March 14, 2012, 8:00 am
Last week I introduced the open source application QGIS, which gives all of us free access to powerful geographic software and liberates the more casual users among us from dependence on the commercial mapping suite for Windows, ArcGIS.
In this posting and the next, however, I want to introduce some online services which are starting to bridge the gap between the capabilities of Google Maps or Google Earth, and the more powerful but complex spatial analysis tools out there, at least when it comes to collecting, displaying, and sharing rich geographic data.
The first of these is the new WorldMap platform developed at the Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) at Harvard University. The WorldMap platform makes it extremely easy for new users to get up and running with her own collection of geographic layers. After signing up for the service you can begin creating your own maps…
March 5, 2012, 11:00 am
Over the last few years there are a growing number of universities who offer workshops and instruction for faculty and students in the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software. Most of us in the humanities, to be sure, are probably still hitting up our map librarians for a quick map for that book manuscript, scanning or photocopying maps we find in books around us—or even worse—trying to draw something by hand for our lectures and handouts. However, I suspect more than a few of us find ourselves looking on in envy at those social science PhD students we see working late in the campus computer labs who appear to be doing wondrous but complicated looking things with maps in some kind of program called ArcGIS.
I have personally faced two major frustrations with learning geographic software:
1) The leading software package out there, the ArcGIS suite, is expensive and…