Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Critique: Ken on Geographical Representation


That's the answer to "life, the universe and everything", according to Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy (What? Why 42?)

Is this true? Well, according to Ken, not so. He provides the photo montage below as proof. It shows a colourful woman who resides on the first floor of the Times Square Mall and satellite and microscope images.

Neue Weltanschauung means new worldview (Apparently Weltanschauung, a German word, used to be a popular term in geography).

The names and dates refer to historical events involving biological warfare against Native Americans and instances of criminality in modern medical research. Someone's trying to erase that history.

The satellite images depict the places mentioned, while the microbes represent the events, and these are all shown in colour.

Writes Ken,

"She was blue until she found that the new view matched her do.

Correlate scales by colour to find the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything else. It is no longer 42, but rather lies between the colours red"

Related links  

Germ warfare against American Indians
Did HIV Type 1 originate in Colonial French Equatorial Africa?
Syphilis testing on Guatemalans

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Upcoming events


1. Programme Exam Board Meeting

Saturday, 3/12/11 at 9:00am and Wednesday, 7/12/11 at 9:00am

2. Programme Meeting on research

Wednesday, 7/12/11 after the exam board meeting

Programme Lunch

Saturday, 3/12/11 at 12:00pm at Tarindak d'Seni


1. MA Students' Seminar

Saturday, 26/11/11 at 2:00pm in FASS G29

2. AD-3307 Student Seminar

Wednesday, 30/11/11 at 2:00pm at CLT 1.17

(All welcome to attend. Refreshment available!)

Interesting reads: From Keryn's twitter feeds

Quite a number of interesting reads on my twitter feed today (I follow mostly academics):
  • Dan Lockton talks about the effect of architecture on behaviour here. It's an interesting article, one that underscores the intricate linkages between space, proxemics, culture and behaviour. It's especially useful for those of us in the vertical housing research group. In fact, Lockton's phD Designing with Intent sounds very much like what we want to do with the local architects and housing planners (nudge, nudge Gab).
  • For the human/social/cultural geographers among us who are averse to numbers, this article might make you change your stance. Heather Ford is an ethnographer at Ushahidi (I'm jealous!) whose work on Wikipedia forces her to at least consider the possibility of working with numbers. Then she found an article by Ken Anderson and the crew from Intel’s People and Practices Research group called ‘Numbers Have Qualities Too: Experiences with Ethno-Mining’ (she links to it in the post) which led to the realization that "there is no problem with numbers and statistics per se. The problem is when we use numbers divorced from the context in which they are extracted. The problem comes when we use numbers to speak for a community, rather than enabling the community to speak to the numbers." Awesome read.
  • In fact, the above article came from the Ethnography Matters website by a group of female academics/intellectuals, and ALL of the posts there are worth reading, in my opinion.
  • Heather also wrote this article titled New Geographies. It's a really interesting read.
  • If you are trying to remember something, don't pass through a doorway! The Freakonomics team highlights a study by a Notre Dame psychology professor here (which links to the actual research paper) that reveals doorways can cause forgetfulness "because of the way the brain compartmentalizes information" (quote from Freakonomics). Another interesting read and perhaps also the answer to my own memory lapses.

Interesting: Awesome student project

A group of University of Hong Kong students created a website to showcase their project on Wet Markets in Hong Kong (link here). It is a great social mapping project, something that we could introduce as a whole module or as a module project

Thanks to Ken for the suggestion and link.

Dk Hasharina and Izni have started to move in this direction. Their AD-3302 (Place, Culture and Identity) students produced short video clips for one of their continuous assessment projects. The videos will be uploaded and featured here soon.

Interesting read: When maps shouldn't be maps

Matthew Ericson, the deputy director of graphics at The New York Times on his blog gives some reasons why maps are powerful visual tools, and when they aren't.

I agree with his point that when maps become too crowded and oversaturated with information, then they lose some significance.

Have a read here, and tell us what you think!

Project: GIS course for MinDef personnel

Ten army personnel from the Ministry of Defence recently started a three-week introductory course on Geographical Information System and geosciences. The course is a consultancy project under Dr Kazimierz Becek and provides basic training in GIS and geosciences theory and technology.

The course started on Monday, 21 November 2011 with an opening ceremony officiated by the Director of the army's Science and Technology Research and Development Center, Colonel Muzri, FASS Dean Dr Gary Jones and GD/ES programme leader Dr Bill Duane. Both the director and the dean urged participants to take maximum advantage of the expertise and materials made available to develop their geospatial capabilities and knowledge.

The course is conducted at the Geography Lab (G28) in nine separate sessions, every Monday, Thursday and Friday, until mid-December. It is facilitated by Dr Becek and Khairunnisa.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Research: Mapping ghosts

Can paranormal experiences be mapped? If they could, what patterns would be revealed? Are the most haunted places simply ghost magnets, or are they instead populated by the living whose upbringing involved practices and oral histories that carry a hint (or totally reek) of the mystical and otherworldly?

Ghost story aficionados Khairunnisa and Izni will attempt to answer these and other questions with their project, tentatively titled “Ghostly encounters: Mapping paranormal experiences in Brunei Darussalam” by geotagging ‘true’ paranormal stories about Brunei that are published on a popular website (details held for now) and then using GIS to reveal and analyse the resulting distribution of ghost experiences, in addition to analysing the stories themselves and hopefully interviewing their authors.

This methodology is similar to (and partly inspired by) the one employed in the production of the Zombie map of the world by a team of Internet and visualization researchers.

Khairunnisa and Izni hope to feature this unfunded project in the upcoming 11th Borneo Research Council conference to be held here at UBD.

If anyone has comments or tips, feel free to get in touch!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DiscoverUBD: Current pace of urbanisation unsustainable (Students' project findings)

Urban Expansion in Brunei is Unsustainable

DiscoverUBD posts highlight articles that have been featured in the UBD newsletter. The following was taken from the third issue (July-September 2011).

Urban expansion has certainly had an impact on two of our districts, Brunei-Muara and Tutong. A project studying the urban expansion for Brunei-Muara and Tutong district uncovered a decrease of approximately 22.6% of forested areas from 1984 to 2009. The study was carried out by students of the Research Methods and Fieldwork module in the Geography department in FASS.

To identify the extent of the forest lost due to urban expansion, the 1984 Forest Map of Brunei Darussalam was compared with the high resolution satellite imagery of 2009. This allowed for the identification of previously forested areas which had since been converted into urban and industrial sites.

The outcome of the results showed that, due to urban expansion in Brunei-Muara and Tutong between 1984 and 2009, about 10,546 ha and 7,283 ha of forest had been lost, respectively. In relative terms this means that in the Brunei-Muara districts the urban areas have expanded from 19.4% in 1984 to a staggering 62% in 2009. Corresponding figures for Tutong are 6%
and 34%, respectively.

The rapid urban expansion was caused by several projects such as the Pulau Muara Besar project, housing schemes, the construction of the Telisai-Lumut highway and the fall-out from the expansion of the Bandar Seri Begawan boundary.

According to the Town and Country Planning Department, only 5% of the remaining space is available for development. This figure accounts only for land area which requires less cost to be developed. Housing is currently the largest development project in the sultanate and has already consumed a huge amount of land compared to other development projects, including industrial and commercial development. Fortunately, the Housing Development Department has come up with the alternative of a vertical housing scheme to minimize land consumption in the country, to meet the increasing demand for housing.

The Town and Country Planning Officer stated that “there is not much land left anymore for further development except forest reserves.” He also added that protected areas were traditionally exempt from development. However, due to increased demand for development, some forested areas might be sacrificed.

He further explained other alternatives such as taking the hinterland area for development if necessary. This matter is subject to permission from the Forestry Department, which is responsible for assessing the environmental issues regarding development in Brunei.

Fortunately, the Sultanate’s initiative to protect the natural environment through the Heart of Borneo (HOB) and other conservation initiatives has helped the country to prevent the loss of much of its pristine forest.

The study of the impact of urban development on the natural environment is important in order to reduce the negative effects of rapid urbanization, as well as to increase awareness of the need for sustainable development.

The study was carried out by Muhammad Hairi bin Abdul Halim, Azimah binti Ahman, Siti Nazurah binti Maidin, Nor Amalina binti Ahmad and Willyza Bibiana binti Ibrahim, under the supervision of Dr. Kazimierz Becek.

DiscoverUBD: Students' project finds public largely supportive of vertical housing

DiscoverUBD posts highlight articles that have been featured in the UBD newsletter. The following was taken from the third issue (July-September 2011).

Only 16% disapproval rate
of high-rise housing in Brunei Darussalam

MOST Bruneians are open to the idea of living in vertical housing schemes, provided that the houses are provided with enough bedrooms to accommodate all family members and are located between the 1st and 5th floors.

These are among the findings of a study by a group of third-year Geography students from Universiti Brunei Darussalam which examined public perception of high-rise housing that have been proposed for future housing applicants.

According to the study, only 16% of the respondents were against the plan with the majority of respondents in favour of it. However, most respondents were concerned about the space available within each housing, with only 23% satisfied with the current plan of having three bedrooms per housing unit. The rest would prefer to have four or more bedrooms, with one respondent remarking, “The authorities must consider that different families have different numbers of members. It will be difficult for a big family to stay in a small apartment, so
they need to design the unit in a way that will be comfortable for the family to live in.”

Another concern was the preference for lower vertical housing areas as opposed to higher ones, with most respondents preferring to stay between the first and fifth floors. This poses a problem for current proposals to construct 14-story housing blocks.

Respondents also insist that the housing areas should be equipped with community facilities such as shopping centres, clinics, sports centres, recreational parks, mosques, child day cares, multi-purpose halls and libraries, among others. Most of these have already been considered in the proposed design planned for the Vertical Housing project.

Many respondents were also concerned about efficiency of the promised services and facilities, such as lift maintenance. Given these concerns, planners should reconsider public opinion and make amendments to meet the needs of both the public and the government.

The study was conducted as part of the Geography Research Methods course in the early months of 2011 by the following students: Nurul Hidayah Binti Pg Hj Momin, Siti Nor Fakhrina Binti Pg Samsu, Khairunnisa Binti Haji Mansor, Siti Norhatiqaah Binti Hj Abd Hamid and Zuriah Binti Zabidi, under supervision of Dr. Kazimierz Becek.