Getting acquainted with the geography of the earth, people, and habitats
November 16, 2019 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Happy (almost belated) Geography Awareness Week, from the U.S. Census and National Geographic Society, who have promoted this, the third week in November for decades, since Reagan's presidential proclamation in 1987. For younger explorers, National Geographic has resources for grades K-12, and the National Education Association has resources for Grades K-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. And a happy belated GIS Day, from Esri, who has first established in 1999, which provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. GIS Geography has some ideas for how to celebrate GIS.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

I used to do the National Geographic quiz every day. There's so much of the world I know nothing about - and so many geography terms I still don't know. (Hi, barchan!)

This is great - thanks for posting this, filthy light thief!
posted by kristi at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

an international forum for users of geographic information systems technology to demonstrate real-world applications locking users into proprietary ESRI workflows

ftfy. ESRI may have some cool technology, but they make Oracle look like amateurs in the lock-in business.
posted by scruss at 3:11 PM on November 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you'd like to play with GIS software without giving ESRI a big pile of money, try out QGIS.
posted by zamboni at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am aware of geography.
posted by atoxyl at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2019

I adore geography, had National Geographic maps lining my walls growing up, even aced a political geography quest by filling in every country on a blank political map of the world, but even so just yesterday still got to experience the delight of being gobsmacked by it.

Been reading a few novels set in northern Europe, and popped open Google maps to place some towns and…holy shit!  How did I never notice that 1:   Copenhagen's on an island.  2:  It's practically inside Sweden it's so close.  And 3:   How the hell did I never notice that Denmark almost completely stoppers up the Baltic?  Noticing stuff like this has a way of making multiple lightbulbs go off.  Suddenly a whole lot of Scandinavian history and rivalries just leapt into much closer focus, just because a bit of geography snapped into place in my own mental model.

I was absolutely delighted to discover this little personal blind spot being illuminated.  It's like watching the face of a friend from the UK when I'm trying to explain just how empty the U.S. is and I point out that the entirety of the UK, Northern Ireland included, would fit inside Oregon.  Or when you notice that all of South America is East of Chicago.   Or when you point out to an American that Montana is nearly as wide as Texas.  Or when you notice that warm and sunny Spain is about the same latitude as New England.  It's just as fun to feel that light go off as it is to watch it.

Man I love that feeling, and I love seeing it in others. This little planet's got so many interesting nooks and crannies.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2019 [11 favorites]

Great post. One of the least shitty proclamations of the Reagan years. I suppose it's unsurprising that ESRI and NatGeo both remain pretty problematic entities (incidentally, NatGeo just laid off a bunch of staff after being acquired by Big Mouse).

Better GIS tools and bigger datasets haven't always made for more interesting uses or more nuanced maps, and better production values combined with multi-platform media wars have made NatGeo far less interesting intellectually.

On a different note I really want to say something about how virtual maps on our phones have fundamentally changed our understanding of our surroundings, but it needs more fleshing out than I'm currently able to muster.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:02 PM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Man I love that feeling, and I love seeing it in others.

One of my personal favorites for eliciting this reaction is one of the graphics that superimposes Australia on a map of the contiguous US. You want to talk big and empty, that's a great illustration.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:10 AM on November 17, 2019

I don't care that my workplace is celebrating GIS Day a week late, because there's gona be cake and unspecified other free food. This makes it a major holiday on my calendar, above Halloween and Presidents' Day for sure.
posted by asperity at 8:35 AM on November 17, 2019

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