Archive for the ‘Critique’ Category

When open data is not open: World Bank double speak on Google Map Maker?

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

[Editor’s note: Good news! The World Bank has listened and responded with a new blog post clarifying their stance on open data and backed away from Google Map Maker: ”If the public helps to collect/create map data, the public should be able to access, use & reuse that data.”]

By Nathaniel Vaughn KELSO

In their recent op-ed in the New York Times and on the official World Bank blog, Caroline Anstey* and Soren Gigler** made a compelling case for open data and open government that is fatally flawed. Unless fixed, it has dangerous implications for the future of open data globally. The World Bank’s new policy around map data is needlessly exclusionary: public data should remain publicly accessible.

Over the past two years, the World Bank has made great strides in making its processes more transparent and rethinking the international organization as a development platform and innovation bank.

However, on January 13th, Ms. Anstey and Mr. Gigler muddied that effort by partnering with Google on map data as an end game around many of those “open” goals. Let me be very clear:

The World Bank’s new agreement with Google is a neocolonial wolf handing out shiny blue Map Maker t-shirts.

Google Map Maker expressly prohibits citizen cartographers from using/sharing the very data they add to the map in ways that can help their own development efforts. Users are locked into the Google platform: they cannot export their data or create derivative work, especially commercial projects. Nor can they share that geo data with other online mapping efforts, especially critical during disaster relief.

The World Bank has successfully partnered on map data before, most notably in Haiti with OpenStreetMap (OSM) in response to the major earthquake and the following humanitarian crises.

The Haiti experience shows that crowd sourcing map data works. Most developing countries do not have basic local map data. Timely, accurate geo data showing roads, schools, fresh water sources, health facilities, and more help save lives during an emergency, and in the meantime we all enjoy with up-to-the-minute maps. Regardless if you are in Washington, D.C. or Nairobi, Kenya.

I agree the Bank’s core mission is advanced by improving access to geo data for humanitarian response and development planning. This serves to make development more effective and inclusive by expanding access to basic geo information.

It is appropriate to engage citizens in the Bank’s client countries by inviting them to participate (via mapping parties and online portals) and strengthen the capacity of civil society to “put them selves on the map”. That is an inalienable right and a noble effort by the Bank to facilitate.

But this new agreement falls down on close inspection of the Google Map Maker terms of service. The corporate legalese is contrary to another Bank core principle:

“the right to use that same open data to empower citizens in effective development.”

The Google partnership proposes a new digital serfdom. The Bank should instead embrace the OpenStreetMap model: a system of micro-data grants that empowers a self-sustaining wave of economic development as more data gets added to the map. The citizen map maker should have an ownership share.

I urge the Ms. Anstey and Mr. Gigler to emphasize to the World Bank’s local offices and partner organizations (including the United Nations) that this new agreement with Google is *non-exclusive*, meaning the Bank can and must open data by sharing local geo data with other organizations, like OpenStreetMap.

When the Bank partners to allow citizens to draw their own map, the resulting map data must be free and open. Indeed, open mapping tools and civil society organizations like OpenStreetMap (who innovated first with mapping parties and their online map editor) should be leveraged and grown as much as possible.

Instead, the current agreement allows Google to use local citizens to collect information for free and make exclusive profit. The agreement, specifically the general Map Maker terms or special ODbL terms for the World Bank project, should be rewritten as Patrick Meier*** suggests, to ”allow citizens themselves to use the data in whatever platform they so choose to improve citizen feedback in project planning, implementation and monitoring & evaluation.”

Terms of use like Open Database License (ODbL) promote circulation of geo data for the most good and Google has been receptive in the past to opening up parts of their Map Maker data for humanitarian relief. Let’s complete the circle so this type of license is a core part of a revised World Bank “open” data agreement and have it in place before the next disaster.

The World Bank must reiterate its commitment to truly open data with due speed.

—–

The author is chief cartographer for the Natural Earth, a public domain map database. His maps have been published in The Washington Post and National Geographic and he is a design technologist at Stamen Design.

—–

* Caroline Anstey is a managing director of the World Bank.
** Soren Gigler is Senior Governance Specialist, Innovation at the World Bank.
*** Patrick Meier is director of crises mapping at Ushahidi.

Related reading

PR: World Bank and Google Announce Map Maker Collaboration

Open Aid Partnership:

Patrick Meier, Ushahidi’s director of crisis mapping

RWW coverage

Directions Magazine coverage

Google’s Official LatLong Blog

Global Integrity

Does a Google-World Bank Deal On Crowdsourcing Ask Too Much of the Crowd? (TechPresident)

“What Gets Measured Can Be Changed”: World Bank Turns Its Data Catalog Public (TechPresident)

The World Bank Responds to the Google Map Maker Deal (Global Integrity)

 

Review of Avenza’s PDF Maps app for iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

openwith processing maptools

This app gets the job done: PDF Maps introduces a strongly played set of basic features and later versions promise to add more advanced features like layer visibility and feature attribute query. Professional cartographers can use the app to deliver custom cartography maps that leverage GPS to locate the map-reading customer with the magic blue dot. It’s certainly not an ArcPad, but it works on the iPad and you’ll find it fun to use (and the app price is right).

I quite enjoy Avenza’s new free PDF Maps iOS app, free and available now on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been testing it for several months using both the beta and  final release versions. I’ve used the app in my neighborhood, on a cross country road trip, and we’ve been using it to ground truth maps at at my day job. I’ve created my own GeoPDFs and used those from USGS and Avenza.

Besides myself, I setup two non-cartographers with an iPad (3g  with gps) and several GeoPDFs depicting neighborhood-level street maps to field check in the Washington DC metro area. They were amazed at how easy it was to locate themselves on the map and make notes by dropping markers they bring back to the office for me to review. Because these particular maps include street labels, they don’t need to switch back and forth to Apple’s provided Google Maps app as they navigate.

The inaugural version is iOS only but the company has had requests for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and even Windows 7 Mobile. Expect an Android version next. Future iterations of the app may introduce a two-tiered, free-basic feature and pay advanced feature parellel versions, which seems reasonable to me. I’m also excited to see if a white-label version becomes available (much like the Flash SWF export out of Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator) that cartographers can use to brand the experience and pre-bundle their maps.

PDF Maps offers the following capabilities:
  • View and load your own custom cartography maps and view them with GPS location
  • Supports both Adobe/ESRI geospatial PDF maps and TerraGo/USGS GeoPDF® files.
  • Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live network connection
  • Standard GSP app features: Plot way-points, enter attribute data and notes, measure distances and areas
  • Standard iOS interface: Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick, double tap)
  • HD version for iPad same app as the basic version for iPhone, slightly reworked interface
  • Does not currently support waypoint export, a key feature
  • Does not currently support import of KML and GPX files

To create a GeoPDF, you’ll need ArcGIS 9.3.1+ to export from ArcMap with preserve coordinate system checked. Or use Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator (version 8.2+). You can also download thousands of GeoPDFs from USGS. Even though the USGS files use the TerraGo GeoPDF format specification (versus Adobe + ESRI’s), it will open and render in PDF Maps.app. Avenza also offers dozens of sample GeoPDFs linked from within the app to get you started (click Maps, then +, then From Avenza PDF Maps Library and browse the list).

Adding maps is as simple as dragging them to iTunes or attaching to an email (making it easy to send map updates to your field checker). Clicking on a PDF link on the iPhone or iPad now prompts to open in the app, as seen in the first screenshot above . Once opened in the PDF Maps app, it will take a few seconds to minutes to render, second screenshot above. Once open, several tools are available, the most important of which is simply the “locate me” triangle button on the map map view.

Even though it’s all about the PDF map you’re looking at, the app makes it convenient to open the same view in Maps.app to see Google’s version of reality for cross checking, especially using the satellite map tiles there. This is possible for both the current map view using the tools menu, and to open a specific waypoint marker after clicking it’s location field.

I’ve loaded PDFs with the app that are more than 10 mb of vectors and performance has been good. When the map first loads it will process and prepare several zoom levels of precached tiles. This will make panning and zooming faster during actual map use and is worth the wait.

During precache rendering, you can still use the map, but the parts that will still be loading will be fuzzy for a while. Very large maps (larger than 20 mb, or more than 2000 sq. inches) are slower to render in this version (hey, it’s a mobile phone). For larger areas, I’ve been splitting the exported map into separate files. When multiple maps loaded in, there is a Maps table of contents listing.

I found a couple continuing quirks with the app and one major missing feature. The app really needs to export the map’s waypoints as CSV, KML, and GPX as an email attachment. I wish repositioning an existing pin was easier. The hit areas on some buttons is small, making it hard to use in a moving car. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple marker icon labels open, but sometimes that is odd. At any rate, there’s no way to close them all en mass.

Quick and dirty test GeoPDF files:
(using Natural Earth, US Census, and other draft data)

Note: Because of USGS website quirks, it is not possible to directly download a USGS GeoPDF onto your iPhone/iPad in the field. The website doesn’t render properly (something about IE and cookies), and the resulting download file is ZIP format rather than PDF. Not sure why, since the PDF should already be optimized for file size (there’s only a 1.5% file size savings between ZIP and PDF in the Washington D.C. West quad sheet).

Check out more screenshots:

Deep simplicity: A personal graphics Manifesto (Alberto Cairo)

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

raivap

[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 . . .

‘One of the worst graphics the New York Times have published – ever!’ (Alberto Cairo via Visual Journalism)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

boxoffice

[Editor’s note: Are increasingly complex graphics (visual confections / data visualizations), aka chart porn & eye/brain candy, necessarily good at conveying essential information to readers? Alberto Cairo says no, see below. I have to wonder if he means just for daily minute-read journalism or for publications that have a tradition of offering readers, say, tear-out map supplements and posters they like to admire and reexamine. This might have been raised by the 2008 box office graphic from the NY Times, implementing a steamgraph, but the general question applies to all infographic professionals. We have awesome new tools and datasets, but we still need to focus on fundamentals, beyond interesting and visually appealing, to consider what as Lee Byron calls the “interplay between considerations of aesthetics and legibility.”

From Edward Tufte (p121 in Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative):

A confection is an assembly of many visual events, selected … from various Streams of Story, then brought together and juxtaposed on the still flatland of paper. By means of a multiplicity of image-events, confections illustrate an argument, present and enforce visual comparisons, combine the real and the imagined, and tell us yet another story.

Tufte actually shows a similar chart to the NYT box office example  in the same work from the cover of “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry”. He says of the Rock and Roll example: “The multiple, parallel flows locate music-makers in two dimensions – linking musical parents and offspring from 1955 to 1974, and listing contemporaries for each year.”

But what fundamentals and what audience? A later NY Times graphic on How Different Groups Spend Their Day resolves part of the box office problem with an ability to focus (isolate) parts of the stream into a standard axis chart and thus read and compare quantitatively. Much less complicated, but also on a standard axis: Jackson’s Billboard Rankings Over Time. I don’t entirely buy the similar axis baseline argument as I’m a fan of graduated circle maps, but reading them is certainly not for the average reader and must be augmented with summary charting and text.

But the box office chart is more approachable (read fun and inviting) then simple charting per Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller. But I think simple axis presentation of Taking apart the federal budget is easier to read at first glance then the multi-axis Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent, even if I use the same approach in the Washington Post’s Potus Tracker to analyze Obama’s schedule. At the core is trying to make increasingly complex datasets (2) grockable visually. Have fun figuring it out and in the meantime enjoy this XKCD comic ;)]

Republished from .

Alberto Cairo is a former professor at Chapel Hill, where he taught online graphics. Before that he was the succesful graphics director at El Mundo Online. In short: This guy knows what he is talking about, when it comes to both printed and online graphics …

Today Alberto took a critical look at the current data-visualization-trend, which got a huge boost last year, when New York Times took home a gold medal and even the ‘Best of Show’-award for a certain Box Office graphic. Regular readers of this site will remember the discussion we had last year after the awards. Click here to read it again.

Emperor’s new clothes
What Alberto is saying out in the open now, has been floating around for a while. But apparently only a few dare to say that graphics are getting too complicated – for fear of being looked upon as stupid, if they dare challenge such abstract wonders. I can’t help to think of the Emperor’s new clothes, whenever such a situation takes place.

Continue reading and view video of Alberto at

Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web (A List Apart)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

flashstandards

[Editor's note: A sane approach to the HTML versus Flash "war": ceasefire. Get on with designing great site around great content for your readers.]

Republished from A List Apart.
By Dan Mall.

You’ve probably heard that Apple recently announced the iPad. The absence of Flash Player on the device seems to have awakened the HTML5 vs. Flash debate. Apparently, it’s the final nail in the coffin for Flash.

The arguments run wide, strong, and legitimate on both sides. Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls Flash Player buggy. John Gruber of Daring Fireball says that Apple wants to maintain their own ecosystem—a formula Adobe’s software doesn’t easily fit into. On the other end, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch argues that Flash is a great content delivery vehicle. Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for Flash platform developer relations at Adobe, expresses his concerns over closed platforms. Interactive developer Grant Skinner reflects on the advantages of Flash.

However, the issue is larger than which one is better. It’s about preference and politics. It’s an arms race. This is the Cold War of the Web.

Ceasefire

Both the standards community and the Flash community are extremely good at sharing knowledge and supporting the people within their respective groups. The relationship across communities, however, isn’t nearly as cordial. Two things are happening: either the people within each camp stay to themselves, or one ignorantly hurls insults at the other.

As new technologies emerge, their following naturally starts small. An effective rallying cry is to find—or create—a common enemy. Huge strides such as Doug Bowman’s Wired redesign, Dave Shea’s CSS Zen Garden, and Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing With Web Standards had a significant influence, not only on the standards community, but on the entire web design industry. They positioned standards as an alternative to Flash and table-based sites, not in conflict with them. However, less enlightened followers wrongly interpreted these champions’ examples as the first assault. As Adobe Photoshop Principal Product Manager John Nack says, “people want a certain ‘killer’ narrative.”

Continue reading at A List Apart . . .

Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

no-trade-zone-us-china-iran-sanctions

[Editor's note: This world map from the Wall Street Journal uses map symbols that reinforce the thematic color coding of countries. The symbols all feature a hand (common gesture for "stop"), and shape and color differences further differentiate the symbols. This graphic overloading of visual variables (using more than just shape, or just color, or just size) ensures a larger number of readers will comprehend the map's visual message. In this case, color between the symbols and the choropleth map colors links the symbols with the countries. All countries are directly labeled with their name and explanation. I like this map for a second reason: the Wall Street Journal is using a new CMS (content management system) that the Washington Post is also working to adopt and it shows how graphics can be flowed inside the article text instead of getting lost in a tab, link, or thumbnail. Many eye tracking studies show that readers spend more time on graphics than on article text but online, graphics are often hard to find (if they are found at all). This new CMS puts graphics back in the natural flow of reading.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By PETER FRITSCH

Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.

A unit of state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., for example, has made nearly 300 illegal shipments to U.S. firms since a ban was imposed on CPMIEC and its affiliates in mid-2006, according to an analysis of shipping records by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nonprofit proliferation watchdog.

A Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.

The CPMIEC shipments, worth millions of dollars, include everything from anchors and drilling equipment to automobile parts and toys. In many cases, CPMIEC acted as a shipping intermediary — activity also banned under a 2006 presidential order.

The ability of CPMIEC and other foreign companies to continue doing business in the U.S. despite the sanctions comes as the Obama administration considers fresh economic sanctions against Iran. The illegal shipments suggest that U.S. sanctions have become so numerous and complex that they have become difficult to enforce.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Being the Fastest Is Not Enough (InfoGraphicsNews)

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

mapita22

[Editor’s note: You’ll start seeing more mashups on The Washington Post site the next month. Staff are being trained to use a new mashup maker tool I made that churns out decent maps in 5 minutes flat. Just like in print, normal rules about accuracy in reporting apply. The bottom line, don’t show more location detail than you know to be true, as this blog post from InfoGraphicsNews illustrates. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from the InfoGraphicsNews blog.
Original on 12/04/2008.

Yesterday, the terrosrist group ETA killed another person in Spain. In this cases, as most of the cases, internet media have the initative. The first idea is to place the new. Shw where it took place. But the problem is that in this kind of news all the information is changing all the time during the first hour, and the data are not accurate. Yesterday, we only knew that Ignacio Uria was killed while he was going to his favourite restaurant, Kiruri. We didn’t even knew if he came form his house or form his job.

The punch line:

None of those that placed the killing on a exact place were right.

Some rectified later, others didn’t even change it. Being the fastest can’t go before telling the truth. On reconstructions many editors use to say that “the reader know this is not exactly the truth, that we’re just guessing”. I don’t want the reader to not trust us. I prefer to have a reader who really think that when we say something we know it and we’re not guessing.
These are screenshots from some spanish websites two hours after the agencies gave the news:

Continue to view screenshots at InfoGraphicsNews blog . . .

Figure-Ground in an Age of Set Color Palettes

Friday, July 24th, 2009

cir904

[Editor’s note: This map from the Economist suffers from stiff adherence to a limited color palette. Not only are red and green, the two primary colors used, hard to distinguish (1, 2, 3) for 8% of men (use Color Oracle to test), but it’s just hard to focus on what the topic of the map is. Because of it’s complexity (there are 3 different legends, with a total of 9 basic map classes), this map tips towards being a reference map rather than an explainer map (which usually just focuses on a max of 3 top-level classes). When I say “figure” here, I mean “what is the focus of the graphic”. By “ground” I mean the background, supporting elements (5+ here) that help locate and provide context for the figure.

The graphic treatments on the green-tinted land, blue-tinted water, Arctic circle, solid country lines in brown, dashed province lines in brown, and a white water vignette compete directly with the figure instead of supporting it. While this basic color palette works for simple locators, an explainer graphic like this suffers from strict adherence.

A possible redesign might include using white water fill instead of blue (and thus avoid the water vignette, necessitated by the small 7% difference in HSV value  between the green and blue right next to each other), a creme-beige instead of green for the land, grey lines for the country and provinces, and different hues entirely for the Inuit and Sami areas but that share the same saturation and value (one is dull now, the other bright). The dots and dashes that distinguish the ice extents  is done well, but the lines should offset from each other in the Greenland Sea.

The key objective: if it’s important enough to put on the map and feature in the figure (to include it in the legend), make it clearly legible.]

Republished from the Economist.
Jul 16th 2009 | NUUK, GREENLAND

The rights of Arctic peoples: Not a barren country
More political powers for the indigenous people of the Arctic could soon be matched by more economic clout

THE crowds in Nuuk, Greenland’s pretty coastal capital, marked the devolution of more powers from Denmark, on midsummer’s day, with cheers, processions and flags. The town thronged with men in white anoraks and women in kalaallisuut, an outfit of sealskin boots and trousers set off with a beaded top. Even a dusting of summer snow failed to chill the mood.

The newly elected prime minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, who represents an Inuit-dominated party, promised that his country would act as an “equal partner” with Denmark, the old colonial power. The Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, responded with a pledge that Greenland could claim full independence whenever it chooses. A more cordial separation is hard to imagine.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

“You take it – No, you take it”: the Bir Tawil Trapezoid (StrangeMaps)

Friday, July 10th, 2009

[Editor’s note: I’ve been researching sovereign state boundary disputes for Natural Earth Vector at the 1:15,000,000 and 1:50,000,000 scales so I read this entry at the StrangeMaps blog last week with some curiosity. Egypt effectively administers their portion of the “disputed” area along the Red Sea and seems to have dropped their claim to the Sudan portion south of the 22nd parallel. This boundary will be shown de facto along the 22nd parallel the Natural Earth Vector dataset. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from Strange Maps. June 28, 209.

bs18

The Bir Tawil Triangle is a desert of sand and rocks on the border between Egypt and the Sudan. It is also officially the most undesired territory in the world. Bir Tawil is the only piece of land on Earth (*) that is not claimed by any country – least of all by its neighbours. For either of them to claim the Bir Tawil Triangle would be to relinquish their claim to the Hala’ib Triangle. And while Hala’ib is also mainly rock and sand, it is not only ten times larger than Bir Tawil, but also adjacent to the Red Sea - so rather more interesting.

This bizarre situation started out with what is supposed to be the simplest of borders: a straight line. By the Condominium Treaty of 1899, the British drew the line between Egypt and what was then still known as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan at the 22nd parallel north, resulting in a straight-line border of about 1,240 km (770 miles) from Libya to the Red Sea.

Continue reading at StrangeMaps . . .

Greenland Gains Self-Government from the Kingdom of Denmark, Kinda (Economist)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

2609ww2[Editor’s note: What is a country? A nation? A nation-state? By some counts, there are about 195 “countries” or 194 (US State Department) in the world, but by others like the ISO and United Nations, about 245 which includes extra “regions” for statistical reasons or FIPS code assignments. The World Bank (2) says 186 or 210. How can there be such a wide spectrum of valid answers? The issue is complicated by historic colonial relationships with overseas dependencies and affiliated political administrative units, and by the non-uniform way different “countries” sub-divide themselves.

For instance, France considers all it’s “dependencies” unitary parts of France, while the U.S. does not view it’s own territories equal to states vis-a-vis constitutional rights. But some unitary parts of France outside mainland Europe get treated differently from Metropolitan France by the European Union (they don’t necessarily get an E.U. passport).

This week, Greenland steps closer to becoming one of the club of 195 “countries” in the world, but really it’s just getting more quasi-self-government (sticking in the 245 bracket) within the Kingdom of Denmark’s administrative umbrella (which is and is not the same as the “country” of Denmark) for defense and foreign policy.

The higher number doesn’t even address sub-national semi-autonomous entities like the United Kingdom’s England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland which fall somewhere between what we in the U.S. think of as “states” and “provinces” (1st order admin units) and those top level countries and nations. Nor does it address disputed or break away regions like Abkhazia.

For Natural Earth Vector, we will include groupings at both “top-level” views (about 195 and 245), and at the 1st order admin (state, province, over 3,000). We will also include a sample of sub-national areas and disputed, breakaway areas.]

Republished from the Economist.

Two tonnes of rare whale meat were distributed in Greenland as part of celebrations to mark the start of an era of self-government. After nearly three centuries of rule by Denmark, Greenland’s 56,000 people will gradually take control of most domestic affairs, although defence and foreign policy remain in Danish hands. Greenlandic is now the official language. Photo by: Adam Roberts.

Continue reading related story, “Greenland’s future: Divorce up north?” from Nov. 27, 2008 . . .