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Telling the Story in the Third Dimension

Technorati Tags: journalism,media,newspapers,infoviz,visualization,google earth,kml The bitter end of the Tamil Tigers has been fought away from the news crews, but not the satellites. But did we make the most of this technology to tell the story of human suffering and the end of a 35-year guerrilla movement? A month ago the U.S. government released satellite images apparently showing how tens of thousands of Sri Lankan civilians had been squeezed into the last tract land held by the LTTE, a story covered somewhat cursorily by the media. This three paragraph piece from The Guardian, for example: A week ago (May 12) Human Rights Watch issued itsContinue readingTelling the Story in the Third Dimension

Generating Meaning or Fluff?

I love this: a mashup that generates great-looking ads from Flickr pictures and a computer. The conclusion: We realise how easily affected we are by words and pictures together, but how the mix often doesn’t mean very much, especially when they’re ads. By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold. In using the Flickr images, the piece explores the relationship between language and image, and how meaning is constructed by theContinue readingGenerating Meaning or Fluff?

Reforestation, Google Earth Style

Here’s a very cool way to mix technology and environmental stuff, via the Google Earth Blog. (Interest declared: It’s part of the NEWtrees project, the brainchild of my publisher and friend Mark Hanusz): The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offers you the opportunity to buy a tree which will be planted in a rainforest in Sebangau National Forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. In return, they not only plant the tree, but give you a Google Earth KML file in return with the location coordinates of your tree. Theoretically, as Google continues to update with higher resolution satellite and aerial imagery, you should be able to watchContinue readingReforestation, Google Earth Style

Google’s New Interface: The Earth

I’ve written before about how I think Google Earth, or something like it, will become a new form of interface — not just for looking for places and routes, but any kind of information. Some people call it the geo-web, but it’s actually bigger than that. Something like Google Earth will become an environment in its own right. I can imagine people using it to slice and dice company data, set up meetings, organize social networks. Google is busy marching in this direction, and their newest offering is a great example of this: Google Book Search. This from Brandon Badger, product manager at Google Earth:Continue readingGoogle’s New Interface: The Earth

Escape to Streetlevel

Next up: cities you can drive through, and not from above, or fake worlds where everyone has big chests. Real cities, from all angles. It’s called EveryScape. The company calls it “the world’s first interactive eye-level search that offers Web users a totally immersive world on the Internet.” A “virtual experience of all metropolitan, suburban and rural areas in which visitors can share their stories and opinions about real-life daily experiences against a photo-realistic backdrop ranging from streets and cities, communities, restaurants, schools, real estate and the like.” Yes, I’m not crazy about the lingo, but the idea is a cool one: Just try theContinue readingEscape to Streetlevel

Crash Maps

Another intriguing use of Google Earth: to map statistical likelihood of car crashes, from Ohio State University. Interesting stuff, though it doesn’t explore what I think is the key factor in crashes: unpredictability. In a place like the UK everyone follows strict rules (supposedly), so any deviation is unpredictable and therefore likely to cause an accident. In a place like Indonesia the only predictable element is that drivers won’t be predictable, so other drivers allow for odd behavior. Statistically, there should be many more crashes in a place like Jakarta than there are. Why? Because everyone knows other drivers will do weird things, and soContinue readingCrash Maps

Google Earth — So Impressive, So Depressing

Google Moon is now up and running. Is it only I who finds Google Earth electrifying and yet somewhat depressing, and disturbing? The idea of being able to zoom into street level is amazing. The technology is extraordinary. Wonderful. It’s one of those moments when you get a real buzz, as if life has just been jolted a yard or two down the track in one second. But now I can’t go outside without thinking how many satellites might be tracking me, or wondering whether there is any place on earth that can’t be visible from space. It’s awe-inspiring to put little markers in theContinue readingGoogle Earth — So Impressive, So Depressing

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