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HASTAC III Panel Session: Situated in Time and Space: New Developments in the Display of Geographic Data

As a self-described "former historian" with aM.A. in History, Mano began with an overview of the history of maps, pointingout that humans have been making maps for a very long time. He cited John Snow's1854 map of the cholera outbreak in London ( an early example of the use of geospatially-located data, making the pointthat "people have already been doing what we think of as revolutionary for along time." Another example, a 1907 Rand McNally guidebook with pictures andmaps giving turn-by-turn directions for travel, works in much the same way asthe "Directions" feature of Google maps.

Turningto the functions and applicability of Google Earth, Mano mentioned that whilemany people see it as a good way to spy on their neighbors, it's better to viewit as a platform for displaying geographic data, which is its intended purpose.Some of the new features of Google Earth 2.0 include bathymetric data (oceanviews), touring capabilities that allow the user to script his or her ownpresentation using Keyhole Markup Language (KML), views of Mars, and theinclusion of historical imagery (allowing the user to overlay historical mapsor images onto the map).

Mano thenshowed some demonstrations of how these technologies help us to see how peoplevisualize the world, noting that these features are particularly useful forecological activism. Some KML touring demos are available here:

Otherapplications include explorations of urban spaces such as Singapore orPeachtree, Georgia. Peachtree's Interactive Web Map allows the user to viewlayers highlighting the locations of crimes during a certain period (such asgolf cart theft), locations of fire hydrants, and other data.

3DSingapore Explorer

Peachtree City GIS Interactive Web Map

During the Q&A session following his talk, Mano was asked about thelicensing problems that might arise in collaborative "mash-ups" between differentorganizations or data-generating entities. In his response, he noted thatdetermining the source of information is a major issue and fortunately there isa lot of publicly available data (some of it more or less accurate!); Google'sbasic idea as far as licensing issues is that if you make the map readilyavailable to everyone, then you can use the programs.


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