Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mapping Opportunity: Stephen Fry's trip

A lot of the time I look at content on the web, TV and radio and think 'I could enhance that SO much by using Google Earth'. With Google Earth being free and creating maps so easy there is a real opportunity for improving public outreach with Google Earth - hence the first part of the title of this post 'Mapping Opportunity' which I'll start using as a tag. In this example we discuss using a Google Earth map to structure video and text content in a multi country trip.

Stephen Fry packs his bags at home.
I've had to guess where he lives, some of you may recognise my choice of location.

The Content:
Stephen Fry is on his travels again:
"It's farewell for quite a few months, I fear, as I head off to Africa, Mauritius, Indonesia, New Zealand and the Sea of Cortez to make a documentary about disappearing species."
This is a follow up to a book by the late and greatly missed Douglas Adams: Last Chance to See. Stephen is posting tweets (as they are known) on twitter and the occasional video so people can follow his travels. This makes for a perfect map based project and Stephen has actually published a map showing his location on twitter a couple of time - but its just a location placemark in a Google Map, a very limited use of web maps.

Another screenshot with Mt Kenya in the Background

My Map:
Amongst other things I have
  • Embedded the videos in placemarks at likely locations
  • Added one of his Tweets as a placemark
  • Added content from the Arkive project which shows the sort of related placemark people could find when browsing around the project area in Google Earth
I have had to guess lots of the locations since I don't actually know where he was. I could also have:
  • Added formatting (icon, text etc) as in the Arkive placemarks
  • Time stamped the elements so that you could animate them with the timeline to show Stephen's progress. This would work particularly well because Stephen has produced lots of Tweets
I hope the map adds something to the content beyond what was possible with the existing web pages. In general I think that material produced on a journey works better as a map than a web site.

Offer: I have the greatest respect for Stephen and the memory of Douglas Adams so if Stephen's team want, I'd be happy to give advise on how to best use maps in their outreach for free. It may be too late for this trip but I'm sure there will be others...

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