Wednesday 30 December 2009

Webmaps, history, climate and geology

Chatting with local history buffs brought up amazing facts about climate change and sea level rise since the Middle Ages in East Anglia. One book's sketch map relates how the North Sea coastline differed from today, and how that affected Anglo-Saxon socio-economics there before and after the Norman conquest and the Domesday book.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

2D or not 2D, that is the question

Friends went to see Avatar the movie in 3D, while I saw it in 2D. We met to compare and contrast, mostly in regards to how technologies have evolved. My own interest is if immersive technologies will affect mapping and the web, as devices get smaller and smaller from laptops to mobiles

Wednesday 16 December 2009

What is next big thing?

Recent groundbreaking news abounds, and both an exciting and challenging times lie ahead.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

"Who you gonna call?"

"Geo busters!" (apologies Ghost Busters).

Geodata access and availability is the real story behind the flurry of news around UK government freeing up some data, vs. Google collecting it and returning it for free, and many others. And this happens against a backdrop of various SDI (spatial data infrastrucutre) intiatives. I joined a UK government data developers mailing list, to educate myself on the ins-and-outs of data provision at the coal face, so to speak. And RDFa emerges as the way to resolve this - the more metadata one provides within any given dataset, the easier it is to classify and maintain internally, and to discover and distribute externally.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Fun with Maps

I had planned a GIS Day project, but my schedule got way ahead of me, so here it is instead. I twittered a few spatially-related jokes to ask for some more, and I post here its beginnings on my website (click on the image). It combines a feed-back form to send suggestions, and a map to post the country, the joke if it's appropriate, and the author if given.

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.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

A tale of two systems

The last picture in my previous post was in fact a teaser - the basic premise is that with the right technical tools and business plan, an entire system can be assembled today for the cost of just the software of yesterday. So basically a sports car can be had today, for what it cost to just get the chassis a few years ago. How then, you might ask?

Friday 30 October 2009

A tale of two cities

Social mapping is the intersection on web mapping and social networking. I blogged earlier on webmaps and mashups, comparing streetmaps between Urumqi, the site of previous unrest in Xian province of western China, and Almaty in nearby southeast Kazakhstan. A friend who shall remain anonymous said they couldn't reach my Slideshare, so I posted a video of same on a Youtube designated channel. Now that they're safe, I post it again here.

Friday 23 October 2009

A tale of two conferences

I watched online the keynotes of the GEOINT and the FOSS4G shows this week. Aside from their excellent content, I was astounded that they used not one but two references that are similar... The word convergent evolution came to mind, much along the theme in both keynotes! I pulled the key points from the videos last night, and posted the parallel on SlideShare.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Data tennis match

There is a frantic discussion over the UK Government Data Developers mailing list, over freeing UK postcodes, after the recent freeze of their provision to UK aid agencies. As a business user (not a developer) I use free area code data (kilometer precision), and paid my £50 for 1000 points from (meter precision). This doesn't negate the need to call for freeing up data sources, but as business I must be practical and timely.

Friday 16 October 2009

Webmaps for Dummies

I posted earlier a webmap, quickly created to illustrate a point about the 2016 Olympic bid. I parlayed the custom symbology and list files into an internal app to track oilelefant prospects and customers.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Monday 12 October 2009

Crowdsourcing for Dummies

James Fee points out Google's Michael Jones on crowdsourcing in Directions Magazine. But let's not forget the "other" democratisation of the geoweb: the tools and online community to help post geodata of any source you choose.

Thursday 8 October 2009

"East is east and west is west...", or is it?

Geo-meta-data news flashes:
quickly access web resources regardless of resource location via ESRI's geoportal extension
free metadata tools for the EU INPSIRE website using ESRI Irelands Be-Inspired site
quickly add data anywhere in the world, crowdsourcing debut on Google Map Maker
geocode data into the recently increased Google palette in the US at least announced

Sunday 4 October 2009

Time, place and social networks

Last week saw the feverish conclusion of the award of the 2016 Olympic host city. One key factor reported by the Guardian was the following (numbers appear to be from summer and winter Olympics):

Tuesday 29 September 2009

The Joy of (con)Text

It's a common geo-rant (thanks AGI'09) that metadata cause alternatively boredom or angst among geo-geeks - why? because we know our data, our professional audience does too, but our wider audience does not. In other words, if we don't write metadata, no-one else will understand the context later on. I found a clear example, when I mapped Captain Cook's ships logs a while ago, and posted on ArcGIS Online beta:

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Joy of Sets

Set Theory was the first disruptive technology I experienced as a boy - perhaps my web diagram to the right was influenced by that? As it turned out sets made binary thinking cool in the new era of computing, as they did holistic thinking in business management. In earth sciences it helped correct the linear thinking of chronologically evenly spaced events, into that of long periods of quiescence punctuated with bursts of evolution or catastrophic events - and now that we look for asteroids and tsunamis in history, we find them galore.

Friday 25 September 2009


I followed UK's premier GIS meeting hosted this week by AGI in Stratford-upon-Avon UK, on its excellent website and twitter (#geocom and other attendees). You can read there that the debate over FOSS vs. COTS is morphing into GIS vs. neo-geography. But I found the following to be very a-propos for petroleum: Yahoo!Geo Technologies' Gary Gale explains in his blog the importance of a global geographic ontology - that is identifying not only by location, but also by metadata and by topology.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

GIS and autos - Part II

Further comparing two industries, after WWII the US interstate highways created a transportation backbone originally lobbied for by the auto industry. It greatest beneficiary however was the trucking industry, which acquired a ready-made and tax-paid road network. From individual truckers to unionised haulers, it changed the face of many industries, such as the transporation of food and the delivery of mail, where cost and timeliness were key. Entrepreneurs were helped by the fact the network was paid for, lowering a barrier to entry in the business.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Of GIS and automobiles

What mixed messages last week about what makes a succesful GIS division! On one hand CH2M Hill spun off Critigen, on the other Balfour Beatty plans to acquire Parsons Brinckerhoff. A few years ago Halliburton shed KBR, which in turn exited geospatial services. So is a spin-off due to its year-on-year growth, read: highest likelihood of surviving solo? Or is the parent shedding its best parts first, read: ripe for corporate takeover or management buyout?

Tuesday 15 September 2009

What's in a name? Part II

Tim O’Reilly started the Web 2.0 movement via eponymous show a few years ago. Gov 2.0 was his iteration of same in Washington DC last week. In the All Points Blog podcast on same, APB Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg said:
...not only are they [gov. GIS sites] really, really useful, people don't think of them as GIS, they're apps: they happen to have maps in them, you get your answers to your questions...

Friday 11 September 2009

What's in a name?

I tweeted earlier on Mappliance = Map + Appliance, where maps blend into applications imperceptibly; I found two such instances just today: First I retweeted IPO Dashboard's Tracker, one of two ways to get at technology startup statistics. Second I shared my entry to Google's 9/11 interactive memorial website - not surprisingly, it allows you to enter location, text, photos and videos of your experience on that fateful day if you wish.

Monday 7 September 2009

Once an entrepreneur...

... always an entrepreneur: 20+ years ago I started up then wound down my own petroleum GIS firm in Calgary, Canada.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

The medium is the message when?

As tweeted on 18 August, Mappliances = Map + Appliance: when the geospatial disappears behind, or is blended into the information stream. A recent example is BBC on cybercafes 15 years on (in UK @ least) - in terms of reader feedback Have your Say is so yesterday, however, welcome to Have your Say Map!

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Mashups and match-ups

My intruductory posting showed some of the webmaps I easily created from open source and other tools using publicly available data. I tweeted earlier on a simple exercise: how might the public use webmaps in regards to news and current affairs? My friend Hussein took it one step further: mashing up something similar in four concurrent maps.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Standards & Metadata - Part V

A quick follow-on to my series of same name posted here - I had a long email trail with a potential partner about serving up petrodata on the web, and here are a few lessons learned:

Friday 21 August 2009

Sat-nav stories

They say your mapping is only as good as your data. I experienced this fist-hand on my summer holidays this year. [Some of my Flickr! photos is posted on a Yahoo! personal map].

Thursday 20 August 2009

Arctic Dreams

I spent a summer in the Arctic in 1986, the year as Barry Lopez wrote a book titled as above. At a recent job in Kazakhstan, I met ice engineers whose colleagues I knew in Calgary two decades earlier! How do you get marine engineers and naval architects in the middle of two continents in Calgary and Atyrau? By developping offshore oil&gas in the Arctic Islands and the Caspian Sea!

Tuesday 18 August 2009

New home on the web

My original posts are still here, and my professional website is here.

By way of introduction, here are my original web maps:
  • ArcGIS Explorer posting of CLIWOC data (ship tracks, 1750 - 1850), also on ESRI ArcGIS Online beta website
    [Jul.2011: transposed now on new]
  • OpenLayers NRCAN web mapping services, Atlas and Polar
  • Google Maps WhereamI complete with Google Earth insert
  • Google Maps WherewasI with links to original text listings