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Play tech's Great Game

Posted: 08/31/10 06:00 AM

So we read lots and lots of tech headlines at this show. Facebook’s after Foursquare’s market; Apple’s after Microsoft; Google’s after everyone—the constant maneuvering and strategizing feels sometimes like a giant game of Risk. Now it is, literally.

This map belongs to the folks at Web 2.0 Summit, an invitation-only conference on the Internet economy. Even to them, it can be hard to see the big picture with so many players jostling for position. As Web 2.0 blogger John Battelle puts it:

The narrative is so rich, it struck us that it lends itself to a visualization – a map outlining these points of control, replete with incumbents and insurgents – those companies who hold great swaths of strategic territory, and those who are attempting to gain ground, whether they be startups or large companies moving into new ground.

You can make comments on the map, and pretty soon, the mapmakers promise, you’ll be able to play the game. Let’s hope the rules are not too complicated.

Comments | Filed Under: maps games economy web 2.0 jb

A problem, a phone, a software platform: crisis relief in Pakistan

Posted: 08/27/10 06:00 AM

If you go to Pakreport.org, you’ll see a map of Pakistan riddled with red dots. Click on one, a little dialogue box pops up.  “under 9 feet water. 400 stranded near Qaim Bhawana ‘Bund’. Food & medicines urgently needed.  Disease everywhere. Relief camp in QB town in name only.”

This is all direct information about conditions on the ground in Pakistan sent for free by text message to number called a short code. 

We’re coming up on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1700 people, displacing hundreds of thousands of others.  In the aftermath, just trying to find people, getting information about who needed what, where, was a major challenge.

Now, in flood-ravaged Pakistan, volunteers have a way to get people on the ground directly involved in the information sharing, and this weekend, they’re going to make a big push to make sure people in Pakistan know about it.  They’re using Ushahidi, a platform for collecting and visualizing information. 

Patrick Meier, Director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi, and Anahi Ayala Iacucci, volunteer coordinatorfor PakReport explain how it all works and how it helps in crisis situations.

BASEERA, PAKISTAN - AUGUST 26: Flood victims head back home on a flooded road as the water level goes down August 26, 2010 in Baseera, Punjab, Pakistan. Pakistan is suffering from the worst flooding in 80 years, with government officials claiming as many as 20 million people have been affected by the flooding with 15 million seriously affected. The U.N has described the disaster as unprecedented, with over a third of the country under water, and the country’s agricultural heartland has been devastated as rice, corn and wheat crops have been destroyed by the floods. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Comments | Filed Under: maps crowdsourcing text messaging cell phones crisis

You are a map maker. Yes you are.

Posted: 08/04/10 06:00 AM

Hey guess what! You’re a map maker. Or cartographer. Whatever you want to call it. Yes, I’m serious. The job is yours. Doesn’t pay but it might be fun to do anyway. Microsoft is making you the offer. Now don’t go getting all full of yourself, they’re making the same offer to every person on Earth.

It’s part of the map service on their Bing search engine. I guess they’re looking for a leg up on other map sites. So they’re doing this thing called Bing Open Street Map where you, or anyone, can provide pictures and information and that gets added to the map, to the record of what that place looks like and is.

It was inevitable, really. The Wikipedia model works, lots of people contribute for free, building something bigger. But is bigger better?

We talk about the future of mapping when we’re all map makers. Our guests are Michael Goodchild, professor of geography at the University of California Santa Barbara and Mark Harrower, a map designer at Axis Maps and former professor of cartography at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Comments | Filed Under: microsoft google maps

today's show

What will we do with all this "white space"?

09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

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