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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  • Welcome to Digital Praxis 2016-2017

    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.

    The syllabus for the course can be found at cuny.is/dps17.

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