Maps on my mind, Part 2.

I’ve also been reading a lot about maps, cartography, GIS, and geography. Here are some recent reads:

GIS Fundamentals by Paul Bolstad
A great introduction to the technical aspects of GIS, spatial data, and spatial analysis.

How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier
A classic book which describes how to critically think about maps.

All Over The Map blog by Betsy Mason and Greg Miller
A growing collection of beautiful and thought provoking maps.

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Maps on my mind, Part 1.

I’ve been talking online GIS classes from Humboldt State University recently, and really enjoy them. Here are some maps from my assignments. I’ve learned a ton about spatial analysis, projections, basic cartography, ArcGIS, and also a lot about the geography of Humboldt County, CA.

Figure 1. A raster map with a hillshade background layer.
Source: County of Humboldt GIS

Figure 2. A vector map of parcels of land of Humboldt County.
Source: County of Humboldt GIS

Figure 3. A Robinson projection of the world
Source: Bluespray

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On hiatus.

Until I resume, here is an Icelandic waterfall…


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A small percentage of a big number


I recently got an email from LinkedIn saying that I am in the top 5%  of most viewed profiles… out of 200 million profiles. Therefore, I am in the good company of 10 million other profiles. The real lesson isn’t that a small percentage of a big number is, of course, still a big number. It is that math helps keep everything in perspective, including your ego.

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Software Artifacts and the Insert Disc exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image NYC


I found out about Insert Disc, a gem of an art show / project, at the Museum of the Moving Image, via Rhizome. You take a blank DVD-R (which I had to buy specifically for this venture out to Queens where MMI is located) and insert it into a slot carved in the exterior of the building, around the corner from the museum entrance.

After seven minutes or so, a DVD is spit out with a virtual machine running Mac OS 7.6. Also included are art CD-ROMs, Netscape Gold, IE 3.0, and other software artifacts from the 1990s.

These artificial barriers for distributing information recall a time when software was hard work to find, install, and use.   The archaic software  was brittle then, and even more so now. If you push the OS too hard, you end up with a system failure and have to reinstall the virtual machine.

Archiving software-based art work and other artifacts is an increasing difficult challenge, and a good reminder of the what the actual life span of digital media is. (Storing the data is the easy part. Having something to read and run it in 10, 20, or 50 years is the hard part.)

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A sliver of Kusama

A sliver of Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama exterior take over of Louie Vuitton midtown New York flashship store.

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Haring and Android


Pre-dating the Android mascot by 20+ years is this Keith Haring work, currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum.

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Borges wrote on graph paper

I had the fortune in participating in the Find the Future event, which was part of the on-going Celebrating 100 Years exhibition and series of events marking the century-old Main Branch of the New York Public Library. I spent 12 hours locked up in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building with Robert. We were playing a game which involved finding objects labelled with QR code, more on that later.

The best discovery of the night was located in the exhibit of artifacts from the library’s research collection. This crappy photo, taken without flash on a iPod touch, is a manuscript by Jorge Luis Borges, which was written on graph paper. Without overly romanticizing his process,  graph paper is supremely fitting for an author who wrote literary works about the finite library (The Garden of Forking Paths, 1941), interactive fiction (The Library of Babel, 1941), and the limits of science and data collection,  (On Exactitude in Science, 1946).

Support the NYPL.

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What I did today…


Today was the second of three sessions of Introduction to Synthetic Biology, given at Genspace. Going great to so far, considering that I haven’t taken a biology class since high school. We’ve been learning how to create bacteria that smells like bananas. Seriously. There might be interesting applications for grassroots mapping…

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Manzine No. 4

It’s been out for a few months, but if you can find Issue 4 of Manzine, I wrote an article about being a rugby fan in the United States. For those, not in the know, Manzine is “a publication about the male phenomenon.” Produced out of the UK, the magazine is an ingenuous take on men’s magazines.


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