Thursday, 26 July 2007

Plazes

I’ve just looked at my Plazes Map on the right, and since I have not been traveling a lot, it’s a bit pants!! I like it too much to loose it, so will keep it for the time being, but if it becomes pointless, it will be sad, but will just have to go.

 

Written and submitted from the Office

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

TOM TOM buys Tele Atlas

Tom Tom has made an offer to purchase Tele Atlas, see the press release.

What does this mean to us the humble users? Well this could be a major step in the right direction, as Tele Atlas need lots of data to produce their products, and TOM TOM collect lots of data.

So again, what will that provide us?
Most technology consumes data. Data that is produced outside of the technological mindset. Yes there have been collaborations and yes there have been many occasions where data provided the vehicle for technology. But in the main, the data is produced and the consumers consume, and we don't get a say.

Maybe, just maybe we will start to see some fast advancements in consumer lead cartography. The biggest problem with SatNav is the recency of the data. Having worked in the GI industry I suspect one of the big hold ups is the commercial aspect of procuring such data. I don't know what the arrangement the 2 companies had before, and who lead who in the technological development, but if TOM TOM had to drag Tele Atles with them, this will make life so much easier, faster and cheaper for them. The same can be said if the relationship was reversed.

We might just start to see roads and POI's appear/disappear faster. Maybe other information may be available, such as temporary diversion (I have one at the moment on my route to work) and maybe we will even start to see preferred routes being published.

Alternatively, if the relationship was not as such, and the purchase is just to stem the economic effects from a slow down in the take up of SatNav due to it's popularity (most people who need it, already own one) then maybe we will see no change! lets hope not.

Written and submitted from home

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Wikipedia

Whilst driving home the other night I heard an advert for a programme on BBC Radio 4 by Clive Anderson on the subject of Wikipedia. The programme asks the question:
"Is Wikipedia a valuable source of human knowledge or a symptom of the spread of mediocrity and the devaluation of research?"
Now it's never a good idea to comment on a headline without hearing the argument first, but I'm going to break this rule because it's the question I find shocking!
I find the thought that knowledge for everyone "devalues expertise" is a ridiculous statement. Now we all know that the Internet is a fantastically powerful tool for expanding our knowledge, but we also know that there is a lot of "bar room" talk there too and we have to ensure anything we gain from it is backed up with evidence (often provided on the Internet also!). The important thing is that we don't scale intelligence based on the lowest common denominator. John is not intelligent because Jack is stupid. John has to be considered intelligent because he studies, he understands and he uses his knowledge. John is intelligent because he can apply his knowledge.
If you want to be considered an expert in anything, make sure you know more than the masses. If the masses learn, then stay ahead of the game and learn more or your "speciality" is no more.
The question "does Wikipedia devalue research" has to have the answer "no". Wikipedia, as we all know is written by everyone. It is a great source of information and is, in the main, a reliable source. But it is not the "brain bible". It does have error's and opinions. I would not bet my life on it's information and I wouldn't go to court with a defence based on wikipedia and I hope Clive, as a Barrister, will point this out.
We all know more than we did before the Internet. We can all confidently say that the Internet has in some way contributed to our knowledge and no matter how I look at it, this can not be a bad thing. I'm looking forward to the debate, aired on Tuesday 24th July at 11.30 www.bbc.co.uk/radio4 And will no doubt have some further comments then.
Written and submitted from home

Saturday, 7 July 2007

It drives me mad!!!

I picked up this promo of a new application of some newish technologies from the Geo community, Geowanking.


Now, both of the main technologies featured are fairly new, certainly new in the domestic market place, although they make the point that they don't see them in our homes just yet.

Surface Computing in my mind is the next logical step. I don't want to be forever hunched over my PC holding a little plastic, 8 buttoned blob in one hand whilst selecting the other 85 or so other buttons with the other. I want a more physical experience and this looks like a step in that direction. Sure there are things we need, like better voice recognition, but we all know that is coming. We could control it with our minds, we know that possibility is there. We can still use our keyboards integrated into the screen for all those people who are just to scared to embrace new technologies. Whatever it needs, however it needs to develop, the one thing for sure is that the vintage computing methods we still employ today have to go. Its just too bad for our health.

I love the more tactile interface. The fact that I have to actually move to to make something happen is more natural, more healthy. I already want one. Really successful technologies are the ones we don't see. For example, we just don't think about the toilet anymore. It wasn't that long ago we crapped in the street! Now we press a button and it all just "goes away" without a thought to "How".

Computers just don't do that. They are in our face, noisy and ugly. There is very little integration with our lives. We have to go to a special place, turn it on, go and make the tea whilst it boots up. Then we sit there in isolation both physically and mentally whilst we read, write, play or work.
Surface computing is definitely taking us in the right direction.

Oh, I nearly forgot!! Why does it make me so mad? Some of the comments that are coming out of supposedly innovative communities are driving me mad. I heard things like "it's just an expensive re-invention of the mouse". These sort of people should go and work in a library... in a very small town... in a far away country... where no one reads books. We don't need you in our industry. In our lives for that fact. Be constructive, embrace the idea, and if you think it a load of tosh, think of something better, think of ways to improve or just don't participate.

Written and submitted from from home

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Teaching the kids

I reported some time ago, applications like Google Earth should be used in our schools as a teaching aid. I don't mean just in geography classes, but in History classes, Current affairs, Physics, geology, geometry, IT etc. In fact there are not many classes where it can't be used.

I've spoken to my local school, and the teacher had never even heard of it! Once enlightened he downloaded it and as far as I can tell, done nothing else. It's no surprise though. I remember when I first got the Internet. It took about half a day to set it up, then I switched it on and with sweaty palms hovering over the key board in anticipation and excitement I paused for a few minutes... thinking "right.... now what?" It took a few days, or maybe weeks of intensive thought and exploring to actually make sense of this new world. I understood what it would do for me. But how many people just are not prepared to invest this time and energy into embracing new technology (or applications of existing technology for that matter).

So why should the teacher invest? What is the incentive? Well, I could answer that, but at the end of the day, not everyone shares my enthusiasm. What teachers need to understand how GE works, what it offers and how to apply it to the curriculum. They need to know what it will do for them and the children.

I was very encoraged to see that Ed Parsons reported on the Royal Geographical Society running a course to train teachers to use Google Earth in their classes. He reported "The course was excellent and will run again in October and is highly recommended". It's great to see the Society and Google taking the initative. We need this. After some of the comments I have heard recently (future blogging) it is becomming clearer and clearer that the next generation of inovators need to be more open to new ideas than this one.
Written and Submited from Home