This is a school trip no one is going to forget. Two bus loads of school kids ended up at an alleyway of the same name instead of a historic landmark because the bus driver had problems with their sat-nav. To compound the problem, “To make matters worse, the children were riding in two coaches not yet fitted with a tracking device allowing staff back at base to pinpoint their location and re-direct them” The bus company owner stressed that it wasn’t the technology that was the problem it was the quality of the content. A map is only as good as the information it contains, no matter how advanced technology gets.
MSN Lifestyle for Men has an interesting interview and picture of a “high tech rancher” who uses “A GPS unit feeds into Cox’s laptop, which uses GIS software to map the ranch’s 27,000 semi-arid acres and pinpoint the more than 100 pasture areas and water sources.” and “Digital hubs update Cox on weather and soil conditions. In development: a telemetry device to detect every bite taken by a cow as well as the type of plant being devoured.” A website for sustainable business has Green Dream Jobs which lists jobs like Urban Forestery. Of course, there is always the GIS jobs clearinghouse
More of a book mind map like you did in grade school, “Gnooks is a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine. Discover new writers you will like, travel the map. of literature and discuss your favorite books and authors.” You can type in the name of an author and it will tell map out other authors that people read. There is also gnod music, movies, and a global network. The creator says that, “You might call it a search-engine to find things you don’t know about”. It’s like the ultimate form of browsing.
Some people don’t like scavenger hunts such as geocaching and the old fashioned clues and X marks the spot map because participants sometimes ignore common sense or courtesy. Some of the problems are caused by poor planning on the part of organizers. What was Cadbury Schweppes thinking when they organized a scavenger hunt that included one of the U.S.’s most historic cemeteries? Are people searching for a hidden coin that promises big money prizes going to stop mid-hunt to ponder the graves of John Hancock or Paul Revere? The Boston Parks commission closed the cemetery out of fear that graves would be desecrated. You would like to think that people would know that the coin wouldn’t be buried in a grave, which is probably what the company hired by Cadbury Schweppes was thinking.
Imagine being asked to form a discussion group with your friends to decide what life should be like in 2025? Okay, now imagine that with no Star Trek references. Science Horizons UK is a government group asking UK citizens to do that just and submit their information to the government. Its a year long project “to explore some of the ways that our minds and bodies, our homes and communities, our work and leisure time, and people and our planet could be affected by new science and technology in the future. We will be asking people to talk about the future with each other and tell us their hopes and concerns about the way science and technology could affect our lives.” It has an animated, interactive on-line component but it’s more of a structured dialogue than a free flowing brainstorming session. Also, all the stories sort of make me laugh, look up George and his jogging cap (GPS). It might end up telling people more about what their government thinks about them, then what they think about the future of technology. As an aside Earth:2025 is also an interactive webgame and Columbia’s Earth Center developed a map predicting the worlds population change in 2025.
This BBC article on the future of mobile phones in Europe is interesting because it talks about technologies that are used in Japan and the U.S. such as “”buddy finders” that alert you when a friend is in the same area or systems that track your morning run to show you how many kilometres you have covered and how many calories you have burned” and “location-based advertising, mobile blogging, location-based games and services that will allow you to geo-tag photographs with their locations”. The article explains why these services aren’t available in Europe right now and why Europeans will have access to some of them in 2007. What was interesting to me was that these services were available in the U.S., so I did some checking to see who offers them. A Dec.2006 Newsweek article talks about “All Seeing Eyes” and what it means for personal privacy. According to Newsweek, “No nation is farther along than South Korea, where SK Telecom uses the technology to call customers strolling by its Seoul airport lounge, inviting them inside. This beckoning from out of the blue evokes the intimate Ã¢â‚¬Å“awarenessÃ¢â‚¬? of the wireless networks depicted in Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Matrix.Ã¢â‚¬? Cool Matrix images aside, isn’t this more akin to a mesh of real life pop up ads and someone wearing a sandwich board that says ‘eat at joes’ Especially if you lent your phone to your grandmother.
My heart skipped a beat when I read that researchers might have found Homer’s real life Ithaca. The team that found it, first made their claim in the book, Odysseus Unbound. It caused an on-going controversy which helps raise the public’s interest in all facets of study including geography, classics, geology, history, archeology… I can visualize the movie version right now.
The Newseum, the interactive museum of news in Washington D.C., has a map with links to the front pages of newspapers worldwide. Its like browsing a virtual newsstand with bigger print. For example, I found that rents are set to increase by 20% in Sydney Australia. It’s another great place for news junkies to get more information, besides Very Spatial of course.
An interesting article in the BBCl on tracking snow leopards by satellite led me to other interesting sites. You can adopt a cute loggerhead turtle complete with satellite tracker on its head and a google map. “On a North Carolina beach, researchers fix satellite tracking devices on 300-pound loggerhead turtles that come ashore to lay eggs. Learning more about their migrations could help to protect them.” Space Today includes a long list of animal tracking sites including ones for elephants, manatees, whales, swans and fish. NOAA TOPP has near real time tracking. Of course, if you just want your cute overload you can go here.