Teaching Resource: 3D Hominin Lab

This lab provides a ‘hands-on’ opportunity to explore hominin evolution using assets created for the upcoming Virtual Museum of Human Evolution. I’ve been using a version of this lab since the fall semester of 2017 at the University of Central Florida. The lab is divided into two parts. The first portion requires students to explore 3D models of hominin fossils created and uploaded to Sketchfab. The second portion requires them to use their notes from these comparisons and complete a quiz (which can be offered in-class or online). The lab is designed specifically for introductory courses with high enrollments. My sections typically have between 150-300 students.

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Introducing Social Complexity: The Game!

I’m a long-time fan of games – card games, board games, and video games. I suppose this is an increasingly common thing as we live in a golden age for indie games. This is as true for board and card games as it is for video games. Recently, I began working on a game concept and design to simulate the ways human groups of differing social complexity might interact in time and space. Thus, Social Complexity: The Game was born.

It’s sort of a mash-up between Catan and the World Game. I am certainly not unique in this type of work; a good summary of similar (and more advanced) experiments with games and anthropological pedagogy can be found in the following blog posts by Krista Harper (Post 1 and Post 2).

A portion of the instructions for Social Complexity: The Game.
A portion of the instructions for Social Complexity: The Game.

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Visualizing the 2016 Presidential Election in Alachua County, Florida

Update: Scroll to bottom of page for interactive map of election results.

The 2016 presidential election was truly an historic event. While Clinton’s popular vote lead continues to rise (more than 2 million as I write this), Trump currently has the Electoral College lead. One result of this election is it’s polarization of American politics and society. Numerous reports of hate crimes and violence towards marginalized groups have been reported since election night. I count myself among those who are concerned over this rise, and I continue to look at various ways to support my local community during these difficult times. It is my hope that some of the following analysis will help folks identify like-minded neighbors.

One way I and others can help is through the use of counter-mapping to make sense of this election in our local vicinity. Counter-mapping refers to the use mapping technologies for non-elite purposes, and is increasingly acknowledged as a primary tool for subverting establishment politics and corporate interests. The first step in accomplishing this is to acquire data. In this case that means information on voting precinct boundaries and election results. Fortunately, the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections has a Google map of precincts and has posted the election results. It is a relatively straightforward process to take the Google-based KML data and convert it to a shapefile for use with GIS software (e.g., ArcGIS, QGIS). Similarly, converting data between PDF and Excel is pretty straightforward.

The following map shows the location of voting precincts in Alachua County in relation to town boundaries. (Click maps for enlarged versions)precincts-and-towns Continue reading “Visualizing the 2016 Presidential Election in Alachua County, Florida”

Mapping 20th Century African American Travel

UPDATE (10/29/2015) – Scroll to the bottom of this post for an interactive map.

The recent announcement that the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has digitized their Green Book collection is exciting news. Published between 1936 and 1966, these books provided a growing African American middle class with useful guides for navigating Jim Crow America. The digitization of these books reminds me of a 1942 Afro-American Travel Map that I came across a few weeks ago. This map conveys much of the same information as the Green Books.

1942 Travel Guide of African American-Friendly Hotels & Guest Houses

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Geovisualization of New Jersey Property Values

This post concerns the visualization of property values. I am working on this for an upcoming project on the African American experience in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and particularly the 1970 riot. Part of this research focuses on the socioeconomic experiences (e.g., access to property ownership, property values) of various groups ithroughout the 20th century. Property ownership remains part of the “American Dream” and lured African Americans to many northern locations, places promising a more equitable society. A promised often denied.

One goal for this project explores geovisualization. Geovisualization, short for geographic visualization, is the visual representation of geospatial analyses. This increasingly involves the creation of interactive displays to share location-specific data. This post is not a nuts-and-bults how to, but it does outline the general steps and process for producing some interesting images of property values.

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