I propose Etymologic cartography as a field of study: Somebody had the simple but appealing idea to simply translate the toponyms on a map to English. In this case the subject in question is the USA:
Some of the names are rather interesting (and were unknown to me), e.g. Asleep for Iowa, Flattened Water for Nebraska, Great Hills for Massachusetts, Lord of War for Delaware, Dugout Canoe for Missouri (see here for an ordinary USA map for comparison). Note also, that both peripheral Alaska and peripheral Maine consider(ed) themselves the Mainland and that Idaho was apparently named such as a practical joke (really!? – possibly!)!
Also, the map nicely answers a question a friend of mine recently wondered about (and which I couldn’t answer): Kansas apparently means Wind, while Arkansas means People of the Wind!
The principle of etymologic cartography is of course easily transferred to other geographic areas. Though, coming to think of it, given its history the USA has probably a substantial (more than average?) density of toponyms that don’t stem from the local language but rather from Spanish or Aboriginal American languages (think, for example, Utah). I wonder what other countries or regions would especially lend themselves to such an experiment?
If you’re into creativity, you may have heard about Everything is a Remix. Its premise is that many things we consider original ideas are rather derivatives or combinations of existing ideas. It all comes down to
COPY — TRANSFORM — COMBINE
Everything is a Remix is a four-part video series which digs into the creative process. I’ve just watched part 3, highly recommended:
You can watch the whole series here.
I guess one could lament the idea that there are no original ideas (hmm, recursion? ;), on the other hand (and I think that should be the dominant view point) this notion takes off some burden you may have been carrying around with you. You do not have to be 100% original in order to be creative, simply because it is not even possible: Copy, transform, combine!
(via SwissMiss, Brain Pickings)
After the last post I have to report about a movie again already: Part of the Off Book series by PBS Arts, the short documentary gives a glimpse into computer generative art. Computer generative art in the words of Luke Dubois (starring in the documentary) is
[art] where you surrender control over some aspect what’s going down to some [computer] process.
Generative Art: Computers, Data, and Humanity portrays three artists and their work.
In Turning Data Into Music and Stories Luke Dubois tells how he turned casualties, missing and refugees of 8 years of war in Iraq into an 8 minute musical piece. Dubois says the reason for him to do that was, that the Iraq war is the first conflict of the U.S. where we have more data than information. I am not sure whether this is true from the information side (i.e. whether people were better informed about other wars), but modern gizmos and equipment certainly do produce heaps of data and thus maybe, in fact, make us know or feel less about what is going on.
I also found myself agreeing to Dubois saying:
This century is the century of data. That’s gonna be the defining thing.
I would add to that: and how we approach that heap of data. We amass such amounts of data that turning it into valuable, actionable information is getting harder and harder. In some fields, where data was hard or expensive to get, the situation has changed and we now seek for ways how to filter and intelligently assess incoming data streams. This is certainly true for many fields in Geography.