Ran across this interesting post: the best government blogs and why they’re the best. With the exception of NASA, none of these have a direct geospatial tie. In fact, all but one of them are CIO’s of their respective organizations. It sorta makes sense it would start there, but I’d like to challenge anybody in local, state, or federal government who has any stake in geospatial information to start blogging. The points on what makes each of these blogs work are excellent starting points to use in your own blog. I’d love to see more geospatial government blogs out there!
After yesterday’s devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, aid groups and governments from around the world are mobilizing to help out with relief efforts. As Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters have shown, mapping and geospatial technologies can be crucial tools in helping aid workers assess the situation and navigate an unfamiliar and changed landscape, identify and map damage and areas where people are in most need, and many other uses. One of the first geospatial organizations to send a team to Haiti is MapAction, a volunteer group out of the UK with extensive experience in mapping efforts for natural disasters from flooding in Albania and El Salvador to the Sumatra earthquakes back in September. As aid efforts gear up, I’m sure other groups and experts will be called on as well.
Every little bit helps in a disaster like this, so if you can spare anything, many organizations, including MapAction, accept donations to help fund their efforts, and could use every penny right now.
On my twitter feed this morning, @geoparadigm tweeted this great link on tree hugger about Twenty-Two Maps That Will Change How You See The World. The maps are pretty impressive, although I’m not sure it will change how many of us in the geospatial community sees the world. Being tree hugger and all, most of them are environmental in nature. However the thing that most interested me was that the vast majority of the entries are actually interactive maps, not static maps. If you ask me, the fact that these world view changing maps are primarily interactive shows a whole new world in and of itself. Perhaps the greatest change is the need to move from the static to the dynamic in our maps themselves.
Over at the Autodesk It is Alive in the Lab blog they have a good Monday morning post that looks at what an idea is and how it develops. What makes it stand-out is that they set it up as an interview with an idea (Mr. Idea). The anthropomorphizing of a concept is great fun and hopefully opens the door for them to tackle other concepts in a similar fashion down the road.
You may remember Google’s Project 10 to the 100, which invited everyone around the world to submit ideas that “to change the world by helping as many people as possible.” Over 150,000 ideas were submitted by the deadline in October 2008, and between September 24th and October 8th, 2009 (that’s right, voting is open right now), everyone is invited to head to the Project 10 to the 100th website and vote for the finalists that you think are the best. Google is committing $10 million for the winning idea(s) to help implement them, and many of the finalists are certainly projects where geography and geospatial technologies are probably going to be a part of making them happen. After the winning ideas are chosen, Google will be putting out RFPs or other means of soliciting organizations for the implementation phase.
So, head on over to the finalists page, and cast your vote by October 8th!
I saw the iReport on CNN today about Erik Bendl, AKA ‘World Guy’, who has taken one of his favorite pastimes, pushing his giant inflated Earth Ball around the neighborhood for exercise and fun, and is using it raise awareness and money for charity. Currently, he has undertaken a cross-country trek, pushing his Earth Ball, for diabetes awareness. You can follow Erik’s progress at his WorldGuy website or on the WorldGuy Walk for Diabetes Facebook Causes page.
Good luck, WorldGuy!
Although not strictly geography-related, I really wanted to post about the US Library of Congress utilizing YouTube to make digital versions of some of the earliest motion pictures ever recorded available online. The LOC’s collections are amazing historical treasures, and cover a wide variety of topics. You can find out more about the Library of Congress’s holdings at their website. Although many of the videos are also available directly on the LOC website, the YouTube partnership is great because it makes these motion pictures easily searchable by the huge YouTube user base.
I spent a few minutes checking out the LOC’s YouTube channel, and picked out one example, Native American members of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show performing the Sioux Ghost Dance in 1894:
MSNBC has a short news special about our town, Morgantown, WV, as a bright spot in the generally glum economic picture here in the US. The video shows a couple of highlights of the local economy and geography, and while we do still have plenty of local issues to deal with, it was nice to see Morgantown get a little national attention.
The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting article heavily quoting Google Earth’s project head John Hanke, “We’re not the bad guys.” The article goes on to heavily quote Hanke concerning the issue, but the gist of it is that technology is morally neutral. You can use it for good and bad things and it’s up to the end user to dictate the use. We talked about that point quite a bit in this week’s podcast. However, it think it’s pretty clear that nearly any technology can be used for both good and bad purposes. If you deny the good based upon the bad, is the net benefit to the public better or worse? It’s a tricky situation and has to be largely decided on a case by case basis, I think. In the case of geospatial technology, sometimes even on a layer by layer basis. Certainly the debate is interesting and I believe that geospatial professionals should keep it in the forefront in our thinking.