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Flight & Expulsion – An Interactive Flash Map by Christian Behrens
|| 3/22/2008 || 7:46 pm || Comments Off on Flight & Expulsion – An Interactive Flash Map by Christian Behrens || ||

Every year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issues a report concerning the number of approximately 21,000,000 people worldwide falling under its mandate: as refugees who were forced to leave their countries due to war, political, racial or religious persecution, as internally displaced persons, or as repatriates on their way back home.

This interactive visualization attempts to give an insight into the phenomenon of global flight and expulsion, based on the annual UNHCR statistics between the years of 1995 and 2004.

Last year Christian Behrens, a new media designer based in Berlin made this interactive Flash map. While I *really* like the map’s concept, coding, and visualization method, I have some issues with the cartographic layout. Specifically, it’s hard to accurately locate some countries with my mouse and since there is no scaling on the text or basemap, its hard to find countries that are typographically overlapping. Moreover, the country’s dot is the only hotspot that triggers the UNHCR data, so if you are hovering over the words, you are literally missing the point. For example, I wanted to find the Gaza Strip and realized the point where my mouse is located is not on Gaza. This also happened with Sri Lanka, whereas the dot is over water. Just south of Sri Lanka, not far from the Maldives. My favorite country on the map is Stateless (below). With that aside, I found this map to be very informative.

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The National Gruntledness Index
|| 3/21/2008 || 10:48 am || Comments Off on The National Gruntledness Index || ||

This map of the United States is Careerbuilder’s “definitive measure of career happiness.” While I think the map’s concept is cute, the means in which the colors are displayed make the map more comical than helpful. My screen grab above is a static picture but on the website the map is slightly animated which creates these bands of ‘gruntledness’ that are impossible (look at West Virginia’s colored band uniting with Ohio). Yet if you ignore this aspect, the point of the map becomes evident; it’s simply a promotional tool to bring people to Career Builder’s website. Maybe it’s time I start looking for a 9 to 5 job– it’s been about two years since I’ve been in an office.

Related Found Maps:

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Pentagon Bans Google Map-Makers
|| 3/17/2008 || 2:01 pm || Comments Off on Pentagon Bans Google Map-Makers || ||

What a poorly written lead by the BBC. It should say something like “Pentagon Bans Google Street View from Military Bases.” Saying “Google map-makers” are banned implies that people who use the service of Google Maps are also banned. But that is not the case; I can zoom into many military bases, but what I cannot do, and the point of the story, is to use the Street View feature within a military base.

Of course they shouldn’t be making a Streetview dataset of any military bases in the first place. Call this a very stupid mistake on behalf of Google. How is this helpful? Knowing where the F-14’s are housed is not information that can be used by the general public. Just like I don’t need to know how DC’s steam pipe network is laid out (a dataset that is withheld from the public last time I checked). Basically, its one thing to do Street View on public streets in innocuous cities, but its an entirely different story when they map out the inside of a military base.

I’ve had quite a few military personnel visit my Street View Improvised Explosive Device animation since I put it on-line last year in June (it was created about a week after Street View was released to the public). I would like to believe that the military is aware of how people can exploit Street View, but nearly 9 months later it doesn’t look like some of the military brass has taken any warnings seriously.

Also, I truly wonder if and when Google will release Street View for Washington, DC. With Google and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency already censoring downtown DC, I doubt that they would release DC’s Streetview imagery without some significant modifications (aka redactions). However, if Google does release DC Street View I already know exactly where I plan on making the next digital IED…. [you will just have to wait & see]

Street View Improvised Explosive Device


the wildlife of an idea
|| 3/16/2008 || 4:47 pm || Comments Off on the wildlife of an idea || ||


[Youtube Link]

French creative agency, Callegari Berville Grey, took a popular viral video of African water buffaloes valiantly defending a newborn calf from lions & a crocodile and anthropomorphically reassigned the roles of nature to that of an idea in our modern workplace.

The final and overarching message is that we should all struggle for our ideas- whatever they are. Like a raisin in the sun whose seeds have found their way to moist soil, ideas and their subsequent dissemination face many perils along the way from conception to execution.

Related YouTube Entries:

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Digital Globe: Where did DC’s roads go?
|| 3/5/2008 || 12:27 pm || Comments Off on Digital Globe: Where did DC’s roads go? || ||


Digital Globe's Image Browser

Screen grab featuring DC with very few roads

I was looking at Digital Globe’s website the other day and I decided to zoom into Washington, DC. The result was a map that only shows the major highways around the area. What is missing, however, are all the roads in DC, even the ones that connect to the “major highways” outside of the District. While the roads are not really needed to find locations of imagery, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a good example of how an on-line mapping environments can leave out a lot more content than what should be included. Since this map environment was designed to seek Digital Globe’s imagery, not highways, it would make more sense that the base layer shows archive satellite imagery and not ugly vector graphics that incompletely show the major transportation routes in DC.

Notice:
– Two different city centers: Washington + Washington, DC
– In the margin map, the star next to Columbia is not District of Columbia, but South Carolina
– In the margin map, all cities are capitals as well
Gallaudet University is the only university shown



Getting to know Mr. SID
|| 1/7/2008 || 3:13 pm || Comments Off on Getting to know Mr. SID || ||

Screen grab from the Library of Congress which DOES NOT list Graphic Converter as an option…. yet?

For the last few years I’ve found the file format Mr. SID to be the bane of my cartographic explorations. When I’d see a map available in the MultiResolution Seamless Image Database format, it meant I’d have to keep looking for other maps. Conversion of the Mr.SID format on a Macintosh had kept the maps locked away in an obscure file format; smiting me.

In my opinion, one of the worst decisions that the Library of Congress made was the choice to use the Mr.SID file format for their on-line maps. First off, its a proprietary compression algorithm patented by a company that is motivated by profit, not by the intent of furthering academic research. This means that any software maker originally had to get a license (pay) to use it. This resulted in only a few programs being written that can convert the file type. Worse is that there are even fewer Macintosh-based programs that can convert these files. The patent owner’s website offers only one Macintosh product and does not allow the rendering of the map at it’s full size. As in, I could only export sections of the original map, which makes the reader useless. Secondly, the file type is in itself “an American Memory,” because its not widely used anymore. It made sense to use it originally- it saved server space because of the high compression algorithm, but now server space is relatively cheap. Today only people who use high-end GIS software use Mr.SID formated imagery, and since most of this software only exists on PCs, there has been little cross platform support. Lastly, for any maps to be used by an image editing program, the map must first be converted out of the Mr.SID format and converted into another filetype (.jpg, tiff, etc.). This means that for every map that is available on the Library of Congress website, I have to spend 15 minutes converting it to a useful format.

Over the weekend I discovered that there is *one* program for Macintosh that can convert this file type: Graphic Converter. I also discovered that the newsest version (the Universal Binary, which I downloaded last summer) did not handle Mr.SID. Instead, I had to download an obsolete version (Graphic Converter for PowerPC) to convert this arcane format! So for the last 7 months I had been unable to convert any Mr.SID formatted map, but now I can, and I’m very excited about the new possibilities this opens up (literally hundreds of maps are now within virtual reach! The Library is only a few blocks away, but the digitalization is just as important.).

I sincerely hope the Library of Congress updates the page above to list Graphic Converter as one of the programs that can convert Mr.SID formatted maps. This software program is already listed for use with other media on the same Library of Congress webpage. Also of note, is that Graphic Converter can also convert JPEG2000 encoded maps.



Wal-Art…
|| 6/14/2007 || 8:39 am || Comments Off on Wal-Art… || ||

Lenny Campallo of DC Art News posted his praise for a Wal-Mart heir who is buying some very expensive art. After reading this Newsweek article and knowing someone from Bentonville, I sent him a reply:

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Voting Rights March Recap
|| 4/17/2007 || 10:44 am || Comments Off on Voting Rights March Recap || ||

Read my recap, watch a video, & view the rest of the pictures I’ve obtained after the fold…

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America Supports You, “Freedom Walk”
|| 9/11/2005 || 7:17 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Today Angela & I took part in the America Supports You “Freedom Walk,” and I must say that we definitely celebrated our freedom….

read my account:

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Baghdad Imagery change in Google Earth
|| 8/16/2005 || 6:02 pm || Comments Off on Baghdad Imagery change in Google Earth || ||

I heard about this news last week…
Via NBC

Troops Worried About Popular Google Feature
Soldiers Worry About Insurgents Using Information

POSTED: 9:48 pm PDT August 11, 2005
UPDATED: 9:58 pm PDT August 11, 2005

SAN DIEGO — A popular new feature on Google’s Web site has troops in Iraq upset, NBC 7/39 reported on Thursday.

The “Google Earth Program” has satellite maps from around the globe, where people can zoom in on their houses — or a military base in Iraq.

The pictures are a year old, but troops say many things have not changed, such as aircraft that are in the same locations.

The program can show people the latitude and longitude of any spot. Troops said they fear insurgents can use all of the information to aim mortar rounds.

A local retired Marine said he does see some risk in the site.

“Clever and devious people can come up with any number of ways to use this and keep themselves out of harm’s way while doing significant damage to U.S. forces or any of the coalition,” said retired Lt. Col. Thomas Richards.

Google said the images are all publicly available; the program just puts them in one place.

Last night I decided to do some “research” and found that Google has actually changed their imagery in Baghdad, Iraq. I know this because when Google Earth came out I visited Baghdad and it had the same Digital Globe imagery that I downloaded to make some of my Baghdad renderings with. Look at the imagery below. Notice at big hole around downtown Baghdad? That contains the Greenzone as well as most of the important buildings in the Iraqi government.

It looks like Google has taken some heat and put in some older imagery… I don’t know for sure if it’s older or not, but I’ll have to check. If I remember correctly, I downloaded some pre-illegal-invasion imagery from Digital Globe, but I’ll have to check…

Related Censorship Entries:

Related Google Earth Entries:





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