Thursday, 13 December 2012

Maps on Spark

CBC Radio 1’s Spark is always a great show. While it falls under the “technology” heading it doesn’t so much deal with what the latest games that are coming out, or how many gigahertz of terabytes a new gizmo has. It deals more specifically with the interplay of society and  technology and how culture is shaped by that.  This weeks episode, episode 199, dealt with maps. If, like me, you find maps interesting, and especially if you dig DIY, this is a good one.

I have been puttering away at a map of my area, but far too many other things vying for my time and effort.

My idea is to take info from a few different sources and compile it into one So much more detail is revealed on aerial photos. Some maps show hiking trails, while others show pubic transit info. Some show topographic or geological info. Some show more human details, building and the like. Take info from a bunch of sources and put it into one. I dream of one map that I can not only create in layers, but view in layers. Having it so that the viewer can customize it to what they want. Someone might have no need to view detail that a contractor might want to view - where hydro poles and storm drains are, but another person might want to not clutter up a map with where public transit routes are, and another could care less about the geology underlying an area or about the topography or lats and longs.

The city I live in has lots of maps available, showing a host of info, some nicely detailed. Problem is that they are all locked PDFs. I know how to work around that and hack into them, but it creates its own set of problems. There are no more layers, typed is cracked up. A lot of time to get that back to a version I think is acceptable. In its own way it solves some problems and saves some time, but it also forces a lot of effort into fixing it. Is it worth it to devote time to it? - one of those 50-50 things.  That’s why the efforts of the city frustrate me. Let me and everyone else at them. I realize they’ve spent an untold amount of money to have a map drawn, but I don’t want to access their maps for nefarious ends. I just want to add that other bicycle route I know of, or add where that grove of oaks is, or add that path that an aerial photo didn’t reveal, or add info that an aerial photo did reveal. If I can add that to a public database, or even just use for my self - print out one or two copies, that's it. Once I get the boat in the water, I might want to add info that other boaters might dig. The spot where you can lift over into another area, precise location via GPS of where there is a fallen tree that is creating an obstruction, those kinds of things. If I go to the trouble to annotate maps, or make improvements to them, why go to the trouble just for me. Share that info.

And some of the other 198 episodes are worth checking out as well. Great show.

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