Google Says They’re Not the Bad Guys

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.

NASA Life and Work on the Moon Contest

So Nasa is having a Life and Work on the moon contest for highschool and college students to depict the future moon environment. I think that geospatial technologies won’t be one of the images unless one of you can draw. I was thinking people are going to draw habitats, mining, and other professions people can see but geospatial technologies will be the invisible tool that pulls everything together. I also imagine that geospatial professionals are going to have to do dangerous field work similar to other early explorers in dangerous new terrritory. Probably even more invisible will be the geospatial planners who have to determine political boundaries. In my mind I am picturing all of the scenes from the Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson that is now being made into a sci fi series. What do you imaging life and work on the moon will be like for geospatial professionals?

Krugman Predicts End of US Auto Industry

Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winning economist, has predicted the end of the US auto industry. Although this has been widely reported elsewhere, I think it’s interesting to note the reason Krugman quotes: “It will do so because of the geographical forces that me and my colleagues have discussed…” So if anyone gives you flak for geography, tell’em geography matters. Nobel prize winners say so!

UPDATE – Apparently there was a misquote at Huffington Post, but the geography parts are still important 🙂

Geography Themed Weddings

I love Crafster. It’s a great place to get ideas and see how creative people can be. It’s amazing how much geography can inexpensively personalize a wedding. I liked this 100% DIY Punk Rock Wedding everything in it is cool but especially how they used local street names to label the tables. Several people used travel maps to make cards or save the date invitations incorporating the directions into the design. There is even a naughty bachelor party in a globe. Of course these ideas could be used for anything (except perhaps the bachelor party in a globe) but it just shows how much incorporating geography into gifts and planning could help cut down on the costs for things. I even saw on a another site someone had used social networking and maps as ice-breakers on tables to connect people at a table to each other which helps with the… why did they sit me here hierarchy.

Crazy number

OK, I was just looking at our podcast download numbers for the first time in a while and I was FLOORED by the fact that 21,866 episodes were downloaded in October alone. Now admittedly that is from 561 files covering the weekly mp3 and aac versions, special episodes, and videos (though admittedly mostly the weekly shows), but that is just breath taking on our end. We are ecstatic that you guys are downloading each week and that you like us, or at least are mildly amused by us 🙂

Thanks again for visiting, listening and watching. We have some plans for the new year in terms of the site design and the podcasts, including a live show from both the AAG and ESRI UC, so stay tuned.

A Loo with a View

Plenty of places are talking about the new picture book A Loo with a View by Luke Barclay which features the world’s tops toilet views. What I find most interesting is that 1) He was able to do it in under two years, 2) He’s looking for submissions from other people, 3)he has a history background. I think I was expecting him to be a geography major!

Note: sorry, Barb posted this about a month ago, but it got stuck in the drafts somehow…

MeetWays – Find a place to meet in town

While MeetWays might focus on finding a point of interest between two addresses to help people meet halfway, at this time of year it could offer more. Many of us who are traveling this holiday season will need to stop a few times and MeetWays might be able to help you find a good place. Keep in mind it is much better at looking at smaller areas rather than cross country trips. The interface is fairly straight forward, you enter your origin and destination along with the type of place you want to stop at (e.g. Pizza, Coffee, Bank).

While it is good for finding locations on short or straight path trips, it doesn’t help those of us who follow interstates since it finds the physical halfway point, not the midpoint of a route. My example is that I travel between Morgantown, WV and Kinston, NC. The halfway point for my trip is near Appomatox, VA, and while they offer some great options in the area for my search term of ‘tacos’ these establishments would take me hours out of my way. On the other hand, a search between Morgantown and Clarksburgh, WV for gas, a fairly short and straight trip, gave me good options. Keep in mind that the roads I travel go through mountains and that those of you in flat areas may have better results than I did and that if you break your trip up into shorter segments you may do better.

Europeana – European history and culture goes online

The European Union is in the midst of a project to make over 1000 years of European history, art, and material culture accessible online through a digital library called Europeana. The project was started two years ago, and already over 3 million items have been digitized and are available, with the hope to get 10 million by 2010. That’s probably only a small portion of what the partnering museums, libraries, and other institutions throughout Europe have in their collections, so Europeana is certainly a massive undertaking. It may be partly in response to and a rival of Google’s huge digital library project, but Google’s European spokesperson said that collaboration would be welcomed.

Europeana launched today, and already the site is seeing significant slowdowns from all the traffic so you may not have much luck right away, but I was able to do a search on “maps” and got over 5700 hits, including historic map and plan images, documents relating to maps and mapmaking, photos related to mapmaking, videos, and even audio.