Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Digital ghost towns

Issues with Google's maps are aplenty, as Peter Batty, James Fee and others piped up amidst flurry of crowd-sourcing and free-sourcing etc. In quiet rural Northwest of England, however, Argleton appears to be an enigma - not only is that non-existant locality posted by some web streetmaps, but also searching can post images and businesses nearby - truly a digital ghost town! Having just compared various street maps in my home town, I did the same in the British postcode area: L39 5.

(also on my Youtube channel)

Lo and behold! some maps show that ghost town and others don't, which may reflect the data source as suggested in the blogs mentionned above. The second last slide in the video, however, shows the intriguing fact that this location sits in a postcode 'hole': mapping the postcode centroids in the surrounding area, shows Argleton 'snap dab in the middle' of an area void of postcode centroids; the last slide in the video shows, moreover, a map with an empty triangle between adjacent postcodes polygons...

Napoleon said “major battles will happen at the edges maps”, what would he think of such a 'triple junction' or 'empty quarter'? Perhaps as some have suggested this is a bogus data point meant to catch unlicensed geodata usage? Was such a site then chosen purposefully outside postcode boundaries, if indeed those boundaries are correct? Or does this highlight issues in maintaining a database of 1.8M area codes? Last but not least, the sixth slide in said video found the sound-alike, Appleton, more intriguing still in this geo-conundrum!

Jane Austen said in Emma (Vol. 1, Ch. 2): “Why should I understand that, or anything else?” asked the girl. “Don’t bother my head by asking conundrums, I beg of you. Just let me discover myself in my own way.”

(released under Wiki Commons, left and right)