I’ve just returned home from four days in the redwoods of Humboldt County. On the six hour drive from Eureka to the Bay Area I stopped at a roadside rest just before the Avenue of the Giants, the scenic drive that parallels Highway 101. The sign called the local redwoods remnants of the greatest forest that had ever been. Partisans of the Amazon might argue. But not me. I own a tiny piece of the redwood forest.
The drive up and down the coast offers plenty of thinking time and this drive the concept of mapping was on my mind. Adrian Holovaty (his home page) has shown the way with chicagocrime.org and other projects. He recently won a grant award from the Knight Foundation; here is the synopsis:
Project: To create, test and release open-source software that links databases to allow citizens of a large city to learn (and act on) civic information about their neighborhood or block.
Goals: â€œTo create an easy way to answer the question, â€˜Whatâ€™s happening around me?â€™â€
Sounds like mapping. In a related project, Unmediated.org points to a new mapping routine by Outside.in (click here for a prior posting that has background on that site). Here is the Outside.in announcement of the mapping feature. Blogger Jason Kottke was one of their first test subjects and it was his note on the mapping feature that was posted on Unmediated.
In any event I think that mapping will be the critical link that allows economically viable local media to arise from the web. We’re going to have to show geographic relevance to readers, advertisers and opinion leaders. I am anxious to see what Holovaty creates. His project will be open source.
Amateur corner: A recent posting on the prevalence of amateur programming efforts mentioned an academic group at Oregon State University that helps end users make better use of software. After writing that post I contacted the team leader proposing some ideas in the publishing realm. I heard back the other day to the effect that the program in low gear for the summer. But when students return in the fall there is some interest in considering the ideas I had advanced. I consider that progress.