Geocoded RSS to Google Earth
Archive for October, 2005
That’s 2 of 3 Hacks contributions. This will get a bit silly soon.
In other Yahoo news, they beta released Trip Planner today. While I don’t find the user experience all that satisfying, this is a landmark app. This is the first Big Three hosted app that enables user created geocontent and maps.
Ning Geo Pivot
In the spring I was invited to beta test and develop within a mysterious project called 24 Hour Laundry, now ning. These folks really grokked developers, and I spent a chunk of the summer digging into the unique bits of this system: the content store, a freely structured database designed to evolve cooperative data formats (some similarities to the rumored Google Base); the common user registration pool (no one has nailed open identity yet); and the cooperative development process of View Source and Clone Application (modeled on Marc Andreessen’s own early web enabler).
I aimed to push against the boundaries of how apps and data were developed in this community context; specifically how to integrate Maps and Location into the core of the offering. My main app was Geotagger, adding geography to the content pivot. It provides an interface to geotag any piece of content in Ning, and build pivotable maps for inclusion in other apps, all without requiring app developers to write any code themselves.
The PHP API has code for including a Google Map. I pushed for additional methods to support geocoded RSS annotations. In the pre-launch frenzy, “loadRss” was built into an AlphaComponent. Sweet! This could encourage Ning contributing to, and partaking of, the larger Geospatial Web. Geotagger essentially published geoRSS based on content store geotags, and generated code for developers utilising the GMaps alphacomponent. I integrated geocoders directly in GMaps, and that’s MGeocoder.
Unfortunately, “Alpha” does mean that, and not all is working “loadRss”. I have some tests posted at testmap.php. The lack of “loadRss” derails the model of code & data sharing in Geotagger, so it’s now in “Under Construction” mode. I’m hoping that this quirk can be worked out, and my work on Geotagger launched fully. Then I can show off how to integrate it with another app (probably my NingPets derived Hamster).
The other mapping work in Ning is superb, like Restaurant Reviews with Maps and Anselm’s WorldWiki. However, they miss something crucial, in that Location is not really available in the rest of the Ning development community; it’s locked away in each apps silo. One intention of the Geospatial Web is the easy overlay, interaction, remixing of various opengeodata sources, and I’d love to see this come to fruition in Ning.
OPEN PLAN Workshop
Take a dozen smart & creative people, vaguely around the same interest area. Place them in a room in Nottingham for a week, feed and (fire)water regularly, and poke & prod to some brilliant ideas emerge on the other side. The workshop took place a couple weeks ago, but I’m only now getting a chance to look back. It was pretty enjoyable!
Participants ranged from an artist who built interactive algorithmic audio doors in China to a geometry professor. After a lot of talk and hacking, we crystalized into three project groups. Artifacts from the week were collected on the wiki. There’s detail on the participants and projects; I hope to delve in deeper on the amazing stuff demo’d and described which I didn’t get to fully explore, like 2D barcodes, new models of space (similar to JJ Gibson’s affordances), Kennington Common, and spatial generative music sharing.
Steve Coast, Libby Miller and I hacked towards a shared vision, which may be crystalizing around a location/mapping/events/networks technology demo/deployment at the Futuresonic Festival, the last stage of the PLAN plan.
PLAN is intended to bring locative technology into an arts practice. To do something not about infrastructure, I put together mapping flickr tags. This differs from flickr mapping projects: it’s only the tags, without any obvious geographic context. The results are pretty interesting, a mix of accurate place names, abstract poetics, and completely random nonsense. We went looking for Sadness in New York but they are apparently too busy.
My angle in my application to the Workshop was Locative Animals. Nothing much happened on this, but I did get to meet a researcher with similar interests, Shaun Lawson. Here’s the blurb I submitted on Locative Animals.
My interest in Locative Arts has been somewhat on the fringes of the predominantly urban, socially focused arts projects. The natural world is under ever greater stresses, and these technologies, usually employed to buffer nature, can and have been effectively used to raise awareness of the non-human world and give it a voice. The idea of over saturation of technology has been parodied by projects like “Augmented Animals” [http://www.auger-loizeau.com/augani_pop_01.html], though in reality new communication modes are being employed by wildlife researchers to track elephants and reindeer by SMS and GPS. I’ve been gathering various resources on spatial technology and spatial understanding in animals under the moniker “Locative Animals” [http://del.icio.us/mikel_maron/locativeanimals/].
Nature is not seperate from urban experience, though most city dwellers would not be that aware of the populations living in their midst. Sensing and tracking of wild fuana and flora in urban environments could raise awareness of wildlife in a tangible, positive way. Bird watchers are particularly active and independent; tools to bridge individual bird monitoring into larger situated databases and patterns could be another interesting application of the technology. Another interesting area is Porton Downs [http://www.ecn.ac.uk/sites/porto.html], site of much controversial chemical testing, but due to the lack of intensive human activity, also home to many rare species that have disappeared from the rest of the UK. If access is be attained, artistic investigations of nature on this site would be potentially very insightful.
This concept grows out of my interest in spatial models of ecosystems, and spatial niches. Birds may not be able to navigate human buildings that competently, but they can migrate to precise locations over 1000s of miles, with senses evolved for the purpose. In other words, a map is only one (and sometimes inferior) way to get around. The Nottingham Jubilee Campus was a pretty successful brownfield restoration, melding natural and urban fabric.
In collaboration with UCL CASA and FAO EMPRES, we’ve developed a worldKit visualization of H5N1 Avian Flu outbreaks over the past year.
Interacting along both the space and time axes brings this data into new, lively comprehension. This is a very visible issue right now in the UK, and elsewhere, with plenty of fear inducing partial information. Hopefully this, and other tools, will elucidate this complex situation.
GEO:connexion article published
GEO:connexion has published an article I authored in the October issue! It’s a shotgun take on my work and perspectives in web mapping.
worldKit is now Open Source
Just over two years ago, the first rev of worldKit was released. It was basically World as a Blog, with some config to read any geocoded RSS file. The aim was simple: to make mapping easy.
Since then, I’ve developed in my spare time and full time. Loads of fantastic maps and geodata have been published, from all over the world, from individuals and huge beauracracies, in themes I never imagined. GeoRSS is fast becoming the baseline for publishing geographic data on the web. It’s been fantastic. And the real privelage is that it has led to contacts, collaborations, and friendships with so many smart, creative and passionate people.
Today, mapping is a whole lot easier. Google, Yahoo, O’Reilly, all the big tech and media companies, are clued into this and are fully aware of the power of maps. It sometimes seems incredible to me that worldKit still has a strong niche in the web mapping world. I think it’s both one of the simplest and most sophisticated packages out there, and still has a lot of potential.
Going Open Source is the best way to see worldKit reach its potential. I will still be very involved, but you know, I can’t do it alone. I’m really looking forward to see how this develops. Welcome!
Biked under Brighton Pier
Tuesday was maybe the most extreme tide of the year, after the full moon close to the Equinox. The sea was out so far, I was able to ride my bike under Brighton Pier! Too bad I didn’t have my camera. You have to know Brighton to know that’s something; usually the only the solid surface at the beach are the mounds of grey pebbles. But on this evening, the sea stretched back to reveal expanses of nearly flat rideable sand, crossed with shallow impromptu drainage channels. There was a group of cyclists riding from the harbor wall, going for distance; wonder how far they got..
Open PLAN Workshop
Take a dozen smart & creative people, normally independent, vaguely around the same interest area. Place them in a room in Nottingham for a week, feed and (fire)water regularly, and poke & prod to some brilliant ideas emerge on the other side. It was pretty enjoyable!
Participants included an artist who built interactive algorithmic audio doors in China, a designer of Swedish live action role playing weekends, mobile device phreaks, geo and rdf hackers, and a geometry professor.
This summer I’ve been beta-ing and integrating geodata/mapping in 24 Hour Laundry, now Ning.
Still tidying up my geotagging apps, more on that later.