Thanks to Geography Professor Duane Griffin’s spooky ‘Santa vs. Satan’ map submission (deemed one of the ‘all-time greats’ – see below), Bucknell has scored a knock-out in round one of the Floatingsheep blog’s Christmas map contest.
The Floatingsheep blog – a favorite amongst mapping, visualization and social media enthusiasts – was founded two years ago by Dr. Matthew Zook (an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky, USA) and Dr. Mark Graham (a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, UK). The site is dedicated to:
“mapping and analyzing user generated Google Map placemarks… [to] provide a glimpse of what internet users (in the aggregate) think about particular places. Where are people posting placemarks about swine flu? Which places are considered to be “fun” by the collective intelligence of the Internet users?”
FloatingSheep uses a proprietary software program that conducts a worldwide search for Google Maps placemarks containing specific keywords . The software records the number of results generated for each keyword and creates a grid map where each cell indicates the number of hits returned for the Google Maps keyword search in that particular location.
After looking at Santa and reindeer in 2009 and the geography of local names for Santa in 2010, the Floatingsheep team has added a new twist to the Christmastime ‘naughty or nice’ debate by choosing a ‘Santa vs. Satan vs. Zombies’ theme for its 2011 Christmas map contest. Floatingsheep did a search for 24 keywords related to Santa/Satan/Zombies to see, as Dr. Graham says “whether the places we live in are augmented by more Christmas-related information or more devilish/ghoulish-related information.”
Prof. Griffin downloaded the grid map data from Floatingsheep’s keyword search and then aggregated and visualized it to produce his masterpiece. See below for Floatingsheep’s write-up on Duane’s map.
Our third entry comes from Duane Griffin  with a map that we’re quite frankly really creeped out by. I made sure my laptop was closed last night so it couldn’t escape.
Duane outlines his method as, “I aggregated all of the Satan/Lucifer/zombies/etc. as Team Satan, aggregated all the religious and holiday categories and everything else as Team Santa (including fatman and robot santa), and mapped them Fox-style to hype up the threat. The “Mostly” category is based on the team ratio.” The result is a road map of “badness”. While Las Vegas comes as no surprise, who knew that Wyoming was so Satan-ridden? And I’m going to think twice before heading out to the middle of Kansas. Duane simply notes that it “Looks as if the Forces of Evil are winning the West and making inroads into the eastern US.” Others (e.g., my mother) notes with some surprise that Washington D.C. shows up as mostly good which defies all expectations.
Happy holidays! And stay tuned for more posts.
 Other identifying information such as his role as a professor at Bucknell University has been withheld so he is not tainted by his admission of being a Floating Sheep reader.