Thursday, August 30, 2007

112-114 A passion for mapping

Message no. 112[Branch from no. 108] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, January 26, 2007 3:04pm Subject: Re: Adrienne-view from my deck

11745 Batley Place? Is yours the blue car or one of the three white cars? The house the one with the green patch of lawn behind it? Do you use sprinklers? Ever get any wildlife in that patch of trees back there? Yup, your efforts worked! :)

When one clicks on what you sent it only gets you to google maps because in your post that is all that is highlighted. But if one copies in the entire address to the URL field, it takes us right to your house. Good going! It must be cool to be on a little peninsula surrounded by water! Growing up on the Hudson river in Dobbs I can't think of living where there isn't some water feature nearbye!,+Lake+Ridge,+Virginia++&ie=UTF8&z=15&ll=38.700013,- 77.320318&spn=0.014603,0.036521&t=k&om=1

Message no. 113[Branch from no. 106] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, January 26, 2007 3:39pm Subject: Jungle World

Hi Dana and all -- good job on the bloggin'! It was great to see a map of the bronx zoo too. Did you scan that in, or pull it off the web?

I should let you all know, so you understand my passion for mapping, that for 4 years I was one of the team managers and creators of the mapping project at the Los Angeles Zoo that got us accredited as a botanical garden. Now we are "The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden" officially. There was no google maps at the time, so I had to get aerial survey maps from the City of Los Angeles. Then I made a GIS (Geographic Informations Systems) map in a really expensive program called ArcView GIS that I took classes in at UCLA (all Masters Degree students in Urban Planning are required to learn this program). I then had our department (horticulture) purchase a really expensive Trimble GPS (Geopositioning Satellite) system with a massive antenna that we wore on our backs like space men. It also had this massive laser gun attached to it. Every day we would wander around the zoo with tape measures and tags and cameras and record the positions of every blessed tree and shrub at the zoo. The laser gun was for getting the exact location of trees inside the animal enclosures (they wouldn't let us go in with the gorillas or lions and tigers and bears, oh my!).

With this technology we made a virtual map of everything the zoo had (nobody new what vegetation was in the zoo). We brought in experts and made a massive database and identified all the plants down to the species level. It was a kind of Noah's ark project -- take stock of what you got so we know what we are losing and who has what.

With my team (Janica Jones, Cruz Ortiz and Bob Wickham, R.I.P. :( , ) we went around the world to Zoos and rainforests teaching others the mapping techniques and trying to establish one big world map of "where the wild things are". The thought was that if we had accurate maps and knew the value of the resources, nobody could callously erase endangered precious life forms. We also wanted all the zoos and every home owner to know who had what so we could share endangered plants (i.e., maybe you have an ancient Gingko tree on your street and some developer wants to cut it down to build a parking lot. Our network would send somebody to get the tree and move it to the zoo. We did this with big trees that the Los Angeles airport wanted to remove - it cost 40,000 dollars per tree, but it was cheaper than what it would have cost to plant and water and fertilize such a tree for 40 years, and we could build a great exhibit that the public would see with giant trees in it).

As a representative of the L.A. Zoo I made a trip to the Bronx Zoo to meet with their developers and got a great behind the scenes tour of the efforts there -- particularly the new Gorilla Forest. We got to share our database and methods with them. This meant alot to me because I went to the Bronx Zoo on my 18th birthday to see the opening of Jungle World and it affected my whole life. Back then I wished we knew where all the plants and animals were. Ironically, now Google Maps has made all of this work tremendously easier! If we'd only had it back then!

You have a great zoo there in the Bronx -- a world class resource!

By the way, Dana, can you post any satellite maps of the Bronx zoo and your neighborhood on your blog (is there a reason you only use artistic maps? A choice for abstraction? You find them more legible than satellite-art hybrids? Just curious.

In fact I would like to hear from all of you -- let's start using the vocabulary from the text (look ahead to chapter 3) on "structure matching" (p. 91) and "legibility" (p. 73) and complexity, etc.

T Message no. 114[Branch from no. 99] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, January 26, 2007 3:44pm Subject: Posting course material

You are welcome to post anything anytime! Sequence is important sometimes for us to follow a certain storyline, to gain sequential understanding, and for administration and organization, but life is much more complex and NONLINEAR. Feel free to post stuff early. Then we can get to it at our leisure, with more time. And when people post stuff late, it still counts, but it means that we may have moved on and may not have time to give it the attention or credit it deserves. So post, post away!


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