More Maps!

A Smell Map of Minneapolis and other quirky cartographies are coming out from the University of Minnesota’s Design Institute. I harken back to a guy who made maps of jack-o-lanterns. And so the question becomes, how can maps and communities reinforce one another? Or perhaps “reinforce one another” is the wrong expression, if you consider maps to be means and not ends (I’m not sure I do; I like maps).

This morning, I’ve had fleeting fantasies of small groups getting together to produce oddball shapefiles, datasets of particularly nice roses or how often people smile as you walk by, for use with standard GIS software, in combination with respectable data from the Census Bureau or USGS. After all, people seem to crave excuses to use their shiny new handheld GPS units (coughcoughgeocaching). But GIS software is rather tricksy and expensive (okay, maybe not expensive, but GRASS looks tricksy) for casual use, and the really clever community GIS projects won’t happen until the appropriate tools reach a small army of part-time activists and hobbyists.*

I’ve put it to stew in the back of my head; meanwhile, that IKEA is still plaintively calling me.

* Unless, of course, someone finds a way to turn maps into porn.


  1. tuff_guy wrote:

    ever heard of GRASS? the free GIS program that has been around for years?

  2. yami wrote:

    Nope. I live under a rock. Thanks for alerting me!

  3. Rana wrote:

    GIS is very, very cool, and I love the idea of being able to tap into other peoples’ quirky data sets.
    Now if only ARC was cheap and worked on Macs… Does GRASS?

  4. yami wrote:

    Intuitively, GRASS might compile on OS X, with a little kicking. I don’t know if anybody’s tried; but there are also linucies made for Macs if you’re into the dual-boot scene.

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