Geography forever

When I was walking to school in the second grade, I found myself behind a group of older kids, arguing about what subjects they hated most. The consensus was geography. At the time I didn’t know what geography was, but I became determined to find out. When I did, two things happened. First, I realized that I loved geography (and along with it, geology). Second, I learned that popularity of anything often meant nothing. And I’ve been passionate about geography ever since.

But not just for myself. Instead I’m interested in feeding scholarship wihin subjects that interest me. For both geography and geology I do that mostly through photography. Toward that end, here are a few recent sets I’ve posted, or updated:

Meanwhile, close to 200 of my shots are now in Wikimedia Commons. Big thanks to the Wikipedians who have put them there. I can’t begin to count how many Wikipedia articles many of these illustrate. currently accompanies eighteen different articles in fourteen different languages.

While we’re on the subject of , I’ll commend to you the new book Good Faith Collaboration by , a fellow at this year. His first chapter is online.

You may notice that most of my links to subjects, both in my online writings and in my photo captions, go to Wikipedia entries. Sometimes people ask me why. One reason is that Wikipedia is the closest we have come, so far, to a source that is both canonical and durable, even if each entry changes constantly, and some are subject to extreme disagreement. Wikipedia is, like the , a set of . Another reason is that Wikipedia is guided by the ideal of a neutral point of view (NPOV). This, Joseph says, “ensures that we can join the scattered pieces of what we think we know and good faith facilitates the actual practice of fitting them together.”

The nature of the Net is to encourage scatterings such as mine, as well as good faith about what might be done with them.

9 responses to “Geography forever”

  1. You are my hero, Doc Searls. Great photos. Great way to let them serve others. Just think, a generation or two ago, they would be filling up shoe-boxes. (Or they wouldn’t exist, because of all that dam processing.)

  2. Ha! I knew that opening photo was the tip of Manhattan Island. Those two bridges could only be Brooklyn and Manhattan. I’ve walked and bicycled (once each) over both of them.

  3. I’m nowhere near as prolific as you, but I like this one:

    It helps (me) that I’ve bicycled the rail-trail that goes through the shot.

  4. Nice pics — and thanks for the note on the book. My youngest brother received degrees in geography and I would often talk to him about the odd things I’d see when flying and he bought me this nifty book that explained the varied geological features one would see when flying. (“Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air”.) I’ve yet to have a window seat with my latest GPS, but am looking forward to that too.

  5. Doc, regarding Reagle’s book, I refer you (well, more like the audience …) to the criticisms of it that can be found at the critical site “Wikipedia Review:”

    My comment at the time of the release, in the discussion thread on Reagle’s blog:

    “Joe, after going through chapter 1, sadly my initial impression was also negative. Obviously you put a lot of work into this, and while I can respect the effort to do scholarship, the perspective seems problematic.

    Basically, it struck me as extremely credulous, and regurgitating the most self-promotional presentations as profound truth.

    Here’s a simple question – Is there anywhere in the book where you write something along the lines of “The Wikipedia community tells itself a nice story here, but it’s a fiction which covers up the following cultural dysfunction.”?

    Can you provide a quick counter-example to argue against the view that this is functionally a verbose marketing brochure for Wikipedia?”

    And I would say people should avoid linking to Wikipedia, for many reasons. It’s a silo, remember? A centralizer which sucks attention and linkage away from the “edgelings” :-(.

  6. Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia) comment:

    “I received a review copy, from the publisher looking for a promo quote
    from me. I glanced at a few woefully misleading things it contained
    about the early history of Wikipedia, and my views, and never picked it
    up again. This is probably all I’ll ever say about it…”

    Y’know, Doc, one of the things which bothers me greatly about the Berkman Center is that far too many people there simply do not care about, let me put it obliquely, objective reality. It’s very much “social” types (including lawyers under that rubric), which means the focus is what other (powerful) people think, and the implications thereof. Someone could write “The Moon is made of green cheese”, and as long as there was some reason to go along with that, there’d be an effort to justify it – or, bluntly, to sell it (I can just imagine the rhetoric – “By “the Moon”, that doesn’t mean the mundane celestial body, but the platonic image which is in our hearts and minds. And “our” means the loving human mind, rather than the uncaring physical object. Because we cannot ever experience reality without mediating it through our mentality. And thus, green cheese is OUR Moon.”)

  7. Possibly may favorite Science blog on the net today. Love it Doc Searls!

    (I’m more of a technology man usually…)


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  8. Wow, that opening photo is amazing. Really cool that you’re that high up and can still make out the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

    To be honest, I have to agree with the older school kids in front of you, I wasn’t a big fan of Geography either.

  9. Great photos doc – thanks for sharing. The first photo is my favorite. It’s amazing how much of a difference a good teacher makes. I hated Geography when I was younger until I was forced to change schools – my new Geography teacher was wonderful and I grew to love it.
    Dan with left handed golf equipment

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