Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pink Shore

The hope for this blog is to get you thinking about how geography relates to your everyday life.  Hopefully you pick up a thing here or there that you weren't aware of but this blog is not meant to be encyclopedic or your primary source of geographic learning...wikipedia works just fine. 

I'll point out a thing here or there that surprises me or catches me off guard and try to offer an explanation.  Not today.  Today I'm asking you to help me out.  It's not uncommon for something to show up on Google Earth that makes you think twice but I stumbled upon something today that still has me guessing.

This is where you come in.

Randomly perusing the coastline of Greece I came across a portion of land with a distinct pink hue.  My first thought was that it was some sort of camera aberration but I used the time dial to look at other imagery and discovered a similar pink tint.  The fact that the pink tone is apparent in various levels of details makes it apparent that rather than being a camera issue, this is something on the ground.

So help me out.  What the heck makes this area near Nea Lampsakos pink? Salt deposits? Endless sunsets? Blood of Spartans?

If you can't make out the location look for 38 degrees 26 minutes 14 seconds North, 23 degrees 37 minutes 32 seconds East.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Lonely Los Angeles Water Fountain

Before you do anything else (well, go ahead and finish reading this post), you should visit the TED website and view the talk "filter bubble" by Eli Pariser.  I won't ruin anything, but the talk discusses the filter bubble we exist in based on the controlled flow of information pumped to us based on our existing tastes and interests.  Couple this with the early explosive growth of Google+ and it's certainly something to think about. So go watch that after you read this post. 

I'm not actively using Google+ yet but one of the first things I noticed was a post from a person in my fledgling Circle of Friends about "The Best Water Bottle Ever".  The post had floated back in to my thoughts a few times in the last week or so and, as if I was given medicine, yesterday I felt the absolute urge to go purchase one of these water bottles.  I even convinced my girlfriend she should get one to get excited about drinking water.  I'm now the owner of a blue camelback water bottle, and she is the owner of a green Nathan's water bottle.  Almost entirely because of the post I saw on Google+.

It didn't stop there.  After my girlfriend bought a new Google Nexus S smartphone this weekend I became much more excited about what the android system can do.  With all the apps out there I figured there was probably a water drinking app. I thought it would be fun to have a little contest to see who could best keep up with the goal of drinking more water.

Again we're talking about water bottles!

It turns out there ISN'T an app for that.  I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but I came across this post which discusses the world of smartphone water source location in addition to other air and water filter news (and I though THIS was a fringe blog-wow!).

That post led me to a new app, not yet released that will allow the cloud-crowd of users to add to the ever-growing database of available public water supply points. Pretty cool idea.

I looked for a random location in Asia but so far, the database only includes UK and US locations.  I happened to zoom in to the Los Angeles area and found a sole, lonely water fountain and thought I'd share it with you.

View FountainTest2 in a larger map
You can also access the drinking fountain map here.

I picked Los Angeles, not entirely at random.  LA was also home to the much over-hyped CARMAGEDDON.  The biggest freakout over nothing in recent memory - a freeway closure? 

Since I spent last week at a transportation conference I would be remiss if I didn't share the story with you about the bike vs. jet competition.  For some reason Jet Blue decided to offer commuter specials to those looking to bypass all the backups caused by the freeway shutdown, but in a race whose outcome was decided before it started, the bikes, or course, prevailed.

In other place-based smartphone news.  Download SCVNGR.  It's like foursquare...but better.  Add me, Ryan Buck as a friend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Official

Welcome to Statehood South Sudan. 

South Sudan, officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a country in East Africa.  That's how the South Sudan wikipedia page now begins (so you KNOW it's legit).  Over the last week I've been making the occasional comment about the new country and surprisingly, most people are at least somewhat familiar with the situation.  The most common response being along the lines of "Oh yea, I think I heard something about that"  which, for a geography question is about as good as you can hope for from a...commoner ;)

South Sudan independence has the web buzzing too.  My blog and my flickr page both saw huge spikes with pages and pictures relating to South Sudan.  Of course huge spike is a relative term and of course, my blog and flickr pages are clearly indicative of the entire web.

However, unlike my blog, National Geographic is proving itself old and slow, not updating their maps, online or print.  Perhaps I'm jumping the gun with my criticism but its not like they didn't see it coming.  When their Map Policy Committee declared South Sudan an area of special status they knew when things would become official but apparently didn't have a plan to update their maps with the biggest change since the breakup of the Soviet Union.  For now I guess I'll have to rely on my fake map of South Sudan.  The question remains...what color will the new nation be on the National Geographic Maps and which other countries will change color?

An exciting time for map nerds everywhere.

Here are a few great pages about South Sudan and its independence I think you should out. Government of Southern Sudan - The US Government of South Sudan Mission - Don't forget the Press - A REAl SS blog

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Map

Now that I finally uploaded pictures from my trip to Scotland, I've spent some time trying to geotag photos on flickr. 

It's certainly not as cool as the map featured last week, and I haven't geotagged all my pictures but I'm happy that my map is expanding.

Flickr's tool for geotagging pictures is pretty cool.  You can edit in batch and then go add detail later.  So for my Scotland pictures I initially have placed them all in one location. As I spend more time I'll be able to edit individual geotags to a more precise location, like I've done with this picture of Edinburgh Castle.

So, I'm looking forward to adding more and more detail to my map.  It's an evolving kml file of the places I've been.

I think geotagging is emerging as an incredibly important component of not only photography, but also geography because it produces such great ways to view our world through the eyes of others.  With that in mind, I encourage you to load your pictures on to (its free, you know) and geotag them.