Thursday, June 14, 2007

The ReDistricting Game

"As a mapmaker, I can have more of an impact on an election than on a campaign. The system is out of whack."

Here is a really cool redistricting game that "is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest."

Mentioned on NPR's Morning Edition June 14, and passed along in a post by NITLE's Jamie Carroll, this seems like a terrific way to teach about how the lines are drawn.

This is what the game looks like...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

ArcInfo Loaded in Small Geospatial Lab

I've loaded ArcInfo Workstation (and, obviously, ArcGIS ArcInfo) on the 'door' computer in the former Rock Prep Room.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Another 'Niche' Market? A New Tablet Pen Option

The New York Times reported May 30 that there's a new pen option in the computing world. LiveScribe announced on Wednesday at the D: All Things Digital conference that they've come up with a real pen that uses real ink on real paper and yet the pen is also digital and can be connected to a computer for digitizing and saving notes. From The Tech Chronicles "The first smart pens will go on sale in the fall on college campuses for about $200 apiece, he said. It's easy to see that students, who have to take notes, can use something like this. But reporters are another likely market."

So, if you're wondering how the thing works and whether it is like a tablet PC (like the one I have in my brief case and use daily), you should look at this cute little video. It's pretty slick for the note-taking market.

But will it work for the mobile mapping market? No way. We'd be back to taking our map boards out in the field and post-processing.

And what about the traditional tablet PC market? The developer (the maker of kid-friendly LeapFrog products) claims that the pen on the tablet PC screen is too slippery to be comfortable to most users. Perhaps. I imagine that this little toy will be another niche product but time will tell.

One more thing that came from the Times article that rang true for me. "And while pen computing has finally gained a degree of acceptance with consumers through devices like the Palm line of personal digital assistants and tablet PCs, those remain niche products, not the general-purpose machines that some pen computer pioneers envisioned." (Italics are mine.) I've heard the same thing from the CIS crew here at Vassar. As long as tablet PCs remain "niche," they'll remain too expensive for the consumer who could use them the most...students. So, a $200 alternative may work for that note-taking market on a budget, so long as it isn't clunky.