Motivating volunteers

Crowdsourcing projects like OpenStreetMap, Google Map Maker or Building Maker without compensation for contributors rely on volunteers’ efforts. There are various studies which try to shed light on the motivational factors of such volunteers. One way to motivate people to contribute their time and effort can be to make them feel that they are part of … Continue reading Motivating volunteers

Google in Libya

Maps are about territory. And in history, cartography has often been (ab)used to political ends. Due to its big popularity and global visibility Google’s geo-products have attracted their share of border and naming debates and disputes over time and the change of a border’s status or the name of a proportion of land in, for … Continue reading Google in Libya

Urban Earth: Photo-mapping urban spaces

A Geography enthusiast at The Geography Collective (image by The Geography Collective)

The Urban Earth project by The Geography Collective aims at representing humanity’s habitat by walking across some of earth’s biggest urban areas. The motivation is critical of media and their portrayal of our living environments:

The media distorts the way we see our world(s) with stereotypical images highlighting the most extremes of places. Urban Earth aims to expose what our cities really look like away from the bias and spin of commercial agendas.

(This reminds me a bit of the distorted body image in the media and, for example, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. For an ever-astounding short film [1:15 mins] click here. End of short side-track.)

The Rules

The recipe of Urban Earth is very simple: Walk across a city taking a photograph every 8 steps (roughly) and put them together sequentially into a movie. Photographs are always taken looking forward, without focusing on specific landmarks or ‘nice’ parts of the cityscape. The thing about an Urban Earth walk is that it tries to find normality within each city:

Geography is more important than many people think. A random route across a city may expose many things, but an Urban Earth walk is special because it attempts to reveal what a city is like for the people who live in it. Urban Earth is not about following the tourist trail or tracking down the most extreme places… it is about finding normality.

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Old maps of undersea cables

Boing Boing highlights this map of undersea cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company system printed in 1901. At Boing Boing’s source a person points to a treasure trove for anybody interested in the history of undersea cables or, specifically, related cartography. Above map with its salient red cables clearly highlights the Europe- and US-centric history of … Continue reading Old maps of undersea cables

Swiss maps on your website

Yesterday in the late afternoon the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo) declared (German) the exposure of maps via web service and opening up of their API (press release also only in German) through Swisstopo web access (brief description in English) with the following two options: WMTS option (Web Map Tile Service): This service lets you display current geodata (aerial … Continue reading Swiss maps on your website

New method locates you within a few hundred metres

A new method developed by Wang et al. claims to be able to geolocate IP addresses much (they claim 50 times) more accurately than has been previously feasible. The new method uses a three-tier approach: 1) sending a data packet and measuring how long it takes to bounce back, indicating an imprecise distance; 2) doing the same with all institutions with known geolocation (for example, universities or businesses) within 200 km distance of the first guess and comparison of bounce-back-times to refine the estimated location; 3) doing a similar refinement to 2) at a finer resolution.

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As a sort of April fool’s joke (I guess) and a pun on the Open<XY>Map naming scheme somebody (Grant Slater of Firefishy?) set up an OpenWhateverMap: It doesn’t quite deliver on the promise though, IMO, since it shows ‘only’ differently rendered OpenStreetMap tiles. It fails to acknowledge the full picture of developments in the … Continue reading OpenWhateverMap

TargetMap let’s you put your data on – well – a map

Today I first heard about TargetMap. TargetMap is a mapping portal in public beta. Everybody can create customised maps with their own data (so-called ReportMaps). The interface for creating a ReportMap and the display of a ReportMap is implemented in Flash – and thus requires a bypass of your Flash blocking software (and cannot be consumed using iDevices).

Using the TargetMap wizard you can choose the world, a region or specific countries to be mapped. TargetMap then offers various options to bring data onto your map. You can:

  • upload an Excel file containing the data
  • type values directly into a TargetMap table
  • paint a map (assign different colours to different regions by clicking on them)
  • load your own ReportMaps or others’ public ReportMaps and use them as a template or background for your own
  • use something called a Sales Territory Manager (this option comes only with a private subscription and thus I haven’t tested it)

The service is essentially free if used for public maps. If you don’t want your data to be on display publicly, you can opt to create maps for your own exclusive use – this, however, requires you to pay a fee to TargetMap (somewhat hefty 195$ for an annual subscription). Continue reading “TargetMap let’s you put your data on – well – a map”