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Visual Trace Route – I’m 42 hops from Google
|| 4/21/2008 || 6:00 pm || Comments Off on Visual Trace Route – I’m 42 hops from Google || ||

Visual Trace Route Tool Screen Grab

For nearly four years (May 2004 to March 2008) this website was a digital experiment how people find content on the internet. By withholding the contents of this website from search engines I was able to create my own digital island that could be found only by those who knew me or when I would selectively release specific content. Last month, exactly one year after an internationally syndicated article was published about me and my website, I concluded the experiment by lifting the electronic Berlin Wall that prevented search engines from accessing the content on this website. For the last month or so, I’ve begun to watch how people are able to find my content through search engines, and frankly its been nothing short of amazing. In the not-so-distant future I will have a more detailed pre & post search engine analysis posted here.

While this website was unlisted and before the article was published, I used to look at my website IP logs every morning. I would manually trace the IP addresses of every visitor to this website and obtain a decent guesstimate of how the person found my website. This IP analysis would give the location and hosting provider of the visitor, but what it did not give is the digital path that my content traveled.

Data does not travel through the internet in a geographic path of least resistance (like as the crow flies), rather data bounces around the world from server to router to user in a path that can go in multiple directions and routed through multiple servers before finally reaching your computer. A trace route is a means to see what servers the content passes through before reaching you. By clicking on the image above you can explore how content travels to your computer using the Google Maps interface to see exactly where the content travels. For example, data from www.Google.com makes 42 unique hops before finally reaching my computer. A fun experiment would be to trace how content from this website arrives on your computer screen.

Watching the route trace itself looks much like a sped up version of “The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming,” which is a cartographically interactive story told through the Google Maps interface. Each stop becomes a new chapter in the information’s delivery. How many stops did this blog entry take to get to you?

Related GIS:

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Geovisual QR Code
|| 4/12/2008 || 5:42 pm || Comments Off on Geovisual QR Code || ||

: saved at 6,000 x 6,000 :
Geovisual QR Code by Nikolas Schiller

QR Code is a two-dimensional bar code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The “QR” is stands for “Quick Response,” and it operates very similar to traditional bar codes, but allows for more customization. QR Codes are common in Japan where they are currently the most popular type of two dimensional code. In recent weeks I’ve read about some very interesting uses of the code and decided to make something with it.

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National MSM of the American Indian on Google Maps; Why truncate the word Museum?
|| 3/31/2008 || 1:55 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Last night I was using Google Maps and discovered that the label for the National Museum of the American Indian has been truncated to be “National MSM of the American Indian.” This raised alarm because the shorthand for MSM is more recognized as “MainStream Media” not museum. Native Americans have been shortchanged for hundreds of years by the American government, and I found it downright rude that the museum’s name has been cartographically shortchanged as well. So why shorten the name?

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Do X in Dildo [a historical linguistic anamoly from 1932]
|| 3/24/2008 || 3:59 pm || Comments Off on Do X in Dildo [a historical linguistic anamoly from 1932] || ||

Present day english could describe “Do X in Dildo” as some odd porno rave, but according to page 181 of Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador By Gerhard P. Bassler, Do X in Dildo has a completely different meaning:

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The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming – A story told through Google Maps
|| 3/21/2008 || 2:57 pm || Comments Off on The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming – A story told through Google Maps || ||

The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming is an interactive story that is told through the use of Google Maps. Readers can watch & navigate the story as it unfolds across a map of the world. About six months ago I tried making a Choose Your Own Adventure story using Google Maps, but I ultimately gave up because I didn’t want to code it all! I look forward to reading this story, and more importantly, seeing how people are able to further mash-up this concept of taking a work of fiction (or non-fiction) and putting it on a map. [via Metafilter]



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


Embedded Google Maps
|| 8/22/2007 || 9:20 am || Comments Off on Embedded Google Maps || ||


View Larger Map of the Los Angeles Interchanges Series

Ever since Google Maps became available and I created my first mash-up, I’ve been trying to get the maps to display properly in my blog. It’s currently why the two mash-ups of America & DC sit outside the confines of this WordPress blog. But not anymore! As you can see above, I can easily add Google Maps anywhere on my blog! In the near future I am probably going to redo these two mash-ups and port them back into the confines of this blog. I know it’s going to take awhile to do this task, and I am not looking forward to it.


==UPDATE==
There is one critical flaw in the Embedded Google Maps I’ve noticed so far. And it’s kinda problematic…. When clicking on the images within the information window, instead of loading a new webpage, they load within the area that map was embedded. Thus the links to their respective blog entries are pretty much useless…. hmmm…


==UPDATE==
It’s been fixed



A new change in Washington, DC’s imagery on Google’s servers
|| 7/10/2007 || 9:42 am || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

For the last 3 years I have followed how the aerial & satellite imagery of Washington, DC has been released, redacted, and remixed. This entry marks another important observation and a new discovery in Google Maps.

Last week I discovered the extent to which Google has updated their servers with the 2005 USGS aerial photography. My findings suggest that Google has censored much of downtown Washington, DC by not using a substanial amount of newer imagery.

Continue reading:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!