Tweeting Geoscience

twitter_logoTwitter has become a phenomenon in the Web 2.0 universe. As many know, Twitter is a social messaging and microblogging site for staying connected to people in near-real time. Users send “tweets”, text-formatted posts of 140 characters in length to “followers”. Followers subscribe to these Twitter feeds, getting regular updates on their computers and smart phones. Twitter had been dominated by tech savvy Gen-Xers, Millennials, celebrities and well-known politicians like President Obama. The social networking site has experienced an explosion of subscribers using the service for a variety of different purposes.

Those in the geoscience community have found Twitter a useful way to keep other informed.  Earth science – related professional and governmental organizations are using Twitter to keep the public informed of late breaking developments related to their missions. For example, NOAA’s OceanExplorer ( ) uses Twitter to broadcast updates to its site, announce new programs, highlight articles in which NOAA projects are discussed. In academia, professors can “tweet” when they are in their offices and accessible to colleagues and students.

Below is a list of Twitterers related to geoscience and what they are tweeting.

Type of Tweets: Program announcements, news, answers to USGS Frequently Asked Questions.

USGS News:
Type of Tweets: News from the USGS

USGS Earthquake:
Type of Tweets: recent earthquake activity

NASA Earth Observatory:
Type of Tweets: Imagery added to their site, site updates, new articles

Type of Tweets: News articles

Science Dailybot:
Type of Tweets: News fed from ScienceDaily, a premier online new source.

AEG Arizona:
Type of Tweets: News links, conference announcements

The GIS Forum:
Type of Tweets: GIS in the new, workshop announcements, data resources, applications

Type of Tweets: Geology job postings

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Focus on the Internet: Weather Underground’s Interactive Tornado Map

View recent tornado reports, current radar, photos and historically significant storms using Google Maps with Weather Underground’s Interactive Tornado Map. A great example of Web 2.0 technology in action.

Weather Underground’s Tornado FAQ is a very useful resource as well.

The Physical Environment textbook link: Tornadoes

Published in: on June 27, 2008 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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USGS Netvibes Universe

NetVibes is one of many personal web page sites, much like iGoogle. “Netvibes lets individuals assemble their favorite widgets, websites, blogs, email accounts, social networks, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, and everything else they enjoy on the web – all in one place. “ A Netvibes “universe” is a special shared page created by an organization like the USGS or Greenpeace, or maybe a newspaper. Widgets in the USGS universe keep you up-to-date with the latest USGS news, recent earthquakes, volcano activity reports, map search, YouTube videos, and much more. You can add their widgets to your personalized NetVibe site too. You can also create a public page to share your digital digs.

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 6:50 am  Comments (1)  

Google Docs

A few years ago, Google began creating a suite of office productivity apps that include a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. These are online applications that store your files on Google servers and are accessible through a web browser from any computer connected to the Internet. Though nowhere close to having all the bells and whistles of Microsnot’s Office suite, it provides plenty of functionality to create basic documents. You can save (download) documents to your local computer in a variety of formats, e.g. WORD, OpenOffice, pdf, html, rtf to edit in other programs if you desire. Files can also be setup for sharing and collaborative editing by colleagues. Starting this week (and extending over several weeks), Google is rolling out it’s Google Gears implementation of Google docs that will allow offline editing if you’re not connected to the Internet.

As one who works from a variety of different places, I’ve found it very handy. I don’t need the bloatware that WORD has become for most of my needs, especially for note taking (Google Notebook is also good for this) and initial drafts.

If you haven’t checked it out already, see

The suite has gained such popularity that Microsnot has developed a similar product, Office Live Workspace.

Oh, Google’s office suite is free too.

See Earth Online Media post “Google Docs Offline”

For more Google applications see:

Published in: on April 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Google Notebook

I do a majority of my work online and like to have access to all my documents and notes from wherever I’m working. Companies embracing the Web 2.0 revolution are producing applications that have fulfilled my needs for the most part. One of the most useful tools is Google Notebook. I can make as may notebook as I need for different projects and fill them with notes and clippings from web pages. A very nice feature is an extension app for my Firefox browser that lets me grab and save notes quickly from any web page.

To get started with Google Notebook you’ll need a free Google account. Once you have established your account go to start creating your online notebooks. Near the top of the Notebooks page you’ll find a link to install the helper app. Once installed you’ll see a link at the bottom of your browser that says “Open Notebook”. Watch this video to see how you can create new notes by clipping bits from a web page.

Published in: on December 23, 2007 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Juicy Geography’s Google Earth blog


Juicy Geography’s Google Earth blog is a wonderful service provided by Noel Jenkins, an Advanced Skills Teacher working in the South West of England. The blog is a place for Mr. Jenkins to share lesson ideas, supported with user guides and other materials. He is the originator of the Juicy Geography site, the first site to publish lessons incorporating Google Earth.

Recent posts include:

Real time weather in Google Earth

Fieldwork with Google Earth GPS and video – some thoughts

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 8:43 pm  Comments (1)  


The integrated nature of the Internet allows us to build Web-based applications that combine bits of information from a variety of online sources. A mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience (Wikipedia ). The content of a mashup is usually connected through a third party application programming interface (API). Mashups are the embodiment of the Web 2.0 service standard.

Weathermole: a Google Maps – NOAA mashup

A common use of mashups is to combine text, graphics, and geographic data for spatial analysis, much like a GIS. Mashup authors can overlay maps, draw lines and polygons, drop place markers and link a variety of data types to them. The development of mashups using spatial data has been propelled by the popularity of services like Google Maps. High quailty mashups for education, research, and yes, just plain fun abound.

The USGS Live Earthquake Mashup (not a USGS product) links Google Maps to a USGS RSS feed that contains date, location and magnitude for recent earthquakes. Clicking on a place marker reveals data for the event. The event date links to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for detailed descriptive information about the earthquake.

Quest integrates various KQED Public Broadcasting media platforms with Google Map and Flickr to present television programs, radio spots, blog postings, education guides, and map-based explorations (link San Andreas here).

Weather Bonk mashes together local your local weather forecast from the Weather Channel with Google maps, pictures from nearby Web cams and seasonal climate data. Place markers link to local weather stations through the Weather Underground.

With Hurricane Tracking and Google Maps you can map Atlantic hurricane tracks from 1851 – 2006. Follow the devastating path of Hurricane Katrina. Click on the place markers to see wind, pressure and location data. Pop up content bubbles can be toggled to see data or a current satellite image. You can add multiple tracks to compare hurricanes. Eastern and Western Pacific track are also available.

A number of blog sites provide information and links to geoscience-related mashups. Google Maps Mania is an excellent site to start with. The blog keeps you well-informed of new mashups and provides links to a number of mashup tools. See this introduction to the Google Maps API if you’re interested in building a Google maps mashup.

Published in: on February 11, 2007 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Web 2.0

In 1997 when Earth Online was published, the World Wide Web was an amazing network of computers bringing information in a variety of forms to the desktops of those with an Internet connection. Today, the Web has evolved into a mass media pipeline of information resources, commerce, and yes, crime. In 2004, O’Reilly Media in collaboration with Media Live International sponsored “Web 2.0” conferences. Web 2.0 refers to a second generation of Internet-based services that emphasize collaboration and sharing. Web 2.0 innovators describe it in a number of complementary ways. Some see Web 2.0 as an evolution of the web from site containers of information to hubs of online services, i.e., online office productivity suites, online photo editing services. The highest level Web 2.0 application only exists on the Internet and derives its value from the human connection facilitated by a digital online social community like Wikipedia and MySpace. Fundamentally, this is how Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the purpose behind the WWW . He was interested in creating an environment for sharing real time information with physics colleagues to collaborate on.

You are probably familiar with several examples of Web 2.0 applications. The blog you’re reading right now is an example of a Web 2.0 service. It permits information dissemination, collaboration and commentary within an open or closed online community. The search engine company Google is transforming itself into a Web 2.0 juggernaut. Google Docs, an online word processor was used to write this blog entry. It has the advantage of storing the document on a server that is accessible from any Internet-connected computer. It is platform-independent and thus able to be used within a web browser on a number of different operating systems and computers. Documents can be shared and published on the Web for all to view. Wikipedia is another example of Web 2.0 applications. Grown to over a million entries, this collaborative reference is becoming widely used by the public. Concerns have been raised about the validity of some contributions. can keep you up-to-date with new web-based products and services.

Web 2.0 and Geosciences

Geoscience blogs

The material you’re reading right now is being delivered by one of the most ubiquitous applications of Web 2.0 technology, a weblog or blog. A weblog is a diary or journal of sorts, a record of commentary posted by the owner and readers. Many blogs simply report or synthesize information found on other sites, such as this blog does . These blogs serve as aggregators of information rather than delivering new content. I primarily use the Earth Online blog to update what was a printed text (now available in digital format ). An amazing site is Go to Ron Schott’s Geology Home Companion blog containing wonderful photos, QTVRs, and links to earth science related web resources. Academic departments use like Radford University’s Geography Department uses a blog to discuss currents, department functions, professional activities among faculty, students and staff.

Geoscience Wikis

Wikis are used in a variety of ways by geoscientists. In response to the ever increasing cost of textbooks, professionals are turning to wikis as a means of publishing textbooks. WikiBooks provides the structure upon which collaborating authors can write and distribute books. A fledgling book about Volcanoes has been started on the site. A major criticism of wikis is the lack of peer review. Misinformation can creep into these works either by accident or on purpose. Unbalanced discourse can creep into posting. Some wiki book projects screen and limit potential contributors to ensure quality and validity. Educators find wikis a good way to promote collaborative learning. Group research projects can be facilitated with a wiki and student contributions monitored.

Web Services

Google Earth is one of the best known Web 2.0 applications available today. It is a freely downloadable virtual globe program. Satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS data are superimposed on a 3D globe to map the Earth’s surface. Users can create fly-bys and post them to the Web for sharing. The Google Earth Blog keeps you up-to-date with news, features, tips, technology, and applications related to Google Earth.

The following has several Web 2.0 examples:

References used for this posting:

Published in: on November 21, 2006 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment