GISSIG Talk Nov 2: Counter-Mapping Guantánamo Bay: Quantifying Prison Expansion using Free Satellite Imagery

Adrian Myers, Stanford Archaeology Center and Department of Anthropology: “Counter-Mapping Guantánamo Bay: Quantifying Prison Expansion using Free Satellite Imagery”

Since January 2002 the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp has held suspected terrorists captured in the Global War on Terror. The physical, mental and legal abuses of the prisoners held there have led to controversy and outrage. Despite intense public and media interest, GITMO remains a secretive place. The prisoners that remain at the camp are held in extralegal limbo, barred behind both tangible and intangible walls. Security clearance levels necessary to gain access to the prisoners mirror the tangible barbed-wire fences that ring the camp. Since government documents are mostly classified and physical sites are off limits, this project aims to contribute in a small way to the documentation of GITMO through analysis of publically available satellite imagery. The project assesses the state of the camp and compares current with historic imagery to quantify changes at the camp over time.

Adrian Myers is a historical archaeologist primarily studying the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a particular focus on military conflict, internment, and surveillance. His interests include the First and Second World Wars, the Global War on Terror, Prisoners of War, criminal incarceration, archaeological ethics, and satellite remote sensing. His central PhD research project is on the Whitewater PoW Camp, a Second World War internment camp that held German soldiers in Manitoba, Canada. More at

WHEN: Tuesday Nov 2, 2010 at 12noon
WHERE: Anthropology Department, Building 50, Room 51A (Main Quad)

GISSIG Talk May 6: Visualizing the Growth of America’s Newspapers

“Black and White and Read All Over: Visualizing the Growth of America’s Newspapers”
Knight Journalism Fellows Krissy Clark and Geoff McGhee worked with Stanford’s Lane Center for the American West to create an interactive map of every newspaper published in America from 1609 to today. They will talk about the lessons they learned– about GIS, the challenges of data gathering and cleaning, designing interactive visualizations–and perhaps most of all, the foundational role played by a raucous and quintessentially American industry: the press.
Krissy Clark is contributing producer for American RadioWorks, American Public Media, San Francisco. During her fellowship at Stanford Krissy focuses on geographically aware journalism, especially by creating and sharing tools that journalists can use to harness geospatial mapping technology to provide a greater sense of place. Geoff McGhee is multimedia editor for Le Monde Interactif in Paris, France.  During his fellowship at Stanford Geoff researches and develops data visualization tools for online journalists.
WHEN: Thursday May 6, 2010 at 2pm
WHERE: Anthropology Department, Building 50, Room 51A (Main Quad)

GISSIG Lunch Meeting Mar 18: Geodatabases for historical research

Elijah Meeks, Digital Humanities Specialist, Stanford Academic Computing: “Geodatabases for historical research”

Databases used to track historical political geography require a more nuanced representation of place than that found in traditional geodatabases. Not only do they need to record ambiguous geo-locations and change over time, but also the possibly complete reformulation of a historical place such that it might have a different name, jurisdiction, area or even location (or even a lack of existence in the case of temporary abolition) while maintaining some kind of continuous conceptual identity.  The creation of a new digital gazetteer for use by the Mapping the Republic of Letters project builds on lessons learned in the creation of the Digital Gazetteer of the Song Dynasty (the release notes of which are attached).  This new gazetteer allows for the representation of change over time as well as tracking not only the physical location of an entity but also its existence within any of a set of containers, allowing for the implementation of what is known as a tripartite model of space, which creates a suitable dataset not only for traditional historical GIS but also for other spatial but not necessarily physical questions to be addressed.

WHEN: Thursday, March 18 at noon  (Bring your lunch. We will provide coffee, tea, and chocolate.)
WHERE: Humanities Center, Board Room

GISSIG Lunch Meeting Feb 19: Measuring spatial segregation

Prof. Sean F. Reardon,  Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology

“Measuring spatial segregation: residential patterns in the U.S.”

The talk will briefly describe a set of methods of measuring spatial segregation, including an ArcGIS tool, developed by Prof. Reardon and his colleagues, to implement these methods. The methods will be illustrated using data on residential racial and income segregation patterns in the U.S.

Sean Reardon is Faculty at the School of Education at Stanford. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of social and educational inequality. In particular, he studies the causes and consequences of residential and school segregation and the sources of racial/ethnic achievement gaps. In addition, he is interested in methods of measurement and causal inference in educational and social science research.

When: Friday 2/19/2010 12 noon
Where: Anthropology Department, Building 50, Room 51A

GISSIG Talk Jan 8: Mumbai Freemap

Shekhar Krishnan, MIT: Mumbai Freemap: Mapping the Urban Environment in Colonial Bombay

When: Friday, January 8 at 3:00 p.m
Where: Baker Room at the Stanford Humanities Center

In social theory and ethnography, the “return of space” has foregrounded the environmental dimensions of urban power through a new critical geography. In the past ten years, a distinct “urban turn” the study of South Asian history has sought to rethink the role of cities such as Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta as more than just a physical container for colonial power, or discursive stage for nationalist politics. Between the narrative framework of nationalist history and the spatial history of cities in South Asia operate at different scales and periods.

My presentation will address this hiatus between narrative and spatial history in the context of my research on the urban environment in colonial Bombay and contemporary Mumbai in the twentieth century. I will discuss the challenges of tracing and archiving the historical geography of Bombay/Mumbai from 1914-2001, using layers of map imagery and geodata collected in my research on historical maps and contemporary plans, open source GIS and web mapping services.

SHEKHAR KRISHNAN is a doctoral candidate in the Program in Science Technology and Society (STS) at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where he is researching the history of technology and the urban environment in Bombay and Western India from 1860-1950. For the past ten years he has been involved in urban research and community organizing in Mumbai as a founding coordinator then associate director of PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action & Research) and currently as a founder member of CRIT (Collective Research Initiatives Trust). He is currently managing partner of Entropy Free LLC, a software consultancy which builds tools for digital humanities and the geospatial web. See his research blog at and the MIT Urban South Asia workshop at

GISSIG Lunch Meeting May 11 – Michael Migurski

michal migurskiMichal Migurski, partner, technical architect and researcher for the award-winning Stamen Design in San Francisco will come to talk to us about online cartography and the design process behind Stamen’s recent mapping projects.
Reserve your space! (write to Lunch will be served.

GISSIG Lunch meeting April 20: Open Street Map

The next GISSIG lunch meeting will be Monday, April 10 at the Humanities Center. Topic is Open Street Maps.

Lunch Meeting: Earth, Wind, and GRASS

Thursday Dec 4, 2008 12-1pm
Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP (cengel at stanford)

Mike Dvorak
Researcher, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Atmosphere/Energy Program

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Lunch Meeting: Quantifying Looting – Hybrid Research Using Google Earth and ArcGIS

Thursday Nov 6, 2008 12-1pm
Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP (cengel at stanford)

Dan Contreras, Lecturer at the Dept. of Anthropology:
“Quantifying Looting – Hybrid Research Using Google Earth and ArcGIS”

International response to the problem of looting of archaeological sites has been hampered by the difficulty of reliably quantifying the damage done. The scarcity of reliable information about the scale of archaeological site looting hampers professional and public policy making, making consensus about the scale of damage from looting and the effectiveness of policy responses difficult to achieve. Dan Contreras and Neil Brodie have been exploring the use of publicly-available remotely-sensed imagery for quantifying damage done by looting of archaeological sites in Jordan, resulting in a GIS database of looted sites. The ease of use and affordability of such imagery as that provided by Google Earth make the identification, quantification, and monitoring of archaeological site looting possible at a level previously unimagined; however, Google Earth is most effective as a research tool if combined with true GIS software. This talk will focus on the process of using Google Earth and ArcGIS in tandem, highlighting our eventual successes as well as salient difficulties.

Daniel Contreras is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and the Archaeology Center at Stanford. He received his PhD in 2007, with a dissertation entitled Sociopolitical and Geomorphologic Dynamics at Chavín de Huántar, Peru. He continues to carry out research on landscape change and human-environment interactions at Chavín, is also involved in research into the consumption and procurement of obsidian at that site and its primary obsidian source some 600 km away, and maintains a strong interest in the use of digital tools in archaeological research. In addition, he is investigating the use of publicly-available satellite imagery to monitor and quantify looting damage at archaeological sites.