NPR Laments the Death of Paper Road Maps

Paper road maps are becoming obsolete, claims a NPR report. Well, not completely obsolete, but less and less used by daily drivers as GPS and SatNav have taken over. A spokesperson for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials believes map printing may be one place state transportation departments cut to ease budgetary issues. Apparently Washington state got rid of printing them complete in 2009! I understand the view completely as technological has taken over. That being said, even this techno-gadget junkie will miss the days the paper map. There’s something to be said for a product you can toss in the back, or stick in your back pocket, or fold over the wrong way, or write all over willy-nilly because you don’t care what happens to it. Oh paper road map your dad yelled at you for ‘folding it wrong’, how you will be missed!

Lego, Australia, and Build with Chrome

There’s a good 124 (ish) reasons I love this site – Building with Chrome and Lego. The most important are because it’s Lego and a Map. The basic premise is you can grab a plot of land and ‘build’ your lego construct virtually on that plot of land. It can be a house or an abstract sculpture or pretty much anything you can envision in Lego (except those weird Lego Bonicle things my nephew lovs so much). It is also great to see Google really pushing the envelope of what’s possible with Chrome and HTML 5. More ‘food for thought’ is a great thing for near future HTML 5 work that anyone involved in web stuff is going to have to embrace. My only real problem with the site is that even though it is tied to space, it is a space most people won’t know. The constructs are unlikely to represent Australian in any meaningful way. But hey, you can’t have everything!

Now if Lego would just move the experiment a tad South East and render all their Lord of The Rings Lego, we could recreate the movies in Lego on the map. Maybe that’s just too much awesome for one app 🙂

The Most Popular Street Names in the US

Cars and geography go hand in hand if you ask me. After all, transportation is one of our fundamental layers in GIS, right? So Jalopnik’s post detailing the most popular street names in the US really struck my interest. I guess its no surprise that numbers are the most popular names, nor that trees are second. Personally, I wonder the popularity of tree names in areas compared to the trees they grow. Do more cities in, say, the pacific NW like ‘Pine Street’ than the middle states? I’d also bet there’s a lot of spatial clustering of names so that the numbers and trees tend to group together. Its pretty interesting that most polls show Abraham Lincoln as the most popular US President, yet George Washington gets all the street names.

Climate Models Ignored by Media

Ars Technica is reporting an interesting article for science, I think. Researchers at George Mason University have looked at climate reporting in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today between 1998 and 2010 to see how often climate change models are referenced. The answer? A depressingly few number of times – 100 out of 4,000. Why does it matter? Well, how can anyone really understand the conclusions without at least understanding some of the methodology that went into the conclusion? Without understanding the utility of models in general and climate change models in particular, it is all too easy to cast aside climate change as junky science.

If you ask me, irrespective of the climate change debate, I fear we don’t do enough to explain the science behind the conclusions, particularly with highly politically charged issues like climate change. It seems a bit disingenuous to me that we would present one argument without explaining the logic behind it. It is then up to the reader to decide which argument makes more sense to them. At the very least, we potentially raise scientific knowledge among the general population, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Son Finds Long Lost Family Via Google Earth

As GIS people, we know we do awesome stuff everyday. However, this may ratchet up the awesome to 11… or maybe 12. A Indian man who had been adopted by an Australian family has found his long lost family via Google Earth. That brief summation doesn’t do the story justice and there isn’t much I can add here besides this – go read it. It’ll make your GIS heart proud.

Oh, and technology is AWESOME!

World Bank Joins Open Data Movement

The World Bank has announced it will be joining the open data movement as of July 1st. All of its research and associated data will be found on a portal called the Open Knowledge Repository. Right now the repository holds a couple thousand of their book and publications for free download. By July 1st, the data is supposed to show up as well. There’s no word if any of the data will be specifically geospatial, but as we all know, it is pretty easy to take spreadsheet data and import it. The World Bank has had a fairly controversial history. Hopefully the movement toward open data will allow more eyes on their activity, whether it’s to critique or support.