Geography vs. Stereotypes

Alphadesigner is trying to put a finger on it with his Mapping Stereotypes series. Others, including how Americans see Europe and the world according to America, are not nearly as well designed. We’d be fools, however, to think we invented the idea of mapping our prejudices. This Flickr set of maps from 1870 through 1915 is good evidence of that. » about 100 words

Google MyMaps and GeoRSS

O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 Conference isn’t until the end of May, but Google just released two sweet new map-related features: GeoRSS support and MyMaps. The GeoRSS support means that any application that can output it’s geocoding — as simple as <georss:point>45.256 -71.92</georss:point> — can now be linked to a live map with no more effort than […] » about 300 words

Plazes Updated

Wearing the badge “still beta,” Plazes, the free, network-based geolocation service, now sports a new coat of paint. Among the improvements is the Flash-based badge (above) and a much improved frontpage/dashboard that combines the map of known locations with the map of active users, formerly two separate screens. On the downside, I sort of miss […] » about 300 words

Visual Complexity

I found the above image of a yFiles-generated site map at We’ve seen a lot of internet diagrams, including this one from 1977, but what about mapping food? Or disaster situations? Or air routes? It’s like data porn, and there’s more in the visualcomplexity gallery. » about 100 words

bsuite_geocode Plugin For WordPress

I’m a big fan of the WP Geo plugin, but I want more. My biggest complaint is that I want to insert coordinates using Google Maps or MultiMap URLs, rather than insert them in the modified story editor. So I wrote a bit of code that reads through the URLs in a post, finds the […] » about 400 words

Google Maps Gets All The Attention

It would reasonably appear that here in the US, there’s only one map site: good ol’ Google. But until Google adds maps for countries other than the US, Canada, and UK, the rest of the world will have to look elsewhere. Enter the UK competitor: has been serving the world outside the bubble since 1996. From their self description:

Key features include street-level maps of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the US; road maps of the world; door-to-door travel directions; aerial photographs; and local information.

In short, it’s probably the best place to point any random set of coordinates. Example: my story about the Chernobyl tour should probably have included this street map of the region. (Yes, Google will now give me a low resolution satellite photo of the reactor, but photos and maps offer different value for different uses.)

My only complaint is that the service lacks the AJAX features that make Google Maps so great. But that might be changing. A post at The Map Room tells of a new feature for UK regions: a map overlay follows the mouse on aerial photos. Take a look at this example. Nice trick, eh?

Skyhook WiFi Geolocation

Old news from Gizmodo and Wi-Fi Networking News (quoting WiFi NN):

Skyhook has assembled a database of information about 1.5 million access points across 25 major cities in the U.S. by driving every street in every city. Their software records multiple data points per sample for directionality. Fire up their software on a laptop, and it compares the Wi-Fi information it sees with what’s in the Skyhook database, popping out a latitude and longitude within 20 to 40 meters.

Also geolocation related: Monopoly Live: London style.

Google Maps Rock, The Google Maps API Rocks More

We don’t need to hack Google Maps anymore. Now that Google has released a public maps API, we can make more reliable map-dependent apps (which will now have better browser compatibility, thank you). Within a few minutes of signing up for a maps API key I had put together the following of the Nevada Test Site Tour.

Yeah, click the satellite button, scroll, zoom… It’s real.

The API is all JavaScript, but I use a bit of PHP to iterate through an array of points and generate the code that puts the lines and pins on the map.

The most frustrating development with the Google Maps API is that each developer key is limited to a certain hostname and directory. It’s sensitive to things like “” instead of “” or “” instead of “” . That’s why this is loading in an iframe.

Thanks to The Unofficial Google Weblog for the tip that the API was released yesterday. As a minor coincidence, Yahoo! also released their maps API this week. Damn.

When You Don’t Have A GPS…

Geolocation by GPS my be the most straightforward approach, but we mustn’t forget the other ways to get lat/lon coordinates. All current cell phones support aGPS positioning to comply with federal E-911 mandates, but not all phones make it easy for the user to get that information out of them. Still, some do and GPS-enabled […] » about 400 words