new"!
A great way to get just the truly new stuff is to use the operator after: -- like this:
[ mapping resources after:1-1-2016 ]
The after: operator is relatively new, and lets you filter out everything before the specified date. Notice that I removed "new" from the query since it's redundant. (Anything after 2016 is defined to be new!) Google also has the before: operator, which does the obvious thing.
2. Search alternative names: Jon's use of the search term "geo-information" is great, and suggests a strategy for finding even more resources--look around for terms OTHER than what you'd immediately think of at first blush. (For instance, geospatial, geographic, mapping, etc.) When I did the search for synonyms:
[ synonyms geo-information ]
as I looked through the results, I found the term USGS, which isn't a synonym, but a REALLY useful search term that will lead to productive search results. Like this:
And if you want to see the latest, use after: to limit the results to the most recent.
3. Follow people with aligned interests: Often people will indulge their interests online in ways that are incredibly useful to others, especially if you're not part of that field. Ramón found this guy, Simon Kuestenmacher (or his site), who is VERY much a geo-information / geo-tools guy (among other things).
As a strategy, looking for people who are deeply into a topic (and then looking at their trail of postings on Twitter / Facebook / Web) often leads to fantastic resources. Just a quick glance at Simon's posting leads to all kinds of marvelous maps, animations... and the tools and resources that he uses in his work.
One example. Simon posted a marvelous Greenland animated GIF showing the effect of Mercator map projection distortion (see below, credit:@neilrkaye):
which led me to find the tool used to make this: TrueSize, which lets you compare the size of any two countries, such as Greenland and Mexico (which are, remarkably enough, almost the same size).
Once you start working forward from interesting people, you can find all manner of useful connections. It was this way that I found a link to Exploring the Invisible, which in turn led me to data sets from the World Bank, and handy ways to create your own maps from their data sets, such as this map of worldwide renewable energy resources (below).
There are ways you can improve your searching by making better queries, but there are ALSO ways to improve your searching by expanding the range of things you consider. We've covered a few methods...
1. Search for new resources by explicitly looking for "new" or newly posted content. You can add "new" or "latest" (or similar) to your query, and that will give you that kind of results.
2. Search for another way to express what you're seeking. In the topic of "interesting geo-information," there are MANY ways to say this. If you search for synonyms or alternative ways of expressing your target, you can enrich what you find.
3. Search for a person (or institution) that's aligned with your interests, and follow what they're writing about. You can learn much from the other things they write about. In this case we looked for a person with geo- mapping- data- interests, but this same idea works with nearly any topic. (Give it a try with "medieval music" or "Southwest lizards." As a friend once said to me, "This is the internet, Dan, there's someone who's deeply interested in anything...").
Tomorrow, a few of the geo-information resources that we found.