Bringing Google Maps to your web site and/or blog
Aug 15th, 2007 by JTJ

And this just in from CNet via O'Reilly Radar….

 Google To Release Embeddable Maps

Posted: 15 Aug 2007 08:38 AM CDT

By Brady Forrest

Over on CNet they have the scoop on an upcoming cool Google Maps feature.

Google will be releasing a new feature next week that will enable people to easily embed a Google Map into their Web site or blog, just like you can do with a YouTube video. No coding or programming required; just copying and pasting a snippet of HTML, a Google spokeswoman says.

Google Maps

“To embed a Google Map, users will simply pull up the map they want to embed–it can be a location, a business, series of driving directions, or a My Map they have created–and then click 'Link to this page' and copy and paste the HTML into their Web site or blog,” the spokeswoman said.

Given how smart of a feature this is I can't believe its taken this long for one of the major providers to release a feature like. Yahoo, Google, Live – they've all had the ability to get permalinks to a map for easy inclusion in a website. They've also all had APIs, but now a fully featured map, even those that have Mapplet data, will be fully embeddable on a person's website with cut-n-paste. Google Maps already dominate on third-party websites; this will increase that margin substantially.

Putting good code to work
Aug 11th, 2007 by JTJ

We have long admired the code underlying the visual data site,  TheyRule was among the pioneering sites to link data — in this case, corporatate board members of American's largest public companies and their shared networks with other board members.  So it is that we are pleased that Greenpeace has taken the concept, and maybe even a lot of the code, to visualize the networks of organizations and people tied to Exxon.  According to the site:

This website is the first chapter of a larger Greenpeace project provide a research database of information on the corporate funded anti-environmental movement.

The database compiles Exxon Foundation funding to a series of institutions who have worked to undermine solutions to global warming  and climate change in recent years.  Individuals working with these organizations and their global warming quotes and deeds are detailed.  There are downloadable source documents or links to sources are provided throughout. 

Simulation modeling
Jul 21st, 2007 by JTJ

Assoc. Prof. Paul M. Torrens, at Arizona State University's School of Geographical Sciences (torrens at geosimulation dot com) continues to turn out interesting simulation models. Most recently they are about crowd movement, but the methods are applicable to many venues. See his work at


Mapping Emotions
Jul 21st, 2007 by JTJ

Yet another interesting innovation of mapping.  Imagine what this might mean for analysis of tourism sites or crowd control?

From O'Reilly Radar (


Bio Mapping Project in Stockport This Weekend

Posted: 20 Jul 2007 01:04 PM CDT

By Brady Forrest

sf biomap

The Bio Mapping project sponsors people to walk around an area with a GPS and a Galvanic Skin Response sensor and logger. The emotional responses of the participants are then mapped. The map of San Francisco (pdf) was recently completely. They had previously developed a beautiful map of Greenwich (viewable via Flash viewer or Google Earth).

The project has been run by Christian Nold for several years now. Here's how he describes the project in an interview:

You ask people to go out into the streets and take an emotion walk. Can you explain?

Bio Mapping is a participatory methodology for people to talk about their immediate environment, locality and communal space. I'm trying to use 3D visualisation as a way of talking about the space. It's not representational. As part of this method I have developed a device, which can be used by lots of people. It consists of a lie detector connected to a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, which measures your location and your physiological arousal at the same time. By combining the two I can talk about physiological arousal in certain locations. A Galvanic Skin Response sensor in the form of finger cuffs measures the sweat level. Fitted out with this device, people go for a walk and when they return their data is visualised and annotated.


By downloading data onto my laptop data it is then transformed by my software and then projected onto Google Earth. The Galvanic Skin Response sensor measures the amount of skin conductivity. I'm suggesting that a change in skin conductivity not only tells something about your body, but also suggests an emotive event. I'm plotting the amount of change in the skin resistance level versus location. There are various technical transformations and averaging I have to do to the data. I'm sampling once every four seconds, because I found this optimal for this kind of spatial representation.

This weekend they are biomapping Stockport. If you happen to be in the UK you can participate — I know that I would. I would love to set this up at one of our conferences to watch the emotional response of attendees throughout the day and at different sessions. Did the keynote speaker or product launch really get people excited? What about that debate?


More good material from Marylaine Block, this time on visualization
Jul 19th, 2007 by JTJ

Our long-time friend Marylaine Block has again served up some good librarian-centric material on her blog/newsletter “Neat New Stuff” and “Exlibrius”. This time it's a fine essay — with links to pertinent sites — on one of our favorite topics, visualization.
Here's the top, but go to
ExLibris #301
for the complete package.

by Marylaine Block

On several occasions librarians have asked me to speak about the future
of reference service – if, indeed, there IS a future for reference
service. I think librarians are worried that the simple delivery of
information is not a growth area for libraries because that's where our
primary competitor, the internet, excels, with its search engines and
resources like Wikipedia.
Helping people make sense of the information they've retrieved is
something else again, and that, I believe, is where the future of
reference service lies. After all, who is dying to compete with
librarians in explaining to people how to fill out online FAFSA and FEMA
applications? Who is fighting librarians for the opportunity to show
people how to select, combine, and chart a variety of data points in
government data sets? Who else wants to help students analyze and
retrieve the kinds of information needed to solve a problem or research a
topic? Who else worries about making sure the information retrieved
matches the user's purposes and level of knowledge and sophistication?
Who else is interested in providing context for the information?
One of the most effective tools we can use to help people make sense of
information is visualization.

How to Cite Maps
Jul 10th, 2007 by JTJ

From the Directions Magazine “All Points Blog” …..


Monday, July 9. 2007

How to Cite Maps Used in School/Journalism

Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)

Fortunately, numerous online sources provide guidance concerning citing web-generated maps. Per the Ohio Wesleyan University webpage and the Chicago Manual of Style, the basic information to include is:

Author or statement of responsibility. Map Title [map]. Data date if known. Scale; Name of person who generated map; Name of software used to generate the map or “Title of the Complete Document or Site”. (date generated).

Delaware, Ohio [map]. 2001. Scale undetermined; generated by Deb Peoples; using “, Inc”.

(2 May 2005)

The following website offers additional examples:, and a websearch for the phrase “citing maps” yields numerous results.

Concerning copyright, the United States authority has many useful papers demystifying the topic: Another serious examination comes from J.B. Post of the New York Map Society, who has collected map copyright case law from 1789-1998; see:

#1 Alan Glennon (Link) on 2007-07-09 11:39 (Reply)

Doing urban modeling with real data
Jul 3rd, 2007 by JTJ

Once again, O'Reilly's Radar tips us to an interesting application of cell phone GPS data, this time to illustrate daily traffic activity in Rome.

Real Time Rome: Using Cellphones To Model a City's Movements

Posted: 02 Jul 2007 01:14 PM CDT

By Brady Forrest

rome at different times of the day

MIT's Senseable City Lab is using cellphone data to model Rome's populations. The project is called Real Time Rome. It is an exhibit at architecture conference La Biennale di Venezia's show Global Cities (shown Sept 10 – Nov 19 2006).

There are descriptions about the exhibit from an MIT article about the exhibit:

Real Time Rome features seven large animations, projected on transparent plexiglass screens. One screen shows traffic congestion around the city, while another screen shows the exact movements of all the city's buses and taxis. Another screen is able to track Romans celebrating major events like the World Cup or the city's annual White Nights festival (Notte Bianca, which will happen on Sept. 9, the evening before the Biennale's architecture exhibition opening). Additional screens show how tourists use urban spaces and how cars and pedestrians move about the city.

and how the data was collected:

Ratti's team obtains its data anonymously from cell phones, GPS devices on buses and taxis, and other wireless mobile devices, using advanced algorithms developed by Telecom Italia, the principal sponsor of the project. These algorithms are able to discern the difference between, say, a mobile phone signal from a user who is stuck in traffic and one that is sitting in the pocket of a pedestrian wandering down the street. Data are made anonymous and aggregated from the beginning, so there are no implications for individual privacy.

This certainly would be a more cost-effective method of gathering traffic data for determining commute times. Imagine if predictive systems could prepare us for the onslaught of traffic from a baseball game just letting out by watching the fans head towards there care. Or let us know that a highway is about to be flooded by traffic from a side road. Would you put up with your location being (formally) tracked in exchange for this service?

[BBC via Data Mining]


How much is "A whole lot"?
Jun 27th, 2007 by JTJ

Steve Bass, a columnist at PC World, points us to this fascinating exhibit of the work of “statistical artist” (Is that a term of art?) Chris Jordan.

Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.
My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.
~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007
This series will be exhibited at the Von Lintel Gallery in New York from June 14th to the end of July. Opening reception on June 14th. More info at”

Some imaginative election "gaming" from USC and the Annenburg Center
Jun 19th, 2007 by JTJ

From All Points Blog

Monday, June 18. 2007

The Redistricting Game

University of Southern California students developed the online game for the Annenburg Center for Communications to teach about the challenges (and partisanness) of redistricting. Along the way players learn that to keep their candidates elected they may need to examine ethical issues. The game is Flash-based.

From the [original News 10] site: The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.


The NYT DOES run a correction on its percentage screw-up
May 28th, 2007 by JTJ

So the NYT did backtrack on the percent-of-change error described yesterday without assigning blame.  That's fine.  But the correction suggests another big story that we have only seen parts of.  That is, of all the U.S. presence in Iraq — military and contractors — how many and what proportion are actually on the streets and how many and in what capacity are in support categories. 

[New York Times] Corrections: For the Record
Published: May 28, 2007 [Monday]
A front-page headline on Saturday about
concepts being developed by the Bush administration to reduce United
States combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year referred
imprecisely to the overall effect on troop levels. As the story
indicated, removing half of the 20 combat brigades now in Iraq by the
end of 2008, one of the ideas under consideration, would cut the total
number of troops there by about one-third, from 146,000 to roughly
100,000, not by 50 percent. That is because many of the troops that
would remain in Iraq are in training or support units, not in combat
forces. (Go to Article)

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