Re-Constructing the Map: NBC’s Geographic Imagination and the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics

Note: This is a paper, co-authored with Emily Fekete at the University of Kansas, which was inspired by a much earlier blog entry. It was accepted for publication by Sociological Research Online, and this page will “go dark” upon final publication in SRO.

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Vernacular Region of “Up North,” Wisconsin

Since moving to Wisconsin over a year ago, I’ve been trying to learn as much about the local topynymy and places of interest. One place that’s come up repeatedly when talking to students is “Up North,” referring to the relatively sparsely settled northern portion of the state. This “Up North” area is important to Wisconsin’s tourist economy and cultural identity. Many Wisconsin residents own property in the region, specifically to support their recreational pursuits. Continue reading “Vernacular Region of “Up North,” Wisconsin”

GEO 106’s Full Tree Inventory of UWFox

This fall, for the GEO 106 classwide project, we were asked by UWFox dean Dr. Martin Rudd to take an inventory of trees on campus in support of the TreeCampus USA initiative. Each group was responsible for mapping approximately a quarter of the over 500 trees on the campus in two formats: a shapefile with attributes, and a Sketchup file that could be added to the existing UWFox Google Earth model.

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Balloon Launch F-01 – December 5, 2012

Originally planned to launch as part of GIS Day, and then having been three times delayed by weather, we finally launched the first balloon imaging mission on December 5, 2012. The original intended use for the data was to supplement GEO 106’s TreeCampus USA inventory, but it was not completed early enough for that application. Dr. Beth Johnson, as well as a handful of students, were very helpful in giving a hand for this launch.

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NBC’s Geographic Imagination, as Reflected in the Olympics Opening Ceremony

A lot has been said about the incredibly sub-par coverage provided by NBC during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Between their questionable decision to tape-delay the ceremony to coincide with prime time to maximize ratings to the many, many omissions from the rather bland, unsurprisingly free-of-colonialism ceremony on the U.S. broadcast — including, quite offensively, a tribute to the 7/7 tube bombings that occurred the day after London’s winning of the games was announced (see the tribute here). Also omitted: a tribute to the Sex Pistols, several music performances (which reviews called outstanding) and more. Instead, they showed a god-awful interview with Michael Phelps, a notably prolific swimmer who, quite frankly, has the personality of a broken toaster oven. Continue reading “NBC’s Geographic Imagination, as Reflected in the Olympics Opening Ceremony”

US That Could’ve Been: Creating Timeline X’s Map with GIS

I’ve been dabbling around with an alternate historical geography of the United States that I’ve called “The United States That Could’ve Been.” So far, I’ve laid out the initial concept map of the altered U.S., and I’ve drafted an alternate timeline of events, called “Timeline X,” which is almost certain to be updated and improved upon a little later. I decided that I’d like to go a few more steps with this and create some bare basic demographic analyses in a GIS, and perhaps put together a little almanac with entries about each of the states. To start, I decided to use existing data from these places just to see, assuming that all other migration events and such else remained largely the same in Timeline X as it did in our reality, what the populations of these new states would be. Continue reading “US That Could’ve Been: Creating Timeline X’s Map with GIS”

US That Could’ve Been: Building Timeline X

This past December, I put together a sort of alternate history map of the United States called “The United States …That Could’ve Been.” It was nothing more than just a bit of fun in a dull and dry winter spell. All of the states created in that entry were based on existing real-life partition proposals that were either flat-out rejected or which flamed out. Continue reading “US That Could’ve Been: Building Timeline X”

Introducing a 3D Google Earth Model of UWFox


Geographic Information Science is taught in the UW Colleges as GEO 106, a course designed to introduce students to various forms of geographic information. Goals of the course includes exposure to many skills, such as map reading and interpretation, map analysis, cartographic methods, remotely sensing data, and an understanding of technical applications of geographic remote systems. Continue reading “Introducing a 3D Google Earth Model of UWFox”

From Absaroka to Yazoo: The 124 United States That Could’ve Been

Most of my life, I’ve daydreamed about history — not so much the incredible depth of historical events that have already occurred, good thinking as that might be. No, I’ve constantly fictionalized history by changing the outcome of one event here and there and exploring the possibilities of what would have come next. Sometimes I come up with some utterly ridiculous progressions on these alternate timelines of whole new worlds based on relatively minor changes. Continue reading “From Absaroka to Yazoo: The 124 United States That Could’ve Been”

Push & Pull Factors Assignment, Spring 2011

Every semester in my introductory classes, I do an assignment on push and pull factors, and how they relate to migration.  Of course, push and pull factors are a relatively easy concept to understand, in that push factors are those ideas about a place that “push” people away from living there, while “pull” factors are those perceptions which attract people.  It’s (really) old news for population geographers, and there have been plenty of critiques on the conceptualization, but it’s nice and tidy for getting intro-level undergrads interested in migration.

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Geographic Literacy: Our Job Isn’t Finished

This week is Geography Awareness Week, a designation that started in 1987 via presidential proclamation to promote geographic literacy in education and in the general public.  Each GAW has a theme; this year’s is freshwater, which isn’t a terribly interesting topic to me personally.  But, as an educator and a geographer, geographic literacy is something I find to be quite important. Continue reading “Geographic Literacy: Our Job Isn’t Finished”