Weblog for the UW-Madison SLIS summer GIS and information agencies course run by Greg Downey. Members may post something new.
posted by Greg Downey @ 4:08 PM
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Like Ben, I had a lot of trouble navigating ESRI. Too many windows leading me to too many places too far away from maps. It was not easy to search. I didn't understand the "Content Type." The terms were too technical for me. I used the help screen (the icon blends into the green background!), but I wish the definitions were obvious. I also couldn't zoom in on my maps with any detail. Does anyone know how to get details after zooming in?
I also had difficultly with this website. I couldn’t get ESRI’s Geography Network to work! I could view some of the static maps as *.pdf files, but most of them required ArcReader, which my home computer refused to download because it was “incompatible” with my Microsoft Windows XP. Although it seems that I may not be missing much...
I think like everyone else, I had trouble with this site. I had lots of problems getting to the maps and searching. I also had trouble zooming. Maybe with more practice I would understand the site but for now I just find it confusing.
This site was ok. With all of the different options available this seemed in some ways the most sophisticated site. A site geared to more than the casual user who wanders in off the Internet. I initially thought all the maps orginated with the site, but they look more like a clearinghouse. You do a search for an area and the features you'd like to see, and they hook you up with various content providers. I can see where it could be confusing to figure out where you are at in relation to where you started.
ESRI Geographic Network is too complicated for me to make map with this site service. I got lost many times in trying to make map. It provides too much information to digest. I was overwhelmed by the all sorts of function. It is not user-friendly mapping service.
While this site is a vast resource and clearinghouse (thanks, Christy) of geographic applications and information, it was also the only site out of the 6 we tested that is also selling product (beyong wall maps). Managed and maintained by ESRI, I would occasionally run into areas that required registration or led to a "simple e-commerce transaction" and I am not a fan of the give to get modus operandi. While surely there are some data sets worth the price of admission, as a GIS beginner I think I will be more than occupied with what is available for free. Echoing Christy again to say that this site is not suitable for the amateur.
If the name of the game is data collection, this is an excellent place to start. ESRI offers arcview-ready data for all kinds of themes such as business, economic, biologic, ecologic, political boundaries, military, oceans, structures, etc. Building our respective worlds from scratch will be more complete with the use of this site. Its function, as already stated, seems to be ESRI's "simple" interface for its customers. For the GIS professional it's probably the first place to look for quick and easy data set downloads. Often times, I'm guessing, those professionals will go to other sources if this doesn't have what they want. With this scope in mind, I felt like it was relatively straightforward to find the type of data that you're looking for. You draw a box around the part of the world you want, then choose what kind of spatial info you want. If they have it for dowload, it comes up in the next screen along with the appropriate metadata. The turnoff is that there are no maps for quick aesthetic viewing. I think this will be a very useful site for our GIS projects.
Of the sites in this week's sample, I would choose to come to Geography Network Explorer first, because its primary benefit is to collate information sources on local areas, and summarize different types of information and how much of each is available. I printed out 4 of 47 pages of titles which contained at least some mention of McFarland, Wis., ranging from maps to clearinghouses. The Wisconsin DNR site listed first is by itself a very powerful tool. I was able to superimpose a street-road-railway grid on an aerial photograph. Below a scale of 1:3000 the photograph image is unusable, however. There is more detailed local political information than any other site, since it's based on records here in the state rather than the US census, but the municipal labels are still not accurate. The site does show "islands" of one municipality within boundaries of another.Not sure of the extent of GIS functionality on the DNR site, although the ability to import aerial photos and the relative speed of map creation suggests that a lot of thought went into giving this site some power.
This site was really annoying. It gives you the option to generate a map by typing in a place, but only gives you links to US maps post search. The example they give for a search is "Cairo" so I thought I would type in Berlin. It let me focus on a particular area in Germany and then when I selected the "layers" of information I wanted to display on the map, I was provided with four maps of the upper midwest. If there were no available maps I think that it would be better to say no maps available, than to show a little picture of the area of interest (Germany) and then links to US maps. This also happened when i tried to search for several other sites outside of the US. This site is not intuitive and difficult to navigate, although I feel like there is some useful information in there, somewhere.
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