New GeoCurrents Look and Features

GeoCurrents was initiated a little more than two years ago as a general forum for geography in the news, illustrating current events with maps and providing geohistorical background. It was also used to showcase interesting maps and items of geographical significance. Since then the blog has undergone several transformations, both conceptual and cosmetic. Individual posts have grown longer and appear more frequently, and a core intellectual concern has evolved around the slippage between political and cultural boundaries. Attention now remains focused for extended periods on particular parts of the world. The just-completed Caucasus series, for example, continued for a month.

The most important changes, however, have come with additional members of the team. Kevin Morton joined as site manager in mid 2011, and linguist Asya Pereltsvaig signed on at the start of 2012. Where GeoCurrents initially examined peoples and places, it now sets its sights on peoples, places, and languages. Today marks the debut of another participant, Chris Kremer. Chris is a Stanford University freshman interested in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and all things cartographic, and is an associate editor of the student-run Stanford Journal of International Relations. Other members may join the team in the near future.

Today, the expanded GeoCurrents team introduces an expanded website. New features will allow us to continue to delve into the particularities of peoples, places, and languages without losing sight of other issues of geographical note. On the right-hand side of the homepage, the new column “GeoNotes: Miscellaneous Maps and Items of Interest” provides a forum for discussing intriguing maps and other items of interest. Some posts here will highlight superb maps, others will criticize abysmal ones, and many will simply comment on something unusual or quirky. Today’s GeoNotes post takes on a sometimes insightful, occasionally amusing, and often offensive genre, that of the “world according to …” map. In this initial post, Chris Kremer looks at maps depicting “The World According to Americans.”

The other addition is the News Map, located below the GeoNotes on the homepage and illustrated here as well. This cartographic portal into current events is designed to highlight issues generally bypassed by the conventional media. Hover over the icons on this map, and a brief summary will appear, along with a link to a source article (or articles) as well as a map or other illustration. Posts here are keyed to themes: icons indicate stories pertaining to war and strife, diplomacy, the environment, and more. New posts on the News Map appear with bright icons, which will gradually fade out and ultimately vanish, preventing the map from becoming too cluttered. The map is scalable, and some stories will be pegged to precise places. The design is experimental, and we will likely change some of the parameters as we go along—please bear with us.

GeoCurrents now rests on three legs: the main Peoples, Places, and Languages blog, the News Map, and GeoNotes. It remains incomplete, however, inasmuch as it still lacks a forum for discussing the geohistorical background of all the major news stories of the day. At present our news stories are brief, our notes quirky, and our posts selective. In time, a fourth component will be added: a podcast series on the history and geography of current global events. That feature, however, will have to wait until Autumn 2012.

Meanwhile, the team’s goal is to have blog posts and news map updates each weekday, with GeoNotes additions appearing more episodically. The next few posts will turn inward to provide more information on GeoCurrents. Next week will introduce a new series that hits close to home: Northern California.

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