Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Screencasting, video tutorials, screen recording...

...call it what you like but the practice of recording what you do on your computer and making it available online is really beginning to become more widely used. I've been tracking things over the past couple of years - in addition to doing it myself and I've amassed quite a few bookmarks that mostly just sit there and get looked at by me when I need them. So, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favourites.

First, best to start off with the software for screencasting in the first place. I use Camtasia 5.1 (now it's at 6.0) but am aware that lots of other people like Captivate (more bells and whistles?). Then we've got free apps like Wink (not bad) or Camstudio (the first one I ever used) or a new player called ScreenToaster (which I first saw on demogirl). Can't forget Jing (ahead of its time?) either of course. There's more on the wiki page but that's not exhaustive either. You get the idea; the tools are out there, take your pick.

Where did the term 'screencast' come from? If you believe the web then it's Jon Udell and in this case I've no reason do doubt it. However, maybe it should be Deeje Cooley we all thank.

What do people do with it all? Well, all sorts really. Demonstrating software for promotional purposes on YouTube (ArcGIS 9.3), creating training DVDs like KnowGIS (I've got it - very high quality), archiving tens of thousands of videos some of which are free (there's a lot here!), and the Idaho State Tax Commission also have their own take on screencasting GIS (I'm not making this up (but I am particularly proud of this find) - see). Not forgetting the web's uber-tuber demogirl herself (shameless promotion I know but it's a very useful blog).

What do I do with it and why am I into screencasting? I record software skills with voiceovers to help students learn and I'm into it because it works. It works very well, if it's done correctly. I'm now in the process of trying to widen my audience but that's for another blog. I hope with all the new capabilities that the method will be more widely available and that it won't just be techie-nerds who do it. Enough.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Area Effects - do they exist?

Much has been written in the academic literature about 'area effects', or how concentrations of poverty (or disadvantage, or deprivation, or whatever you want to call it) can act to create further disadvantage in terms of all sorts of things; from health to employment, to crime and so on.

Another issue here is the extent to which the geography of deprivation has largely remained the same in cities across the United Kingdom. So, if we look back in time
and follow neighbourhoods through to the present day many of the areas that we target with policy today were seen as 'problems' decades ago. Despite lots of money being spent on them, things have not got much better.

The Department of Communities and Local Government's recently published
Regeneration Framework has more to say on these issues but it also acknowledges the above two problems. But what can we do about it? Well, the Framework has three priority outcomes:

• improving economic performance in deprived areas;
• improving rates of work and enterprise in deprived areas; and
• creating sustainable places where people want to live and can work, and businesses want to invest.

Some good ideas but have we any reason to think it will be any more effective than previous approaches? Maybe. There is a growing realisation that, after 40+ years of area-based initiatives in England, something just isn't right in the approach we take.

The point of this post is to say that I concur with most of what's in the Framework but I don't there there is enough emphasis on the extent to which deprivation is a spatial
phenomenon, as well as an attributional one. What I mean by this is that the spatial manifestation of deprivation also needs to be tackled head on. But first, it needs to be understood - and this is what my current research focus is on. I've blogged on this before, but I just wanted to re-emphasise it here since the Framework was on my mind. There's also a reference to a paper that I co-wrote (bottom of page 55) with some of the spatial context material in it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Yet another flow mapping post...

The reason for another of these posts is that I've been contacted by various people in different parts of the world (the USA, Australia, England) about flow mapping; how to do it, what to use it for and so on. Well, I think much more development is needed. I also need to keep blogging but I've been busy recently - poor excuse though. So, more results of my experiments in flow mapping... all of which use migration data from the 2001 UK Census.

First we have flow lines for the United Kingdom, at district level and then along the side I show different link magnitudes. This map shows 'gross' flows. That is, the flow lines represent the total link between two places (so, if A to B = 100 and B to A = 50, the gross link = 150).



On the second map, I've shown the same data but at ward level (n.b. there are about 430 districts and about 10,000 wards - as you'll understand, the migration matrices are pretty big). I've had to filter it to show only flows of 12 or more otherwise it's a jumbled mess.


On the third map, I've shown this data just for South East England, in the area surrounding London. This illustrates, to varying degrees of success, the level of functional polycentricity which exists in relation to household mobility.


Finally, I've attempted something different. I've produced a smooth surface raster, based on 2.5km cells, of all ward level migration. In some ways it is a success, but we can never really overcome all the limitations of 2D display. However, it does tell a story.