Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Audio Tour: Paleo Channels of the Nile

I did say the next post would continue on from the last. What a fibber, I've got engrossed in the potentials of audio.

Evoca is a web service which allows you to record audio clips painlessly direct to the web. It creates a little player and courteously creates a string of flash based code which you can paste into a placemark to add audio to your placemarks.

1] Create a Google Earth file you wish to add commentary to.
2] Sign up to Evoca, record some audio clips. Instructions are on the site. It helps to view Google Earth as you record them so you know what to say.
3] From 'My recordings' select the sound clip you wish to paste into GE. Copy the text in the "For your website" box
4] Paste into the 'Description' box of a placemark/folder/polygon etc.

All very clever but is it worth the effort? Isn't text good enough? I would say audio is worth it because of an effect called 'change blindness'. If your eyes have to zoom from commentary text to Google Earth view and back to commentary view it is more difficult to remember the connection between the two. Try and spot the difference between the images here. Most people find it difficult to spot the bank appearing whereas if there was no blank screen (an analogy to the sweep of your eyes between bubble and text) between the two images you would notice the change immediatly. Using audio avoids this problem.

Screen Shot from the Audio Tour

So I did all this yesterday and then read Frank's post about the National Geographic project that uses 'balloonFlyTo' feature of Google Earth. I decided the combination of Evoca and this feature could be used to create a nice audio tour:

Paleo Channels of the Nile

Click the first placemark and then click 'next' in each bubble to be taken around. Note that I put in a separate fly to and audio step to avoid people trying to listen while the screen was still moving around in front of them. It could do with some tidying up but you can get the gist of the idea, its a solution to the lack of tour functionality I mentioned in my video post.

Backstory: In 1999 I started a PhD at Leeds University on Paleo Channels of the Nile. I didn't complete it for reasons I won't go into but I did have a satellite image of the area in the audio tour that I spent hours pouring over. I zoomed into the area using Google Earth to see what was there recently and it was wonderful to be able to see the individual houses having spent so long wondering what all the dots were about. More information on the fascinating archeology.


stillinorbit said...

Your instructions are cryptic: when I click "next" I get an Internet Explorer error: Cannot find 'file:///#view4-audio;balloonFlyto'

No sound yet... sigh.

Rich Treves said...

This is designed for Google Earth use, not Google maps. Does that answer your problem?