Digital Geography in a Web 2.0 World

I went along today to an excellent showcase of the academic worlds take on Web 2.0 approaches and neogeography. Organised by the team at CASA at UCL the event attracted a large crowd for a one day event to London’s Barbican Centre. Although I was only able to attend the afternoon the presentations I attended were all excellent and I got similar feedback speaking to others who had attended the whole day.

Visually the day was very well produced, it’s amazing how far we have come in just the last few years in our ability to visualise geospatial data, and interact with it both in the lab and in the field.

A key point for me and something that I feel hugely proud of, was the number of times Googles tools were not only mentioned but also demonstrated used in the way we hoped they would be, as a way of people communicating their own work to a wider audience.

Google Earth, Maps, Sketchup etc don’t compete with the full functionality professional GIS or Architectural design packages, but they do allow anyone to create new information easily and importantly for this audience, easily communicate results of analysis to a global audience.

I was also pleased to see that the importance of developing a community of users who contribute information and ideas was also highlighted as an important success factor, indeed there was much evidence of collaboration between different universities departments, something that was rare in my day as an academic.

Andy Hudson-Smith has produced an excellent full colour booklet in parallel with the event which I recommend taking a look at, I’m sure he will is due course make it available via his blog.

Overall I was very impressed by the work presented, not quite a Scoble cry inducing event, but very motivating!

BTW If anybody find a pair of Nike trainers in Second Life, Andy is looking for them !

Written and Submitted from the Holiday Inn, Nottingham using my 3 3G usb modem.

Zillow move should allow other small scale experiments

Last weeks announcement on the Zillow blog that is was releasing its neighbourhood boundary data to the community in Shapefile format is the story of the year so far… (ok so we are only a few weeks in… but this is important)

Zillow is the US Real Estate web site that uses much web 2.0 goodness to actually carry out simple analysis of the housing market, a largely geographical phenomena of course, and allows the user to produce simple hotspot maps of the relative activities in house prices in different neighbourhoods, amongst other things.

This is where the Open Source boundary data comes in… the best people to help define and keep the neighbour boundary data “up to date” are the people themselves, and as the OpenStreetMap guys have found there is a growing community of people willing to do so.

I would be really interested to see how peoples perception of their neighbourhood compares with the “official” data, there is of course much folk-law as to the practices of Estates Agents in London calling Battersea an a rough area when I grew up “South Chelsea”, of course it is gentrified now…

We are only just developing the tools which allow users to express their own sense of place, this is an exciting first step in many ways, and will no doubt point the way to more collaborative mapping applications.

Again ,of course, this raises the question as to other data sets which could be maintained by the community in such a manner, the completeness of OpenStreetMap in the UK (shields up) could be improved overnight if data could be open sourced in this way as it has in the Netherlands for example.

The OS spends relatively little keeping its small scale business geographics data products such as strategi maintained, and it returns similarly modest revenues… worth a small-scale experiment perhaps ?

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

Auntie does mash-ups too now!

BBC Radio 4BBC Radio 4 is often seen as a pillar of the establishment in the UK, although I don’t think it has even justified the label, is was on Radio 4 after-all that Andrew Gilligan made he famous acquisition that the Government were spinning information to make the case for the Second Gulf War.

One of their shows iPM has gone all web2.0 and relies heavily on user contributed material submitted via email and blogs, and are now in the process of building a Mash-up of their listeners.

A nice simple idea and a great way to illustrate the value of mapping api sites to a different audience, seems a long time since the UK Mash-up day and OS Openspace which if you remember a year ago was seen as rather too radical !!

Written and Submitted from the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Manama, Bahrain, using its wired broadband network.

The Bubble video

Along with all the other blogs.. here is the Bubble video by SF band the Richter Scales.

Funny but not enough to make Diet Coke come out of my nose… Guess you need to be in the video or at least in the video to really appreciate it.

Written and Submitted from the Google Office, London.