Web 2.0

Google Earth Outreach

At Google, employees are required to work on their full time job and work 20% of the time on a  side project of their choice. Rebecca Moore started working with NGOs and indigenous peoples around the world introducing them to Google Earth and Google Maps. Google Earth Outreach applies Google's mapping tools to communicate pressing issues such as environmental conservation, human rights, cultural preservation and creating a sustainable society.
For a little over a year, Google Earth Outreach has been Rebecca Moore's full time gig. She and her team have provided impressive layers on Google Earth as well as easy to follow and informative tutorials for users to learn how to use tools offered by Google Maps and Google Earth. Rebecca Moore introduced new layers featured in their show case at the Google Earth Outreach Geneva kick off.  

British Foreign and Commonwealth office embraces Web 2.0 technologies

The British Foreign and Commonwealth office seems to be taking full advantage of Web 2.0 technologies. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband took part in press conference hosted in the virtual world of Second Life...a year ago! The event marked the end of a vital meeting of the world's Small Island States in the Maldives 13-14 Nov 2007. Reporters (well their avatars) were encouraged to attend.

Read more here and view screen shots  from the Second Life conference on the British Foreign and Commonwealth's office Flickr site. On top of the Flickr site and Second Life meetings, several of the diplomats also keep blogs

Searching the FCO website further I found an interesting article by Evan Potter about online vs. real life diplomacy. Second Life may sound silly but the potential for more enriched communication and broad participation is there. 

ESRI Conference

If any of you are at the ESRI user conference please pipe up and share you experiences here. This year there seems to be a full day track about climate change with session about climate change and local government, climate change patterns and characteristics, Integration of GIS and Remote Sensing for Monitoring Environmental Change, and several others.

Even Dangermond (ESRI CEO) mentions the significance of mashups and ArcGIS 9.3 will support KML files. ESRI is has also released a beta version of ESRI Flex, API for ArcGIS Server using JavaScript. ESRI is staying in the game with advancing technologies and attempting to benefit from UGC it seems.

Clint Brown, ESRI's director of software products spoke about Web 2.0 technology such as social networking and mashups as beneficial for GIS. "These [Web 2.0 technologies] are a new platform for GIS to combine our content with other things."
Right on Mr. Brown.


Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0:

1. O'Reilly, Tim. "What is Web 2.0." O'Reilly Media. September 30, 2005. http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/

- in-depth explanation of web 2.0. very informative read.
- comparison table of web 1.0 vs. 2.0.
- data ownership and the advantages of web 2.0 (ex. Mapquest first had online mapping capabilities, but GoogleMaps allows for user annotations, yielding it greater success).

2. Strickland, Jonathan. "Is there a Web 1.0?." 28 January 2008. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-10.htm> 05 August 2008.

- This site offers a basic introductory to web 1.0 / web 2.0.
- Defines web 1.0 as static, not interactive, and web 1.0 applications are propriety (and therefore one can use the app. but cannot see how an app. works/change it). Web 2.0 programs are open source (source code freely available).

3. Graham, Paul. "Web 2.0." PaulGraham.com. November, 2005. http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html

- web 2.0 = Ajax (web-applications work like desktop ones), democracy (people can change, create, add to something… wikipedia).

4. Spivack, Nova. "The Third-Generation Web is Coming." KurzweilAL.net. 17 Dec. 2006. 5 Aug. 2008 <http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0689.html?m%3d3>.

- introduces idea of web 3.0. evolution from web 2.0. revolves around ‘the intelligent web’.
- data-mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence technologies (YOU ask for something, the website knows what you want and can provide it to you).

I have gathered:
Web 2.0 =
1. interactive/participatory/social networking
2. P2P
3. free
4. services (not packaged software), Ajax (?)
5. “richer” user experience.
6. Sites appear to be aiming for a web 2.0 perspective; many web 1.0 sites (news sites, etc) attempt to make this transition w/ blogs and comments.

Ex. youtube, flickr, myspace, facebook, digg, bebo, blogspot, etc.

Ontario Vs. Manitoba Park Website

Ontario Parks has recently updated their website to incorporate Google Maps. After exploring the new “locate parks by region” function and associated Google Maps I checked out other provinces' park websites to see how they do things. I am comparing the Ontario Parks site vs. Manitoba Parks site in terms ease of use/type of use by end-users and the likely resource costs (hardware, software purchases, app development, employee training) in developing these sites.

Manitoba Parks uses a point and click mapping interface similar to the Google map associated with the Ontario parks website. The Manitoba site starts with an image map and after clicking an icon the link to that particular park's website is provided. Manitoba has each park map scanned and available on the website. It takes a bit of time to download a pdf file even after you have spent some time locating the document. The park map is helpful information once you have reached the park but I have no idea how to get to any of these parks from my house or how long it will take. For users with no familiarity with Manitoba, (eg. me) it is difficult to understand where to locate the map I'm currently looking at.

Users are likely to be more familiar with a Google map found on the Ontario Parks page. With a Google map you can zoom out until you find something familiar to contextualize what region of the world you are observing.

Developing these sites brings up other issues. Once a developer learns the basics of Google maps it is easy to manipulate the API to fit the needs of the site. Embedding a Google map into your website is free. The Manitoba site likely needed a cartographer or graphic designer to create the map using expensive software like Adobe Illustrator, then require a programmer to make the map clickable and maintain the data. At the simplest level, a site like Ontario's on the other hand only needs one neogeographer, an Internet connection and website host to be functional.

I know it sounds like I have definitely drank too much of the Google juice but I am relieved to see that some standardization practices are developing. End users and programmers alike have developed some practices that are becoming more widely used and ease manipulation and navigation. Ontario Parks offers multiple avenues of searching for the park that most closely fits the needs of the visitor. They may not do it in the most straightforward way but the user can search for a park by name, location or service offered by the park. Google Maps offers the icing on the cake on this site (if you can find the small map link) with door to park driving directions. GIScientists see the geoweb as having infinite possibilities for storing and distributing data, however most users continue to use it to find out how to get from point A (their house) to point B (summer vacation destination).

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