Geography 353 Cartography and Visualization

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Lab 1: What's Your Map For? and Mappable Data
Update: 8/30/17
50 points
ASSIGNED: Wednesday August 30
DUE: Wednesday September 6


What's Your Map For?

One makes maps for a reason, so any given map has a purpose which includes the map's audience and final medium. While you are making your maps in this class as an exercise, it is still important to refine a purpose, audience, and final medium for your project before you start your project. The first part of this Lab has you generating basic information about your project's purpose, audience, and final medium.

Mappable Data

Mappable data has a specific spatial specification. Try saying that fast.

What this means is that you have something as well as it's location. A well is at a particular latitude/longitude, there are 1000 people in that county, etc.

It is getting easier to create your own mappable data. For example, with Google Earth and its KMZ files which each contain one (or many) latitude/ longitude locations:


The WWW is a great source for existing digital mappable data too, some free of charge and some for a fee. In this exercise, you will select a U.S. state(S) you are familiar with or interested in. You will then locate mappable data that can be used in your lab project.

The second part of this Lab has you locating three different formats of population data, by county, in your selected state, for 1900 to 2010 (every 10 years) as well as supplementary population data for 2011-2017. The US Census is the original source of this information, but the data is available in many other places.


ALTERNATIVE PROJECTS: It is possible, if we can find the data and maps, to do a country other than the US. In essence, we need an ArcGIS compatible map (with provinces or other major political subdivisions) and total population counts, by province, for at least 5 or 6 decades. Please talk to the instructor if you wish to pursue such a variation on the project.


Lab 1 Goal: Set up a series of folders (directories) for your work on your computer in the GIS Lab. Define what your map is for, its purpose. Document your search for your mappable data in a lab log (text or word processor file): describe your search for data, population change information, and sites on the WWW. Note the URL of the data, three web sites, and 15 locations in your digital lab log. Be prepared to show the instructor your work on the due date.


The Details:

1) Choose a state! Do choose a state you are interested in or know something about (or want to know more about).

If you choose a small state, do a few (eg., Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts together). You can also do a few adjacent states: the Dakotas, Washington and Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado & Utah, or Florida and Kentucky: this will give you a good sense of the regional characteristics of population change - and it is not much extra work.

Don't choose Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada (which, by the way, isn't officially a US state).


2) Whilst at your chosen computer in the GIS lab:

Make sure you are not logged into your OWU Windows account, rather the generic GISML (no password) account.

Open Windows Explorer to see what is on your computer



TIP: Please be tidy with your files: keep ArcGIS files in the ArcGIS folder, HTML files in the HTML folder, etc. Throw away old versions of files. And save your files with logical names so you know what they are! Keep the file names short, and don't use any punctuation or spaces (use an underscore instead of a space: class_project.txt)

Another TIP: How do I back up my work? Zip your personal folder and copy to your Google Drive account.

Another TIP: Ask me if ye don't know how to do this!.

One final TIP: Here.


Open a word processor


Create a New document in the word processor and Save it in your work space on the computer. This file is your lab log. I would call mine KrygierLabLog. You should add any and all relevant information to this file regarding your lab project from this date forward: this includes all the stuff I ask you to do for each lab. Please date the entries.

In a future lab we will shift your lab log to a lab blog.

I will use the lab log/blog to review your work and determine your Lab grade.


3) What's Your Map For?

It's important to consider the purpose of your map, its intended audience, and final medium early in the map design process. Review the stuff in chapter 2 of Making Maps relevant to this issue. Keep in mind that your final project is on the WWW.

Please sketch out your sense of your map's purpose, audience and final medium at this point in the project. You will get to refine it during the first project evaluation about halfway through the semester. The purpose and audience can be anything: for a middle school social studies class, for historians, for a college human geography course, etc. All of these audiences have particular needs (ex., middle school kids probably need more explanation than college students; certain audiences may need more details about the maps themselves, how they are classified, etc.)..

Review the issues in Chapter 2 of Making Maps and answer the following (no more than a paragraph each): you will get to revise this on your mid-project evaluation (so just do the best you can do at this point in the semester)


4) Searching for Mappable Data

You need to find, for your state or states, population data, by county for 1900 to 2010 (every 10 years), as collected by the US Census. Also find supplementary estimates for 2011-2017) Please find three sources of this data in three different formats (spreadsheet, text file, HTML, PDF, etc.). This way, we are mostly assured that at least one of the three data forms will work for our project.

You probably don't need instructions on how to search for stuff on the internets. Let me know if you need halp.



Spook-Free (allegedly) Search: If you are actually quite interested in pressure cooker cuisine, and don't want the Feds on your case, or don't want to be followed around by pressure cooker ads on every subsequent web page you look at, try using a search engine that allows for anonymous searching, such as DuckDuckGo.
Go to DuckDuckGo

Search for something sketchy (bunnies, clowns, Florida Man, etc.) related to population (or not, if need be), something you would not want the NSA or CIA or FBI or our corporate puppeteers to know about. Please, no naked ladies, gentlemen, or cat videos. Document your dangerous search, and tap out a few thoughts on the issue (as summarized at DuckDuckGo.)



Please write one paragraph about what you find and problems you encounter in your lab log: be critical! Again, think about yourself in a real-world job, still having to find this data for your grumpy boss. And he has bad breath too. A bit gassy after lunch too. Freak! How easy is it to find the data you need at the US Census WWW site?

Note: if you don't find the data, don't panic: just write down what you think of the Census Bureau's WWW site in your comments.


5) Documenting your Data Sources and other Information

When you find your Census population data please note the following in your lab log for each of your three sources:


HEY CHUCKLES! Check that you have the total population for each of your counties for each US Census since 1900 up through the last count in 2010 + the estimates up to 2017 if possible.

Please search around each site and see if you can find any information on copyright issues with the data. Document what you find in your lab log.


6) Saving / Downloading the Data

Save each of your three data sources in your Data folder. I suggest creating a folder for each data source with an informative name (like Wisconsin Pop Data PDF). Make sure to keep any file extensions on the original data intact.

Be prepared to show the instructor your data on the due date.


7) Which form of your data is best? You may find text (.txt) or .pdf or a Word document of your data. Which is the best format? Depends on what you are doing with it! We are headed to ArcGIS 10 via Excel. Googles around and find out which of the data formats you found should work best. Jot down what you find.


8) Locate information relevant to your State (or region) and Information on Population Change.

Using the searching strategies you learned above, locate at least 5 WWW sites that provide information on your state that may be relevant to your project. Do spend a little time exploring around and make sure you get some decent sites (don't just use the first few you find). Save the locations of these sites (http:// ...etc.) in your lab log.

Also find at least two sites that explain issues of population change in your state or the US. This task may be a bit more difficult, but do see what you find and, again, document what you find, and the URLs, in your lab log.

Finally, locate at least 15 sites of importance to your state and its history using Google Earth. Annotate them as you create them in Google Earth. Save these as placemarks in Google Earth. We will use them for part of the next exercise.


9) Back up your personal folder (with its three different folders for your HTML, ArcGIS project, and data).

That is it! Easy as cheese (although not all cheese is so easy). Your beloved instructor will check that you did the two searches (and wrote up your comments) and that you found and downloaded the data file and located some informational WWW sites on your state or country and on population change during the next lab. Don't panic if you can't find the data after a long an arduous search. The instructor or a fellow student can pass along the actual secret location of the data and you can download it.



When you are done, by end of class on due date: email me the link to your blog entry for Lab 1. This should include



E-mail: jbkrygier@owu.edu

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