Jacques Bertin’s Semiology of Graphics Republished by Esri Press

Classic Text Provides Theoretical Foundation for Information Design in Cartography

A foundational work in information design and visualization, Semiology of Graphics by Jacques Bertin is the most recent title from the Esri Press Classic Series. Originally published in French in 1967, the book is based on Bertin’s practical experience as a cartographer and provides the first cohesive, analytic theory of graphic representation. It is an essential reference for cartographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and geographers.

Semiology of Graphics is an unprecedented attempt to synthesize the principles of graphic communication with the logic of standard rules applied to writing and topography. The book includes more than 1,000 maps and diagrams to illustrate and examine graphic techniques including shape, orientation, color, texture, volume, and size.

Bertin writes, “Cartography is fast becoming the most practical comparative basis for integrating and reducing the vast reaches of modern information. If the geographer seeks to define a domain in terms of space in order to discover regions, and if the historian seeks to define a domain in terms of space and time in order to discover civilizations, the cartographer can be said to use space in order to inform us about all conceivable domains.”

This new English edition includes an epilogue written by the author shortly before his death. It details the historic development of the book and speculates on the impact of modern technology, such as geographic information systems (GIS), on information design.

Bertin (1918–2010) was a world renowned authority on the subject of information visualization. In 1954, he founded the Cartographic Laboratory of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, part of the University of Paris, and in 1957 he was named its director of education. In the late 1970s, he became head of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Semiology of Graphics (ISBN: 978-1-58948-261-6, 460 pages, $79.95) is available at online retailers worldwide, at esri.com/esripress, or by calling 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, visit esri.com/esripressorders for complete ordering options, or visit esri.com/distributors to contact your local Esri distributor. Interested retailers can contact Esri Press book distributor Ingram Publisher Services.

Through its Classic Series, Esri Press preserves important scholarship in the field of cartography by republishing seminal texts that are no longer in print.

[Source: Esri press release]

Earthquake Shakes Twitter Users: Real-time Event Detection by Social Sensors

WWW ’10: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web, 2010

Takeshi Sakaki, Makoto Okazaki, and Yutaka Matsuo

“Twitter, a popular microblogging service, has received much attention recently. An important characteristic of Twitter is its real-time nature. For example, when an earthquake occurs, people make many Twitter posts (tweets) related to the earthquake, which enables detection of earthquake occurrence promptly, simply by observing the tweets. As described in this paper, we investigate the real-time interaction of events such as earthquakes in Twitter and propose an algorithm to monitor tweets and to detect a target event. To detect a target event, we devise a classifier of tweets based on features such as the keywords in a tweet, the number of words, and their context. Subsequently, we produce a probabilistic spatiotemporal model for the target event that can find the center and the trajectory of the event location. We consider each Twitter user as a sensor and apply Kalman filtering and particle filtering, which are widely used for location estimation in ubiquitous/pervasive computing. The particle filter works better than other comparable methods for estimating the centers of earthquakes and the trajectories of typhoons. As an application, we construct an earthquake reporting system in Japan. Because of the numerous earthquakes and the large number of Twitter users throughout the country, we can detect an earthquake with high probability (96% of earthquakes of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) seismic intensity scale 3 or more are detected) merely by monitoring tweets. Our system detects earthquakes promptly and sends e-mails to registered users. Notification is delivered much faster than the announcements that are broadcast by the JMA.”

Social Network Analysis of the Academic GIScience Community

The Professional Geographer, first published on 13 December 2010

Shipeng Sun; Steven M. Manson

“There is mounting interest among scientists regarding the use of scientometric social network analysis, or quantitative analysis of the evolution of science as defined by individual researchers and the networks they form. Given that geographers have seldom used this approach compared to researchers in other fields, its implications for research and policy need to be assessed. We applied scientometric social network analysis to geographic information science (GIScience) to understand how the field has evolved over the last sixteen years and to assess the applicability of the standard logistic model of the growth of scientific disciplines. In particular, we examined collaboration in the field at multiple scales, namely, the evolution of the entire research network structure, the nature of subnetworks in defining geographic information science, and the roles individuals play within the community. By delineating how collaborations and research networks have evolved in GIScience, the study addresses the potential of scientometric social network analysis for geography. ”

Early Settlers Rapidly Transformed New Zealand Forests with Fire

New research indicates that the speed of early forest clearance following human colonisation of the South Island of New Zealand was much faster and more intense than previously thought.

Charcoal recovered from lake-bed sediment cores show that just a few large fires within 200 years of initial colonization destroyed much of the South Island’s lowland forest. Grasslands and shrubland replaced the burnt forest and smaller fires prevented forests from returning.

The findings–by an international team led by Dave McWethy and Cathy Whitlock from Montana State University–have just been published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States and will be explored further under new grants from the National Science Foundation Geography and Spatial Science (GSS) and Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) programs (www.wildfirepire.org).

Previous studies by co-authors Matt McGlone and Janet Wilmshurst at Landcare Research in New Zealand showed that closed forests covered 85-90% of New Zealand prior to the arrival of Polynesians (Māori ) 700-800 years ago, but by the time Europeans settled in the mid 19th century, grass and shrubs had replaced over 40% of the South Island’s forests. Despite this information, questions over the timing, rapidity, and cause of the extensive forest clearance have remained.

The international team of scientists reconstructed the environmental history of 16 small lakes in the South Island, New Zealand. They used pollen records to reconstruct past vegetation, charcoal fragments to document fires, and algae and midge remains to quantify changes in lake chemistry and soil erosion.

The cores showed several high-severity fire events occurred within two centuries of known Māori arrival in the 13th Century.

“The impacts of burning were more pronounced in drier eastern forests where fires were severe enough to clear vast tracts of forest and cause significant erosion of soils and nutrients. Because the initial Māori populations were small, we can only conclude that forests were highly vulnerable to burning,” McWethy said.

Wilmshurst said archaeological evidence suggests that successful cultivation of introduced food crops, such as kumara and taro, was only possible in warmer northern coastal areas and the starch-rich rhizomes of bracken fern, which replaced the burnt forests, provided an essential part of Māori diets in colder regions.

“In their efforts to increase the productivity of lowland forests for food, Māori encouraged a more heterogeneous and economically useful fern-shrubland at the same time as making travel easier to search for food and stone resources for making tools,” Wilmshurst said.

Newly derived records of past climate enabled the team to disprove the hypothesis that unusual climate conditions encouraged fire at around the time of Māori settlement.

“Our evidence suggests that human activity was the main cause of the fires, and that these fires were not related to any unusually dry or warm conditions at the time,” McGlone said.

Before human arrival in New Zealand, fire was naturally rare in most forests, with lightning-started fires occurring perhaps only once every 1-2 thousand years.

“What is remarkable is that small mostly subsistence-based groups of people were able to burn large tracts of forests throughout the relatively large South Island (151,215 km2) in only a few decades,” McWethy said.

Whitlock said “Changes in the fossils and chemistry of the lake sediments showed that soil erosion followed initial forest clearance. In some regions, this degradation was exacerbated by intensive clearance in the 19th Century by European pastoralists who developed the land for grazing sheep and farming.”

This study shows the extent to which a small number of settlers can transform a vast and topographically complex landscape through land-use change alone, and highlights how exceptionally vulnerable New Zealand forests were to fire in the past. The authors suggest that understanding the history of people and fire in New Zealand will help researchers and managers develop informed forest fire management and conservation strategies.

[Source: Montana State University press release]