Archive for the ‘Mapping’ Category

The Agnostic Cartographer: Google’s maps are embroiling the company in the world’s touchiest geopolitical disputes

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Like other mapping company operating internationally, Google has to meet multiple objectives when delineating national frontiers.  This article from the Washington Monthly discusses some of the hot water the company has gotten itself into. Google recently rolled out higher-precision boundary lines in it's Maps and Earth products to address some of these concerns. Image above: Picturesque but contentious: Google Maps made this village Chinese, temporarily. India wasn’t pleased. Photo: Annabelle Breakey. Thanks GeoStuff!]

Republished from Washington Monthly.
By John Gravois

One fateful day in early August, Google Maps turned Arunachal Pradesh Chinese. It happened without warning. One minute, the mountainous border state adjacent to Tibet was labeled with its usual complement of Indian place-names; the next it was sprinkled with Mandarin characters, like a virtual annex of the People’s Republic.

The error could hardly have been more awkward. Governed by India but claimed by China, Arunachal Pradesh has been a source of rankling dispute between the two nations for decades. Google’s sudden relabeling of the province gave the appearance of a special tip of the hat toward Beijing. Its timing, moreover, was freakishly bad: the press noticed that Google’s servers had started splaying Mandarin place-names all over the state only a few hours before Indian and Chinese negotiating teams sat down for talks in New Delhi to work toward resolving the delicate border issue.

Google rushed to admit its mistake, but not before a round of angry Indian blog posts and news articles had flourished online. Some commentators posited outright conspiracy between Beijing and the search engine. “Google Maps has always been more biased towards China over the Arunachal Pradesh border dispute,” surmised an Indian blogger. Even more ominously, one former member of Parliament told the Times of India, “The Chinese know how to time their statements ahead of a bilateral meeting.”

Google responded in a manner that radiated chilly omnipresence—by posting a statement in the comments section of what appeared to be every single Web site that had discussed the mix-up. “The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data,” Google announced. “We are in the process of reverting the data to its previous state, and expect the change to be visible in the product shortly.”

One mystery remained, however: how did such an error happen in “the product” in the first place? Why did Google have that perfect set of Chinese names lying around, ready to swap in for the Indian ones?

Continue reading at Washington Monthly . . .

MapQuest Opens Up, Embraces OpenStreetMap

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

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[Editor's note: MapQuest made a rare splash earlier this month when it announced it would begin using  OpenStreetMap data in some products. View State of the Map presentation at SlideShare. Images above from separate post showing top the new MapQuest styling of OpenStreetMap data and below the default OSM style. Thanks Katie!]

Republished from MapQuest.

AOL’s MapQuest announced today, at the 4th annual international State of the Map 2010 conference, their plan to be the first major mapping site to embrace and encourage open source mapping at scale.  As part of this initiative, MapQuest just launched their first site that is completely powered by open source data from OpenStreetMap.org!

This new project – open.mapquest.co.uk – was developed using the new MapQuest.com design but using data provided by the OpenStreetMap community.  The main difference between this new site and our existing MapQuest UK site is that the mapping and routing data was created, edited and enhanced by every day people like you.  OpenStreetMap was designed to give the local community the ability to update areas (roads, parks, hiking trails, bike paths, points of interest, etc) that they know in their own neighborhood and around the world, ultimately leading to what we believe will be the best and most accurate mapping experience for all.

AOL also announced today, a $1 million open-source mapping investment fund.  This fund will support the growth of open-source mapping in the United States in the local communities that Patch.com covers.  More information about the AOL grant application process is available by emailing osm@mapquest.com.

Continue reading at MapQuest . . .

Maybe places are more about time than location: Retrofitting Geo for the 4th Dimension (Fekaylius)

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Thanks Sylvain!]

Republished from Fekaylius’s place.

We are in a period of mass-market place ambiguity.

Places drift, jump, and fade, physically. Some places have a much higher propensity towards noticeable drift than others, but location, in general, is not stable. The geo-web of the past few years has mostly ignored this as a low impact edge case. The era of the Google Maps API dramatically boosted developer productivity and interest within the geo space because it simplified and lowered the barriers to entry, while simultaneously reinforcing a few paradigms that find easy adoption within rapidly moving startups and business, ideas like “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and “solve for the 80% use case”. Startups are constantly faced with a to-do list that can never be 100% complete, but these catchy ideas formalize and automate the painful process of deeming some desires unworthy of your attention. Since 80% of the places that most people are searching for, or reviewing, or visiting feel relatively immune to change (at least in the “several years” lifespan much of today’s software is being designed for), we have very quickly built up a stiff and rigid framework around these places to facilitate the steep adoption of these now ubiquitous geo-services. The rigidity is manifest in the ways that place drift isn’t handled, places are assumed to be permanent.

Continue reading at Fekaylius’ place . . .

TRAVERSE ME: Warwick campus GPS map (gpsdrawing.com)

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

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[Editor's note: One step closer to Johnathan Swift's 1:1 map of the world. "Walking 238 miles with a GPS generates a beautiful, freehand-looking map of college campus." Thanks amproehl!]

Republished from GISdrawing.com.

Traverse Me is a map drawn by walking across campus with a GPS device to invite the viewer to see a different landscape to that which surrounds them. It questions the possibilities of where they are and inspires a personal reading of their movements and explorations of the campus.

I responded to the structure of each location and avoided walking along roads and paths when possible.
The route was recorded with GPS technology and was walked in stages over the 300 hectare site.

Continue reading and view photos at GISdrawing.com . . .

Map: Top Secret America, A Washington Post Investigation (Kelso via WaPo)

Monday, July 19th, 2010

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[Editor's note: The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex, and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe. Discover the top-secret work being done in your community via our map and search relationships within this complex world on our network diagram. Monday's story focuses on the growth in Top Secret America since 9/11. Next up we cover the government's increasing dependence on contractors and delve into the Top Secret America neighborhood around Ft. Meade, Maryland. The map is constructed in Flash using the Google Maps API with custom map tiles for zooms 0 to 5. The government and company locations and work relationships are gathered from publicly available records. This project has been in the works for over a year, I hope you enjoy!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

A hidden world, growing beyond control

By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Watch the intro video at The Washington Post . . .

Read the article . . .

Interact with the map . . .

The ESRI UC ArcGIS 10 Q&A Response Is Up (James Fee)

Friday, July 9th, 2010

jmf-where20-2009-sidebar[Editor's note: As the GIS community prepares for the just released ArcGIS 10 and gathers for the annual User Conference in San Diego, Ezree cum E.S.R.I. has posted a Question and Answer FAQ about the new release. Notable to me: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is resurrected for the last time, time to learn Python! James Fee translates from corporate speak.]

Republished from Spatially Adjusted.

One of the best insights into ESRI and their direction is the UC Q&A. ESRI has posted the latest one here and some highlights are below:

Q: What has ESRI done in the area of map books?

A: At ArcGIS 10, functionality has been added to allow you to create map books using a feature layer to define map extents for multiple pages. This new functionality, in conjunction with all the other enhancements to support map books, is referred to as data driven pages. Data driven pages give you the ability to generate multiple pages by taking a single layout and iterating over a set of map extents. Any feature layer, point, line or polygon can be used, along with a margin, to define the extents.

A question I still get asked again and again is when is ESRI going to update DS Mapbook. Well now you’ve got a real solution built into ArcGIS 10.

Q: Does ArcGIS 10 open up more functionality for use with Python?

A: Python integration is one of the key features of ArcGIS 10. At this release we’ve introduced a new Python subsystem called ArcPy, which exposes many of the ArcGIS functions.

ArcPy is still a little kludgy, but wasn’t isn’t with ArcGIS 10.

Continue reading at Spatially Adjusted . . .

Nolli map of Rome, Interactive version of 1748 masterpiece

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

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[Editor's: I was reminded of Nolli's work by Michal Migurski this weekend. Fresh off the heals of his award winning interactive version of the 2001 Atlas of Oregon, Erik Steiner presents the original Nolli map in a Flash-based interface to toggle annotation layers and zoom into the engraving. Extensive scholarly background is also provided on the site. Eric is now the lab director of the Spatial History Lab at Stanford University.]

Republished from University of Oregon.

The 1748 Map of Rome, by Giambattista Nolli is widely regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city ever created and serves to geo-reference a vast body of information to better understand the Eternal City and its key role in shaping Western Civilization. The Nolli Map Web Site introduces students to Rome and the structure of its urban form; it illustrates the evolution of the city over time; and it reveals diverse factors that determined its development.

Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756) was an architect and surveyor who lived in Rome and devoted his life to documenting the architectural and urban foundations of the city. The fruit of his labor, La Pianta Grande di Roma (“the great plan of Rome”) is one of the most revealing and artistically designed urban plans of all time. The Nolli map is an ichnographic plan map of the city, as opposed to a bird’s eye perspective, which was the dominant cartographic representation style prevalent before his work. Not only was Nolli one of the first people to construct an ichnographic map of Rome, his unique perspective has been copied ever since.

The map depicts the city in astonishing detail. Nolli accomplished this by using scientific surveying techniques, careful base drawings, and minutely prepared engravings. The map’s graphic representations include a precise architectural scale, as well as a prominent compass rose, which notes both magnetic and astronomical north. The Nolli map is the first accurate map of Rome since antiquity and captures the city at the height of its cultural and artistic achievements. The historic center of Rome has changed little over the last 250 years; therefore, the Nolli map remains one of the best sources for understanding the contemporary city.

The intention of this website is to reveal both the historical significance of the map and the principles of urban form that may influence city design in the future. During the last half of the 20th century, architects and urban designers have shown a renewed interest in what the Nolli map has to offer, leading to new urban theories and a model for the study of all cities.

Interact with the map at UofO . . .

Deep simplicity: A personal graphics Manifesto (Alberto Cairo)

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Alberto Cairo picks up where he left off in March, further defining what he calls "Deep simplicity" and why news infographics should use it to counter the trend of complex visualizations that are more data explorations (dumps) rather than distilled presentations. "Unless you belong to the small community of specialists they are aimed at," you won't get those complex visualizations. Instead focus on sharing the "why" and "how" with less of the raw "what".]

Republished from Visualopolis.

Last week I was working on a science infographic for Época with the help of my colleague Gerson Mora (3D guru) when I went back to the idea I’ve been thinking about for the past few months, and that you can see outlined in the previous article: is it possible to create graphics that are simple and deep at the same time? If it is, they probably are the ones that news magazine readers appreciate the most.

This is the graphic we worked on for a couple of days. Simple, isn’t it? Just four white 3D Poser-like heads that display different levels of anger. The story this graphic was published with deals with the outbursts of rage that many soccer players are showing during the South Africa World Cup. We wanted to explain what happens in your brain when that negative emotion overrules your conscious mecanisms, making you lose control. And why it happens. [...]

This piece illustrates a fancy concept Ive been thinking about for future articles and books: deep simplicity. There’s a book under the same name by John Gribbin, but it has nothing to do with graphics (it’s about chaos theory and complexity). There’s also a little masterpiece by John Maeda that promotes something similar to what I propose, but applied to design in general, and in a more abstract level. I confess that some of Maeda’s ideas permeate my own reflections heavily. [...]

What does deep simplicity mean, anyway?

Continue reading at Visualopolis . . .

You’ve seen one block, you’ve seen them all

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

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Ever look close, I mean real close at the imagery you seen in Google Earth and other online map providers? You’ll notice most of it, in the United States at least, comes from the USGS or USDA Farm Service Agency. But have you noticed they sometimes doctor the imagery to remove clouds or other collection artifacts? Well, look at the above image again ;) Here’s the Gmaps view in Tybee Island, GA. Thanks Andrew and Geoff!

New City Landscapes – Interactive Tweetography Maps (UrbanTick)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Series of maps showing twitter tweet density in New York, London, Paris and Munich (some but not all tweets are tagged with geographic coordinates) with hypsometric tints, contours, and placenames (with some literary license). A little more refined than those San Francisco crime maps floating around earlier this month. Thanks Andy!]

Republished from @UrbanTick

Over the past few months we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data. Via a radius of 30km around New York, London, Paris, Munich we have collated the number of Tweets and created our New City Landscape Maps.

Continue reading at UrbanTick . . .