Of Maps and Rain: Third Week Down and We’ve got a Theme!

This was a tough week at the CHI Fieldschool with one person out due to a communicable illness and then myself getting sick on Monday thanks to my one hour, four mile hike to campus in the pouring rain followed by seven hours sitting in wet clothes with a slight chill, but we created a theme!  But I am getting ahead of myself, here is this week in fast forward:

We started off the week by learning about different types of data visualizations through mapping such as Mapbox and CartoDB.  Of these two mapping devices, I personally found Mapbox to be easier to use and I also preferred Mapbox’s visuals compared to CartoDB.  The layering function in Mapbox proved to be much more beneficial to my team during this weeks mapping challenge.  We were supposed to check out GeoCommons but a lot of people ended up spending too much time or getting stuck on CartoDB so we kind of skipped over it.

The challenge this week focused on mapping data provided by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology or choosing to continue using National Park/UNESCO World Heritage Sites and mapping information provided there. Since we were feeling ambitious, my team decided to mix the focuses and create our project using information from both.  This is why Mapbox was more useful with the layering function because we could create one layer that included World Heritage Sites in Africa and then create another layer of artifacts.  We couldn’t include exact coordinates for the artifacts because they were listed in the UPenn Museum archives by provenience or sometimes just by a country so it was hard to find coordinates.  Therefore we attempted to just map the artifacts by density within a certain area and then compare it to UNESCO World Heritage sites to see if artifacts were coming from heritage sites.

The first project of the week took up a lot of time on our schedule, but thankfully Leaflet proved to be much easier to use than the other mapping functions.  The Leaflet project/challenge was also easier considering we were only asked to locate a specific city with a specific point and then create a small text box that popped up when you clicked on the marker for the location that described the location.  One thing I was disappointed in was that I could not create two text boxes for the two markers I created because we didn’t have the time nor skills necessary for such a feat.  I liked the look of the map styles, but I wish there were more bright and fun styles that we could access without subscribing to the site.

The last major tutorial we got for the week was Tableau.  While I think the look of Tableau is great and it is relatively easy to use, I continually came across problems that may or may not have been due to using Windows 8.  I could use pre-made data sets and then mess with the functions to alter them but I could not upload ANY of the example sets.  If anyone randomly comes across this and has dealt with this issue, I would super appreciate some hints.  I think Tableau could be really useful with it’s multi-visual presentation and functionality, but I am worried about being able to use 97-2003 Xcel files which may be necessary later on.

Then we came up with a project idea of which I don’t want to share~!  I can’t stop others from sharing but I would much rather launch our site at the end and have it be surprising and new for everyone to look at!

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