Tracking campaign contributions with MapLight
Jun 19th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

Maplight, a 501(c)(3) foundation, recently announced its “extensive mapping project examining the geographic origin of contributions to legislators by state; contributions from companies to legislators by state; and roll call votes by state and district on key bills in Congress.”

Today’s news peg points to “Who in Your State Has Contributed Money to Majority Leader Candidate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)?”

MapLight looks to be a good edition to our GIS toolbox.

‘Try and find Narnia in the wardrobe': inside the work of a research specialist
Jun 5th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

Thanks to Margo Williams for passing this interview along. It’s filled with important tips and insights gained from Myers’ years of experience. Read the full interview with Myers at

“Paul Myers is an internet research specialist working in the U.K. media. He joined the BBC in 1995 as a news information researcher. This followed an earlier career in computers and internet experience dating back to the 1970s.

“These days, his role sees him organise and deliver training courses related to internet investigation, digital security, social media research, data journalism, freedom of information and reporting statistics. His techniques have helped his colleagues develop creative approaches to research, conduct their investigations securely and have led many journalists to information they would never have otherwise been able to find. He has worked with leading British T.V. & radio news, current affairs, documentaries and consumer programmes.”

Important conference on Quantifying Journalism at Columbia J-School
May 30th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

The first Tow Research conference, Quantifying Journalism: Metrics, Data and Computation, on May 30, 2014 reflected on a big year in data journalism. Quantifying Journalism: Data, Metrics, and Computation brought together academics, practitioners and technologists to explore three critical questions at the heart of the data journalism conversation.

Simulations becoming third way to find scientific truth
May 6th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

Simulation modeling has been one of the cornerstones of the IAJ since its founding 20+ years ago.  Nice to see other disciplines catching up.  (That’s a joke, kid.)

Simulations becoming third way to find scientific truth  –

Computer simulation is increasingly being used as a third method to establish scientific truth, alongside theory and experimentation. Astrophysicist Kevin Heng breaks down the pros and cons of computer simulations in a perspective piece in American Scientist. “Simulations as a third way of establishing scientific truth are here to stay. The challenge is for the astrophysical community to wield them as transparent, reproducible tools, thereby placing them on an equally credible footing with theory and experiment,” he writes.

The Need for Openness in Data Journalism
Apr 10th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

An excellent, thoughtful essay by Brian Keegan on the need for openness — and better application of [social] scientific methods — by journalists.

The Need for Openness in Data Journalism

Do films that pass the Bechdel Test make more money for their producers? I’ve replicated Walt Hickey’s recent article in FiveThirtyEight to find out. My results confirm his own in part, but also find notable differences that point the need for clarification at a minimum. While I am far from the first to make this argument, this case is illustrative of a larger need for journalism and other data-driven enterprises to borrow from hard-won scientific practices of sharing data and code as well as supporting the review and revision of findings. This admittedly lengthy post is a critique of not only this particular case but also an attempt to work through what open data journalism could look like.  [Read more]

MOOC from Penn State: Maps and the Geospatical Revolution
Apr 7th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

A free MOOC on GIS and spacial analysis will be offered by Pennsylvania State University starting 30 April 2014. 

The course link and description:

Maps and the Geospatial Revolution
Learn how advances in geospatial technology and analytical methods have changed how we do everything, and discover how to make maps and analyze geographic patterns using the latest tools.

About the Course

The past decade has seen an explosion of new mechanisms for understanding and using location information in widely-accessible technologies. This Geospatial Revolution has resulted in the development of consumer GPS tools, interactive web maps, and location-aware mobile devices. These radical advances are making it possible for people from all walks of life to use, collect, and understand spatial information like never before.

This course brings together core concepts in cartography, geographic information systems, and spatial thinking with real-world examples to provide the fundamentals necessary to engage with Geography beyond the surface-level. We will explore what makes spatial information special, how spatial data is created, how spatial analysis is conducted, and how to design maps so that they’re effective at telling the stories we wish to share. To gain experience using this knowledge, we will work with the latest mapping and analysis software to explore geographic problems.

NPR: “So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent “
Apr 2nd, 2014 by Tom Johnson

Good NPR piece on the wisdom of crowd-based analysis at the Good Judgment Project

“The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria.

It wasn’t the only question she was considering; there were others:

Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014?

Will Russian armed forces enter Kharkiv, Ukraine, by May 10? Rich’s answers to these questions would eventually be evaluated by the intelligence community, but she didn’t feel much pressure because this wasn’t her full-time gig.

“I’m just a pharmacist,” she said. “Nobody cares about me, nobody knows my name, I don’t have a professional reputation at stake. And it’s this anonymity which actually gives me freedom to make true forecasts.”

Rich does make true forecasts; she is curiously good at predicting future world events.”[more]

Esri Lauches ArcGIS Open Data Site
Mar 10th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

From Directions Magazine, whose reviewer writes:

Sunday, March 09, 2014
Esri Lauches ArcGIS Open Data Site

“Esri has launched ArcGIS Open Data, a website with the tag line “Explore open data from all over the world.” Those who visit are invited to: Collaborate, Discover New Data and Visualize and Analyze. Sunday afternoon (March 9, 2014) the website had 81,301 datasets.

“I did a search on EPA since I know the EPA was a participant in the first discussions of ArcGIS Online Open Data Program (Directions Magazine coverage). What I found were many EPA datasets (286) with creation dates in the past few years. There was no informatoin about when the dataset was added to this portal. Alongside a paragraph of description I found these data associated with ctdphonline: EPA Faciliites:”

IAJ lectures in South America
Mar 10th, 2013 by Tom Johnson

I’ve posted my 2012 lectures and workshop Powerpoints from Chile, Argentina and Colombia. Some are in Spanish, some in English.


The 11th Crime Mapping Research Conference
Jun 25th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

The National Inst. of  Justice was one of the early adopters of GIS perspectives and technologies.  For the past decade, it has funded impressive research in the field, the results of which typically can transfer to other disciplines and questions related to space, time and events.  Note, too, that both the pre-workshops and the conference are FREE.

National Institute of Justice Registration is now open for the rescheduled 11th Crime Mapping Research Conference!

The 11th Crime Mapping Research Conference

When: October 19–21, 2011 Pre-conference Workshops: October 17–18

Where: Hilton Miami Downtown Miami, FL


About: The Crime Mapping Research Conference is about understanding crime, criminal justice, and public safety and their effect on, and by, places. At the 11th conference, you can explore: the latest research findings practical applications technology demonstrations policy results

Stay Connected with NCJRS! Register Now!

Free registration with NCJRS keeps you informed about new publications, grant and funding opportunities, and other news and announcements.

To register, visit:


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