Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting the Point

One way to create a new company name is blend two words together in a portmanteau that conveys their blended meaning. I have noticed, though, that many successful Internet launches in recent years have been named by joining two words that are related neither to each other nor to the business at hand.

I first made this observation with respect to the JetPunk quiz site, which is now a favorite that I share with students of all ages through my GeoGames page.

Geography is about a lot more than learning the names of capitals and longest rivers, of course. It is a dynamic discipline at the intersection of social and natural sciences, and it has a lot to teach us about climate, migration, land use, food, and even coffee.

Knowing basic place-name geography is, however, still valuable as a starting point for grasping the richer lessons of geography, and I find that quizzes can be very helpful, even for an experienced geographer. I also find it helpful to work with a variety of quiz formats, which is why I include so many options among the GeoGames.

I am particularly interested in the LizardPoint quiz known as The Caribbean Quiz because it focuses on the Lesser Antilles, a region I do not know well. As a Latin Americanist (and former coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program), I know something of this region at the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea -- but not as much as I should. With this quiz, I hope to master the locations not only of the sovereign states in this island arc, but also of the various dependencies. In the map excerpt below, the former are shown in ALL CAPS with a star indicating a national capital, while the latter are followed by parenthetical abbreviations of their empire centers (U.S., U.K., or France).

See full Caribbean map from UT-Austin Library

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