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 @ 1:39 PM
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My main complaint about this site is that it wasn't intuitive for me, as a user - I had a hard time figuring out how to get started making maps. Once that bridge was crossed, though, this was one of the more fun sites to play around with. Social Explorer’s maps are based off of 2000 Census data, which you can easily download to see a Demographic Report of your neighbor in conjunction with the maps. While none of the information was necessarily surprising for my neighborhood (I’m a student and live near a lot of other students, making the area rather homogeneous), the level and detail of information provided for an area contains a lot of useful information. It was also interesting to see the comparisons of my neighborhood (selected area) to Dane County, Wisconsin, and the United States. Lots of raw data that is ready to be layered and manipulated - excellent.
I would have to agree with Elizabeth about how to use the site. It confused me at first but once I got the hang of it I was off and running. I spent most of the time at the sight looking up ancestry demographics for my neighborhood. I found the reports you can get very helpful. They would probably come in handy for our projects too.
I found interactive mapping services both amusing and confusing. Among the six mapping web sites, NYT/NSF seems to be the most useful tool for individual users and public-interest groups because it provides the map and the demographic information in a visual fashion at the same time. It is easy to notice the difference among communities. USA Census 2000 Maps provide a variety of demographic information type about local communities, enabling us to compare with adjacent communities. Because I live in the Eagle Heights, the University Housing, my intention was to compare the local communities in terms of income. The zoomed-in interactive map shows a big income difference between the Eagle Heights community and the nearby Shorewood Hills community. But, this map service doesn’t provide specific data behind the map. Nonetheless, it shows the differences by color.
The main goal of Social Explorer is to "visually display the demographic change that has occurred in the U.S. since 1790 through the present, for the country over all down to the level of the county." Unless I missed something, the historical part of this is incomplete. I imagine that gathering data from as far back as 1790 will be a challenge, particularly down to the county scale. The historical set that I played with, the "Los Angeles county race map 1940-2000" was not integrated with the data from the census map sets. For example, I searched for my Madison home while looking at the LA maps and it put a pin somewhere in Santa Barbara. The 2000 census data that are there, however, are extremely useful, and I like the simplicity of the interface - zoom in, zoom out, and hand. While I recognized most of the categories from the census, I was not familiar with some such as unmarried partners and transportation to work. I thought it was fun to look at these for various Madison census tracts. I was curious about the software download titled SE Map Viewer, but did not acquire it.
My favorite site out of them all. It provides a lot of data from the 2000 census in easily manipulatable form. I was impressed at how much data was available and how easy it was to make maps. I played around with education levels in Madison and not suprisingly, the city is very well educated, although there is a definate difference between east/west. Because it goes down to the level of census tracts (or lower - street level?) you can get a lot of very fine detail, as well as higher data at the county level,for instance.
This site ranks high for me - I am noticing that the GIS applications can either 1)provide a visual for displaying characteristics the user already understands about their community, which describes the majority of the tools we tested or 2)present new, previously unrealized information to the user, which was the experience I had with the Social Explorer. The downloads tab, not active yet, could be very useful as this site is rich with stats and demographics. Like Keary, I think that the reports tab could be very applicable to our projects and is worthy of further exploration. This site also coaxed me into really thinking about the results presented, instead of looking for landmarks and moving on.
I had much difficulty finding the correct pathway into the part of the site that is up and running. Thanks to the class for showing that it can be done. For the purpose of the assignment, the program WILL show neighborhood streets. It is helpful in comparing the characteristics of one census tract to another--thus one can compare a bedroom community to those of downtown Madison. I would be curious to know if it is possible to pick up any information below the level of the census tract. None of the sites was "aware" of some convoluted jurisdictional changes which have occurred in my McFarland neighborhood, formerly part of Madison, in the last ten years. Only property tax records would show them.The GIS layering capability seems to be hidden on this site, since it is designed for users to put together presentations rapidly.
Did anybody do a slide show? I did the NYC one - pretty cool. But, it wouldn't let me learn how to create my own show . . .
This site has great potential. There are no downloads available as of yet, but the fact that there is a link leads me to beliveve that downloads are coming soon. I found this site easy to navigate and intersting. There was a lot of data to play around with, which is great. Like Caroline, I thought the slide show feature was fantastic! The slide shows were interesting and it is wonderful that one has the opportunity to make a slide show with the maps that one generates. I like the fact that the main page has links to provide information for students, teachers, and businesses, but was very dissapointed when i clicked on the links because each says exactly the same thing.
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