I frequently get emails asking me about visualising collections of GPS traces as an animation. The OpenStreetMap community is way ahead of me on this one, and has a tool called Party Render to create animations of mapping activity.
Here's one that Mikel just pointed out from a recent mapping party in Mumbai:
The videos on this I-Witness Video Blog about NYPD video spying techniques are fascinating. Chest-mounted cameras on undercover cops, infra-red/heat cameras on the critical mass bike ride, and creepy, awesome, weirdly detached blimp camera footage:
"The first scene on the clip shows people from the antiwar group Not in Our Name lying on the grass in Central Park, spelling out a giant "NO" with their bodies. Every so often the camera operator focuses on some young women lounging nearby who do not seem to be part of the antiwar event. The hovering blimp cam seems almost to float above this tranquil scene. It might even be a pretty picture if it were not for the fact that we are viewing this all through what appears to be a military targeting scope superimposed on the frame."
These shots show highlights of the blimp footage, note just how much of New York can be seen as it zooms out:
What strikes me is the one phrase, "Every so often the camera operator focuses on some young women lounging nearby who do not seem to be part of the antiwar event," — as I'm sure you would too if you had a camera like that. When implementing surveillance technology, what use is it if nobody is watching? But then how detached can one be from what's being observed?
Watching this stuff second or third hand on the web is also quite jarring. As part of a daily diet of often highly personal clips, parodies and skits on YouTube (and superb post-modern twists combining everything), voyeurism is becoming ordinary.
The scope of this surveillance reminds me of a great Matt Webb story, The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia, where the inhabitants of a city can see everything through a network of telescopes and reflective spheres. Matt's vision is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet.
Over the last few weeks I've been collecting circular visualisations. This week, I seem to keep running into 3D globes and heatmaps. I'm all for 3D done right, but even with my fondness for circular visualisations I'm still wary of these things. (Of course I'm not denying the eye candy appeal of any of it!).
"The blogosphere is the total sum of all blogs connected into a social network. The term was cool a year ago but is too widespread now for the general blog crowd to use it. But since it's actually a useful term it is still referred to by the inner circle. From there it will work it's way back into the common language, acheiving a renaissance around febtuary next year."
I admire their thoroughness in doing the whole world (check the site for country by country breakdowns), and their multi-megabyte eye candy movies. It's a shame it's all based on a GDP-like measure, which isn't the most intuitive or easy to visualise thing itself. I'm reading their papers now to see what the story is.
Lastly, I'm really pleased Dan Catt over at Flickr/Geobloggers can't resist plotting his interestingness heatmaps in 3D inside Google Earth. When the sky goes pink you know it's because Yahoo's Dubai office decided to build it for real.
Update: Eric found this one from ESRI:
Mikel Maron is writing up the fascinating things he's found out about a friend's new place in Weaver House in London's east end (see also parts 2, 3, 4 and 5). We were there on Thursday and it truly is a bizarre spot for a building. Today someone found my photo of it on Flickr, and it turns out he used to live there.
My younger brother plays guitar in a band called DARTZ! (myspace.com/darts). They recorded an album in London this summer and the first single is out this time next month. There's now a rather swish video for it on youtube*, and local radio recently played it twice.
In other news, a fan of theirs put some of their lyrics on Newcastle's Secret Flickr Wall. If you obsess over Flickr for long enough, eventually Flickr will obsess over you.
* Not embedded because Wordpress is too damn opinionated to let me post invalid HTML dammit.
Some kids making the most of the 2006 Glastobury rain, balancing on some overturned bins, at youtube.
I'm playing with YouTube. I'm a bit confused as to why I have to write my own RSS feeds out for all my friends, but apart from that it's doing most things right and not getting in my way. Fun!
YouTube is the Flickr of video, or something. I discovered today that this lazy turn of phrase is known as a snowclone. Undeterred, I watch with anticipation as Steve takes steps towards making OpenStreetMap into the Flickr of GPS traces. (It's already the wikipedia of maps, of course.)