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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Computerworld New Zealand continues its coverage of Intergraph’s Peter Batty as he speaks in that country as part of a GITA conference. Titled “GIS specialists should complement Google, Microsoft,” it includes some of Batty’s potentially pithy statements:

“for example, mapping the patterns of occurrence of crime in a city, or maintenance of the electrical network” is an area where the specialist companies will still dominate…

I disagree; mapping patterns, that is, putting dots on the map is one of Google et. al.‘s strengths, see for example,, one of the first and most celebrated mashups. Now, if Mr. Batty is speaking of narrowing down what might explain those patterns, GIS is certainly required. Said another way, offerings from the “generalist” companies as the article calls them hit the “what is where” part of geography. GIS can go further into the “why, so what?” parts, with human intervention required, of course.

“We don’t have ‘numerical information systems’ conferences any more.”

Batty’s said that before, highlighting that geospatial is not special. It seems more pithy with entry of Google, Microsoft, Oracle in the game, doesn’t it?

He suggests, however, a variant of the open source advocates’ “many eyeballs” theory; the more people that use the data the greater the chance that inaccuracies will be detected and weeded out.

Here, here! Now, we just need to be able to capture those corrections, check them… Great minds have been mulling this for years, with alas, slow progress.

Standards for geospatial information are in an uncertain state. “We have an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) that has created interoperability standards supported by the existing industry players, but along come Microsoft and Google with their own idea of standards, and we have potential conflict.” There are workarounds, he says; developers are putting “wrappers” around Google’s KML language to accommodate it to OGC, but the long-terms future is still difficult to predict.

Another key point. You’d think Batty might be in a position to encourage these players to implement standards. I’m the first to understand that serving up someone else’s data via open interfaces implies that the data can be used for free, and licensing prevents that (at least one attempt at wrapping Google in a WMS was shut down) but why not use that as a way to bring in money to the distributor (say Google) and the data provider (say DigitalGlobe)? GlobeXplorer already does that!


by Adena Schutzberg on 03/14 at 07:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 13, 2006

OSGeo has posted details of its logo contest - get drawing!

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/13 at 06:59 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Adena recently noted a couple of items which drew interest that she was not expecting—including my 11-word post on the Google Earth 3D view of Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. She also noted some items that did not garner the interest she expected.

I’d like to add to that last point by noting some new stuff coming out that deals with blogs and net-based communities and how they are transforming things like mapping and GIS. Perhaps this is a message we’ve heard before (seeing as how you’re reading this!) but I dunno. Seems like it’s implications still haven’t been fully worked out yet.

So, two books on individual empowerment, one from the right and one from the left. Both are focused on the role of technology and the communities we live in. How’s this for a title: An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths? This is from Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, the popular conservative blog. I think I’ll give it a read because I want to know more about how technology exactly is transforming things like an individual’s access to geospatial information, and self-mapping capabilities without the need for expensive software. I doubt he talks about it exactly like that, but it’s not a stretch is it?

The one from the left is Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (aka Daily Kos). Again I’d like to give this one a read to see how this empowerment can take place.

Finally, my colleague John Krygier just organised 3 sessions at the AAG on “Post-Cartographic Map Design” which struggles with some of these new mapping possibilities afforded by map mashups, map art, locative technologies etc etc (we really need some kind of name for all this!). According to John:

Post-cartographic map design research and mapping seeks to expand the way we think about, design, and create maps in our map immersed society

John rejects the standard view of mapping as a process of factually representing the landscape for a more active and creative process. It makes me wonder about all the ways new technologies such as blogs, open source GIS etc etc are transforming GIS and mapping today?

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/13 at 06:14 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I ran into the color blindness issue in my first job. We were preparing maps for my boss to use in our work during the Exxon Valdez spill. One of my colleagues noted my color choice for symbols and said, “Stay away from those, Paul is color-blind.” We carefully redid maps and charts to colors he could see and I didn’t think about it much until I ran into Cynthia Brewer’s ColorBrewer tool. She also wrote a great book for ESRI press on basic cartograph for GIS folks. (Oh, and yes, she’s a professor at Penn State.)

Which brings us to EyePilot, a new app from a defense contractor here in Boston, that adds a sort of “color tuner” to a computer screen. It allows those with colorblindness to, among other things, tune the colors to something they can see. It runs $34. While interesting, some say they’d not use it much. On the other hand, such a device may enable those who are colorblind to head into jobs currently unavailable to them: electricians and pilots.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/13 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Peter Batty, Intergraph CTO, said at least the beginning part (I added the “or die” part) in his keynote at GITA New Zealand this week. I for one am jazzed that Stuff even covered the event, though oddly, the article does not even mention the conference name.

He endorsed ideas many in the press have noted:

GIS products from established vendors now offer more than most users need. Many customers will opt for cheaper alternatives such as Google Earth and Microsoft’s MSN Virtual Earth.

“It’s really hard for people to justify buying a major GIS. They want something that solves a business problem that happens to have GIS.”

GIS companies should see these problems as opportunities rather than threats.

Request to Intergraph: encourage Mr. Batty to start a blog. I’d read it and I suspect others would, too.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/13 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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