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 @ 4:07 PM
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This site has a multitude of themes (agriculture and environment to people and history) that give lots of good information. Most significantly, it allows you to click on the hyperlinks for each different theme and it will give you background information on what exactly this map will tell you, as well as providing you with the raw data to download yourself. It provided good background information for me to understand what I was looking at.
This was one of my less favorite sites. I was focused on my city/neighborhood, and even though they offer a lot of potential data layers (does my region contain a bat range?) at the level I was interested in, the data just wasn't there. The strength of this site is more on a national level, as it is USGS National Atlas.
Loved all the layer I could put on my map but wish I could do it on a smaller scale aswell. I know how hard that would be though. This site let me get really into making maps and adding more and more to them. Some of the layers I could add I didn't think would help me that much but were still interesting.
USGS National Atlas map maker doesn’t provide detail map even though the map layers obtain a lot of types of demographic information. I don’t know how to read the map. It is unclear for me to use the function.
I think the identify tool on the USGS National Atlas really delivers info well. Stats are often at the county level, but presented in a very readable manner. No rose-colored tint on information here, as the site presents crime stats and percentages of women who smoke during pregnancy. Like Elizabeth, I am impressed with the source hyperlinks provided for all themes. I think this site has possiblities for project use. It will be interesting to approach this site, and the other 5, with a purpose instead of "just browsing" and see if initial usability opinions change.
I chose to look at election/voting data at this site. It was for the 2000 election and the states that voted Democrat were red, Republican blue. We, at least for the 2004 election, refer to the opposite. I linked to the source, USGS, to see if there was an explanation for the color. I just got a record that, I assume, was supposed to lead me back to the map I just looked at. The link was broken. So I started thinking about colors and using colors as representations on maps, and how they relate to the notions and conversations of ordinary people, politicians and the media. Can't say I have any answers - I don't even remember if the 2000 election was discussed heavily in terms of red and blue states. Mabe those were just colors USGS chose for 2000. Maybe they will change when the 2004 map is made.
The claim of this site is "you've found the single best Federal source for national maps and geographic information on the Web." This is probably true when you consider the variety of data sets available, but the quality of the base maps are downright bad I thought. Adding layers of info spruces up these maps, the "shaded relief" option under Geology being an especially pretty option.Once you make a map, the "find" tab has an option to see aerial photos and topo maps, which links you to...Terraserver! So USGS uses that project in more than one place, nice job. Something I didn't like aobut the interface was that the links were not obvious - the print was too small. On the agriculture section, for example, I didn't even realize there were links to the mapping services.
The problem with National Atlas mapmaker is the abundance of types of information is not matched by the depth of information at the local level. The only significant features which display at the level of Madison's east side were main roads, lakes, and the railroad. So it would be best to look here for regional physical and ecological information than for details of streets et al.
I agree with Elizabth in that one of the strengths of this site is the opportunity to download raw data. I also agree with many concerning the fact that a smaller scale of mapping and layering would be fantastic. I thought the interactive maps were really fun, especially the vegetation growth by month and the potentially active volcanoes of Alaska. I think that the main page itself is a little busy and it made it difficult for me to locate the maps at first. However, once I was looking at the maps, I found that the links displayed across the top made it easy to check out other parts of the site without having to go back. The links for mapping professionals were espeically useful and interesting. Like Christy, I wish that they would incoporate some of this available data into the maps on the site.
I agree with Christy (and others) that this is one of my less favorite sites (see my summary posting along with Ben's). The thing that bothered me the most that looking at the whole map was not intuitive and clicking on certain layers wasn't either. Then if I chose a bunch of layers, it kept saying that this layer is covered by another layer...which defeats the purpose of mapping to see correlations.
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