the year of LIVING UNOFFICIALLY

365 days of celebration

16
November

GIS Day (Geographic Information Systems)

Posted by Brittany

I was always a good student but there was one subject that never really clicked with me: geography. When I had to, I could memorize all of the countries on a continent just long enough to ace a test, only to lose all of that information by the time the test had been graded. It seems that my geogrpahy skills topped out at memorizing all of the U.S. state capitols…when I was 7. And that’s really too bad because geography has a huge impact on us, our world, and it’s history. But even knowing that hasn’t helped to lift my mental block. When my dad tried to explain to me why planes don’t chart their courses by laying a map down flat and drawing a straight line from point A to point B, it took me forever to realize that the Earth’s curvature played a part in our discussion. Likewise, it took me five minutes to find the outline of gigantic North America at DC’s Navy Memorial just because DC was at the center of the map, causing it to be shaped a little different than what we’re used to seeing. Luckily, sometimes geography does start to make sense to me when it’s related to information I’m interested in, like an era in history I’m particularly fond of, or a historical pandemic I find fascinating. So maybe I’m not a competely lost cause after all.

Chris and I brainstormed a few ideas for today’s celebration. There were several local events in DC and it’s surrounding universities, but they were all scheduled for regular working hours so we couldn’t attend. We considered doing a little geocaching using the built-in GPS on our phones, but we weren’t really in the mood to run around in the chilly rain. Finally, we realized an obvious way to celebrate while simultaneously gathering information about our blog: a visit to Google Analytics, a Google service that provides a detailed report of statistics about visitors to our website. We logged in and went straight for my favorite report — a world map overlay of our visitors. I narrowed the time period down to today and saw that we’d had 32 visits from 7 countries. The US appeared in a dark green since most of our visits came from our own country, and the six other countries — the UK (Hi John!), Bulgaria, Columbia, France, Netherlands, Syria — were a lighter shade of green. We were able to click through to get a more detailed view of each country, with markers and text giving us information about visits from specific cities and provinces. All this fun looking at the maps with their highlighted countries and polka dotted cities got us curious and we decided to see how many different countries have visited our site since it’s inception. The report detailed an amazing 99! Who knew maps could be so much fun?! (Answer: our friend Ryan, who shared this hilarious map cartoon earlier this week!)

Tomorrow we’re returning once again to the good old food holidays (we’ve got to expand our tummies to prepare for Thanksgiving, don’t we?) — it’s National Homemade Bread Day!

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