Bucknell GIS brings home an IronSheep

Over the holidays we posted about Prof. Duane Griffin’s victory in the FloatingSheep blog’s Christmas map contest. Well, Duane has once again brought glory (or infamy, depending on which way you look at it) to Bucknell GIS by winning the coveted ‘Sheep of Fools’ award at the first ever IronSheep contest.

The contest, part of the slate of activities for the 2012 annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, was hosted by Pivotal Labs near Union Square in NYC, and featured 7 teams of ‘lightning mappers’ comprised of geographers, GIS analysts, data hounds, web developers and other assorted mapping/data visualization enthusiasts. As described in the FloatingSheep blog’s announcement of the event, the premise of the IronSheep competition was to…

mimic the format of the “Iron Chef” television series. This workshop challenges participants (grouped into teams with members from diverse backgrounds and skill sets) to produce meaningful analysis and fun, evocative mash-ups from the same sets of user-generated, geo-coded data within a four hour time frame. The goal is to provide a semi-structured environment where participants can socialize and work in a fun yet socially meaningful project. Participants will be drawn from academic, industry and artistic communities from around the world… Teams will be assigned a targeted question…and use crowdsourced data to create a new geo-visualization.

And that we did… for four hours the teams crunched, analyzed, mapped, visualized and animated datasets ranging from UFO sightings and WalMart store locations to Flickr geotags for “Redneck” and ‘Hippy.” Click here to read the FloatingSheep blog’s recap of the event and to see pictures from the event. See below for pictures of the teams hard at work.

Some interesting discussions about neo-geography (e.g. open geography/VGI/geoweb/web mapping services) vs. traditional GIS arose during the IronSheep debriefing session held on the final day of the AAG conference. Click here to read Jeremy Crampton’s overview of the debate or here to check out the Twitter stream about the topic.

Team Rambouillet (my team – we didn’t win any IronSheep awards but we had a lot of fun)


Team Haggis (Prof. Duane Griffin’s team – winners of the “Sheep of Fools” award)


This is one of Team Haggis’s entries. As described by Duane Griffin, “It’s the number of ‘Redneck’ and ‘Hippy’ Flikr geotags within 7.5 miles of a UFO sighting, to see who the aliens are most likely trying to target.”


Team Haggis showing off their IronSheep


The coveted “Sheep of Fools” award