You have a week to vote on your favorite Platial or Frappr Map for the 2007 Map Awards. The winner will get to go to Where 2.0 in Burlingame in May this year. Definitely a great idea. Now I have to figure out who I am going to vote fore before January 15th. Check out the rules at Platial.com
DataPortability announced today that Google, Facebook, and Plaxo have joined the DataPortability Workgroup on creating open standards for social networking data. DataPortability’s mission is ” To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community.” In the world of social networking, the big players like Facebook and Google currently have proprietary and competing data formats and standards, and there are no easy solutions to integrating information from various platforms. DataPortability is essentially a group that is advocating the adoption of various open standards that are often used in social networking/Web 2.0 applications, such as RSS, so that data from these sites can be taken by the users themselves and reused elsewhere or can be exchanged and enhanced. This announcement follows on the heels of the Robert Scoble/Facebook data tussle, where Scoble downloaded some data about his Facebook friends and Facebook blocked his account. After much furor, Scoble’s account was reinstated, and Chris Saad from the DataPortability Workgroup issued the open invitation for Facebook to join, which they have now accepted. Other members of the group include Yahoo, MySpace, and the BBC.
Of course, the privacy issues are always a challenge, but the issue of ownership of one’s own data that is contributed to sites like Facebook and the value of such data continues to be debated and a proactive approach to opening up these datasets could have a really huge impact on social networking and the Web, if the big boys follow through.
Students and faculty at 3 leading US business schools, Duke (Fuqua), Harvard, and Dartmouth, have launched a site called MapEcos, which utilizes the Google Maps-based Mapmundi Mapping Platform interface to map data that are regularly collected on air quality and chemical emissions from more than 20,000 industrial sites in the US. While the map entries show what and how much industrial sites are releasing, the project is focused on telling both sides of the story, especially companies and sites are have not only reduced the amount of their emissions, but also reduced the levels of toxicity. Air quality is a crucial environmental issues, and tools like MapEcos can help show what works and what doesn’t in terms of reducing industrial pollution, and also help raise awareness about how industries in our own backyards are impacting the environment.
Fairly old news, but I was just adding some widgets to my Chumby and found that someone has finally made a Yahoo! Maps widget. Since the Chumby runs Flash-based widgets it was to be expected Yahoo! would be the first to show up. I am still hoping that Loki will decide to build a widget for the Chumby for the location-based goodness
Google has added a few new features to its Google Maps application (funny how Google Local never really caught on, isn’t it?). One, they’ve added the ability to edit markers, which we mentioned in the past. Two, they’ve added a new “street view” function for some urban areas that’s worth a look see. I checked out Pittsburgh, which I know best, and it was pretty neat to see 360 degrees around from a point. Finally and possibly nearest to my day job, they’ve added a “terrain view” button on their maps. Click it and you’ll see hillshade terrain for an area. We zoomed in to West Virginia and took a look around. The data there is remarkably similar to the 3m DEM product that was done in West Virginia last year and is available for free download. If it is, I can’t help but notice there’s no credit for WV… Still, even with that nitpick, the addition of terrain and street view is pretty cool, even leading at least one commentator to wonder if Google Earth is on it’s way out!
Here’s a perfect idea that should have happened long ago. Google is rolling out an interactive application for gas pumps to allow travelers to search maps and print them out at the pump. Want to know where the closest hotel or pizza joint is located while you’re filling up? No problem, the interactive map will help you find it. Apparently some functionality is missing in that you can’t search for a specific address, which is too bad. I’ll bet they’ll roll that out in the near future, however.
Working on the notion that showing people is often the best way to influence their behavior, the Haringy Council in the UK is providing an online Interactive Heat Loss Map. The idea is to let residents see their own homes’ heat loss and work on insulating their properties better, but the map also lets everyone see how their neighbors’ houses stack up.
Thermal imagery is used in various applications here in the US, and the companies who acquired the Haringy data have done a number of other projects, but I couldn’t seem to find a similar application where the data were made freely available online.
OK, now I know there are a lot of sites out there that map hotel and lodging information for trip planning, but I just had to do a quick post (while we’re packing up our lab for the move) about TvTrip, a European travel site that not only maps hotels in several major cities in Europe, but also offers you the opportunity to watch videos of the hotels. It also has a cool slider bar for you to set your price range. It’s actually a pretty cool idea and, if other sites haven’t picked up on the idea, I’m sure they will be soon. All I do know is, the movers are coming to get our computers and desks to move to our new building on Monday, and I have spent half the afternoon watching videos of hotels in Berlin and Madrid. Oh well. TvTrip only seems to have 5 cities right now: London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, and Berlin, but if you’re traveling to any of those cities, you might want to check it out.
The online version of the latest issue (July/August 2007) of Technology Review has a fairly comprehensive article by Wade Roush about Second Life, virtual globes, social mapping, and the prospects for merging geospatial technologies and virtual world to create a Second Earth. None of the topics is especially new, but Roush does a good job of providing an overview of the various technologies and players. The main focus of the article, though, is to discuss the possibility of a Second Earth or metaverse and how that might come about. Roush starts off with the most obvious possibility, combining Second Life and Google Earth, but notes that both Google Earth and Linden Labs deny they are working on it. All in all, the article offers a nice synthesis of what’s going on in relation to the development of the metaverse and the convergence with geospatial technologies, and some intriguing possibilities for the next step.