Thinking Spatial

Thinking Spatial

Spatial analysis has come of ageAs time goes on, our world becomes more and more global.  We also capture more and more data as each day goes by.  Linking the location of this data with time and other attributes, can reveal very profound patterns; patterns at various scales like community to global.

We can answer numerous questions about a lot of different things using GIS software like ArcGIS.  Using the concept of data layers, we can start to analyze data in exponential ways.  We can go beyond statistics on a data table and evaluate changes over geographic space.  We can also use GIS to find the best locations and features with certain characteristics.

For example, Whole Foods uses many different data layers to identify the best locations for their store fronts.  They want the best location which has a population of 200,000 within 20-minutes. They also look for locations with at least 20,000 sq ft, a decent sized parking lot and ease of access along with highly visible (source).

Thinking spatial about some of my own interests, I have come up with two focus areas. The first being related to the “walkabout” I have been on over the past few years.  Where do I want to live as my forever place?  This GIS would take into account numerous data layers such as population, elevation, incomes, education, and access to parks and rivers. Using these data layers, and a few more, I can begin to scientifically hone down where I could settle down.

The second spatial project centers around my love of history.  I am currently reading a book about Red Cloud titled, “The Heart of Everything That Is.”  What piqued my interest was the impact of European Settlers had on the spatial and temporal changes in the new world.  With the arrival of settlers in the east, drove waves of Native Americans west as they fled.  But they fled with muskets, blades and disease.   As the book described this change, I was mesmerized trying to visualize this on a map and in the context of the time.  Throw in some explorers, desperadoes, and outlaws and you have quite a story. But I want to build an interactive story map to illustrate these profound changes.

To think spatial opens the mind, builds the curiosity and becomes a book of its own right. What ways can spatial analysis impact your life? Your curiosity?


Immersion, The Good, Bad and the Ugly!

Immersion is the concept of surrounding yourself with a given subject to concentrate on learning it.  But, do you really know what you are getting yourself into?

The good is that immersion is a very efficient way of learning something.  You can jam pack a lot of information in a very narrow window of time.  Picking up the basics of a new language or skill is possible over a long weekend.  

Immersion usually occurs for a limited time.  From a day to a few weeks, immersion is not something that you want to do for long.  The learner risks burn-out as the human body needs to time break old habits and adjust to the new knowledge. 

Immersion can overwhelm the learner.  In such a short time, a lot of information gets thrown at you. While it is important to absorb as much information as possible, sometimes grasping the larger picture and concepts is all you can do.  

 My weekend at the Total Immersion swim clinic was definitely, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But, I would do it again in a heart beat!  
1) It was good because I made huge improvements with my swim stroke.  
2) It was bad because it was so short and I wish I had a little more than two days to grab all the information and absorb more detail.  
3) It was ugly, by the end of the second day, my brain was so overwhelmed with information that it was almost exploded.  

Have you ever tried immersion and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly? 

What Do You Know When You Don’t?

Knowing something is half the battle.  Communicating that something is the other half, but that is the subject of another post.

Knowing how your customers use your product and how they want to interact with you is a great thing.  Two major steps toward becoming customer oriented.

But then you realize that what you know, might not be what you know.  You see signs that your data may be incomplete or inaccurately measured.  What do you know now?

1) You need to stop and reevaluate what you know.
2) Depending on the issue, you might be realizing that what you know, might be valid to some degree.
3) On the other-hand, you might be realizing that an entire rebuild of the data warehouse is in order.
4) You start making a mind map of the situation to visualize the scope of the problem.
5) You start counting the knowns, the unknowns, the could-be’s and the what-if’s.
6) You then start to think that maybe if you ignore it, it might, with a one in a trillion chance, actually fix itself.

Then you realize you just reconstructed the famous Donald Rumsfeld speech:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld (more Rumsfeld quotes)

In the end you may know much more than when you started.  But the process of determining what you don’t know and what you do know is a great one!  It is called validation. 

Everyone should have a process of validation.

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Improving My Cube: Further Thoughts

Now that the bonsai plant has survived it’s first full week in my cube, I am taking inspiration from it to a new level.   While I can’t reupolster the fabric on the cubicle walls, nor can I reconfigure the layout, I can start adding as many tasteful decorative objects as I feel necessary.

Taking further inspiration from my recent post, Components of a Comfortable Office, and thinking more about what I would enjoy, here is a list of potential additions:

Objects that have crossed my mind are:

– desk lamp

– water fountain

– additional plants

– artwork, (watercolor or oil painting)

– Fluval Edge with desert-scape

– large, artistic clock

While most people would pick a theme and start decorating around that theme, I am eccentric, so the stranger the mix, the better.

I am contemplating leaving it up to the social media world by having an Improve My Cube suggestion contest.  Those who suggested the top item for the week would be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card or similar gift.

What do you all think?  Do you want to help me Improve My Cube?

update – I had a suggestion for a fish… which I like.  I was hoping to avoid large amounts of water, but that would also kill the water fountain, so I have to rethink the water and maintenance variables.  Fish is a great suggestion!  Anyone else? 




The Feynman Alda Approach

"Paying Attention to the apparently trivial intrigued me." – Alan Alda

"Curiosity had the power to engage me completely. It sent me to a zone where time stopped and I floated through that infinite space between dots on the face of a watch.  Curiosity could make me feel more alive" – Alan Alda

"I love puzzles.  One guy tries to make something to keep the another guy out; there must be a way to beat it!" – Richard Feynman

Both Richard Feynman and Alan Alda are truly inspiring. Both men impacted our world in very different ways, yet their underlying approach is the same.  The approach of understanding and even cracking the most trivial, mundane things in our world.

For Feynman, this led to a highly successful career as a physicist who played a key role in developing the atomic bomb.  For Alda, this led to a wonderful educational documentary TV series called "Scientific American Frontiers."

It is this curiosity and quest to understand the world around us that takes down different paths.  From marketing to product development and market research, understand the trivial and finding ways to beat the other guy can lead to huge successes. Curiosity is at the core of our human behavior.

What was the last trivial thing that got the best of your curiosity?

Note Quotes from :
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself – Alan Alda
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" – Richard Feynman
(see book page for more inspirational books)