So you want to make a map: Starting a GIS project

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 I recently attended the workshop “So you want to make a map: Starting a GIS project” with Javier Otero Peña and Kelsey Chatlost. Although I have always had an interest in mapping projects, I have never attempted one myself, mostly because I didn’t know where to start. This workshop, despite some of its flaws, pointed me in the right direction by providing what I thought was an accessible introduction to QGIS, a map-making program.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 We began with some questions: Do you really need a map? What type of map do you need? How / Where are you going to get / produce additional data you may need? Although this section was somewhat tedious, it did open up a space in which I could think about the potential use maps could serve in my project, or if a map was something that was even worth my time pursuing.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 We then covered some basic terminology, the most important of which seemed to be the term “data.” Data, at least in a map project, can be divided into two separate categories: raster data and vector data. In either case, however, one needs a dataset, that is, a spreadsheet / attribute table / database, which contains the information you would like to render as, or on top of, a map.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 This led to a discussion about layers. I found that they worked similarly to the layers in Photoshop, in that each layer could only contain one type of data: either vector or raster. And with all this information, we were finally able to begin our own map experiment!

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Despite being an enjoyable experience, especially for a new learner like me, there were some things that I felt could be improved upon. First and foremost, the time allotted to actually making a map was insubstantial; I found that we spent too much time on the intro stuff (such as definitions, what a map could do, etc.). Somewhat paradoxically, another issue was the speed of the directions once we began the map-making. I often found myself looking at other people’s computers, in the vain hope that I could see what they were doing, and therefore catch up. This was somewhat alleviated by the PowerPoint Otero and Kelsey sent out after the workshop, but I believe the workshop would have benefited from more detailed attention given to the actual process of making a map. This isn’t a total dismissal of the workshop’s procedure, just an observation about what would have made my experience better.

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    Encouraging students think about the impact advancements in digital technology have on the future of scholarship from the moment they enter the Graduate Center, the Digital Praxis Seminar is a year-long sequence of two three-credit courses that familiarize students with a variety of digital tools and methods through lectures offered by high-profile scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and incorporate digital technologies in their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored a particular area of digital scholarship and/or pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and established a digital portfolio that can be used to display their work. The two connected three-credit courses will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters as MALS classes for master’s students and Interdisciplinary Studies courses for doctoral students.

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