IBM has a cool project now in beta called Many Eyes, which was developed by their Collaborative User Experience‘s Visual Communication Lab. Many Eyes is a set of visualization tools and web services that allow users to create and share visualization projects, with the goal of creating a collaborative social networking space for exploring and analyzing visualizations. In order to participate in Many Eyes, you upload your data sets (which are then hosted by IBM), create the visualizations and then let others view and comment on them. All you need is a table of data values, and if you don’t have your own set, you can use some of the freely available data already out their on the Internet. The visualization options include maps, graphs, charts and histograms, and even tag clouds. These are tools that those of us with statistical software packages can get access to any time, but the goal of Many Eyes is to host the visualizations so that others can share in and comment on your research.
You can even share your visualizations by embedding live interactive versions in your own site or blog, like the example I have below. One note, however: you can’t host the visualizations or data sets on your site.
I have started taking a tour of some of the location based social apps that are out there since I haven’t had time to write code myself. The first one have been playing with is brightkite.com which can act as a stand alone web app, a location feed for Twitter and works with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle. A quick example of a BrightKite map is here which is a checkin I did from PA. The location information from an account is shown through a list or map of visited places and you can create a series of shortcuts to different Placemarks for quick updating. There is the general friends settings so that you can follow others and of course you can find folks based on location. As with most of these apps you can access it via web or SMS. Check it out if you can get an invite.
The folks over at the Official Google Maps API Blog have provided links to the YouTube versions of each of the seven the Google Geo Developer series. If you are a fan of the KML or Google API then check them out and enjoy the free learnin’.
Just coming off a session where we were talking about how user generated content can offer great advantages to local communities it was interesting to read this article which talks about a new wiki map called WikiCrimes that allows users to report crimes and their location in Brazil. Apparently the Brazilian police do not provide access to crime data, plus there seems to be an underrepresentation of crime as people do not always report crimes. Given these issues there still seems to be some apathy about the mapping initiative not only from the police (which is expected) but also by some of the public. The BBC’s article is definitely worth a read to see an interesting take on public mapping.
Google has put up an interactive Google Map where you can share Earth events and ideas with people around the world. It’s a fairly basic site, but there are some neat stuff people are planning to do. For instance in Very Spatial’s own home turf, people are planning on doing more composting. What’s going on in your area for Earth Day?
The Surui people, who have been so remote in the Brazilian forests that they were only ‘discovered’ in 1969, have turned to the high tech tools of Google Earth to help them protect their existence. Initial contacts with outsiders led them to fight, but bows and arrows proved rather useless compared to modern weapons. Since then, they have negotiated a peace, but their lands are continuously encroached upon. Enter Google Earth, which the tribe uses to monitor treaty breaking moves by logging companies. The whole story is a testament to how far web mapping has spread into our modern (and sometimes ancient) lives.
As geographers, I know everyone out there is thinking, “I get the the home buying industry in the US is imploding like a black hole, but I still am having trouble understanding what’s going on.” Fear not dear reader, the wonderful people at the Federal Reserve have given us – Dynamic Maps of Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the United States! Now you can browse the mortgage meltdown in map form. All of the maps are color ramps with a few layers of reference data to help you find your way. You can search by zip code as well. My only issue with the maps themselves lies with the fact that it’s hard to see a lot of the graduations in the ramps, especially for themes with lower absolute numbers.
I am feverishly working to get my dissertation proposal finished, and while reading Hamlet on the Holodeck (a great book, by the way), I jumped online to look a couple of things up and stumbled across the Atlas of Early Printing. It’s project done by the University of Iowa’s Libraries, and offers a nice Flash-based web map application that gives a geographic perspective on the first half-century of printing in Europe (1450-1500). The map layers include the spread of printing, and the locations of universities, paper mills, and fairs. Other resources related to the atlas include an animated 3D model of an early printing press. There’s also a nice slider feature that allows you to animate the layers chronologically to get a more dynamic picture of how printing spread. I whiled away a good half hour just checking out some of the points in the atlas, and there’s lots more great information on the site.
While looking for some sample GIS data for a demo, I ran into the US Atlas of Renewable Resources, a project of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The atlas (which is still under development) includes a web mapping interface that show the geographic distribution of wind, biomass, geothermal and solar resources, and the NREL site also has data available for download. The Atlas of Renewable Energy is one of several GIS projects and data sets available from NREL, so if you are interested in mapping or GIS analysis related to renewable energy sources here in the US, it’s a good place to start.